Couple Meme

I stole this from Charlotte. Borrowed? Appropriated? Anyway…

What are your middle names?

Mine is Michelle, his is James. I have always preferred my middle name to my actual name, but because he calls me ‘Babe’ more than anything else, I don’t have to hear my actual name very often. James and Ben happen to be two of my favorite male names. His parents did good.

How long have you been together?

First date was 2 and a 1/2 years ago, but before we started living together two months ago, we had only spent about 3 months together in the whole 2 and a half years – the long distance thing. Still, it is a hell of away to forge a strong friendship – email and phone calls.

How long did you know each other before you started dating?

A week. On a boat. 24/7. So, in ‘social time’ (the hours you spend getting to know someone you meet socially, usually spread out over months), about 3 or 4 months.

Who asked who out?

We didn’t realize we were on a date until we were half way through it. It was our first outing together without the other 5 people on the boat, and we wandered through the town, up to the church, bought some Greek Delight and ended up at a bar. It then became a date. I even said, “We’re on a date,” because it wasn’t by design, and happily surprised us both.

How old are you?

I am 39 and he is 29. Both have Big-0 birthdays this year.

Which situation was hardest on you as a couple?

Being apart for the majority of the time we’ve known each other was hardest – especially the times just after parting.

Are you from the same home town?

Ben and I were raised a decade apart on opposites sides of the world. It is completely random that we met when and how we did, and that two people with such different upbringings would have a meeting of the minds.

Who is smarter?

Ben has a highly analytical mind, and watching him navigate complex computer processes blows my mind. On the flipside, I hold my own. I know some stuff about some stuff. I can form an intelligent opinion – oh, and would totally kick his butt in Trivial Pursuit if he would ever play – but that is less about intelligence and more about how my memory works.

Who is the most sensitive?

I am when it comes to letting things get me down – like my fruitless job hunt. I tend to take the knock- backs personally. He is when it comes to being right about stuff.

Where do you eat out most as a couple?
I was treated to a special meal at a favorite restaurant just last week: Flying Fish, which I have blogged about I love it so much. We had the grappa brownie again.

Where is the furthest you have traveled together as a couple?

We met in Greece, which is the furthest point from our home towns of St Paul and Sydney that we have traveled (together), but have each traveled to the other’s home town in the past couple of years. Our planned trip to Italy later this year will likely be the furthest together (thus far).

Who has the craziest exes?

When we met we had both been single so long, this has never really some up or been an issue.

Who has the worst temper?

Um, him.

Who does the most cooking?

Me – happily. Living alone in Sydney I thought of dinner as a tin of tuna and some steamed vegies. Having someone to cook for – who is truly appreciative – has meant that I have enjoyed being in the kitchen of late.

Who is the most stubborn?

Him. Me. We lock horns sometimes.

Who hogs the bed most?

Me. I steal the covers. Which is weird because I never ended up with the doona on my side of the bed and on the floor when I slept alone. Hmmm.

Who does the laundry?

Me. I don’t mind. It smells a lot better than the garbage, which is Ben’s job.

Who’s better with the computer?

Um, him, I guess. Seriously, what I know about computers wouldn’t even fill his little finger. But I can cook! Did I mention that?

Who drives when you are together?

Mostly him. But I pick him up from work sometimes, so then it is me.

Flying Fish

I am not a food critic by any means, and I will not attempt to become one in this post, but Ben and I have been really impressed with restaurants we have eaten at in Seattle.  And there are so many to choose from.  Ben and I are staying close to downtown, so we are spoiled for choice within walking distance – or at most, a short cab ride away.

Last night we went to Flying Fish in Seattle’s restaurant district, Belltown.  What an extraordinary meal.  We ordered carefully, so that we could share bites, and we chose a local bottle of white on recommendation of the waiter.  We know we like New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs – and there were several on the menu to choose from – but we have wanted to stay true to the region when ordering wine here.  I have mentioned that Washington and Oregon do a ‘good red’, so when our waiter admitted this to us and still recommended the Washington Pinot Gris – “It partners really well with our menu” –  we agreed to try it.

We were not disappointed.  While we ate crusty bread with butter, our wine arrived, and he was right.  It was a terrific bottle of King Estate, which partnered well with the Thai crab cake I had to start, and the crispy calamari Ben ordered.  We both ‘ummmed’ as we tucked in.  We swapped bites a few times, and admitted ‘yes, you chose well too’, but ultimately we were happiest with our own selections, and we savoured them.  The portions were not skimpy, but we took our time. 

Before we knew it, and before I had a chance to find the bathroom, our mains were sitting before us.  Ben had the seared tuna and I had the mahi mahi.  I looked over at his plate with menu envy.  I took a bite of the mahi mahi and it was a little oily, and not quite what I expected.  I saw Ben’s obvious enjoyment, and put my cutlery down.  “Not good?” he asked patiently.  I have sent stuff back before, and I don’t really like being that person.  “It is okay.  I think I just ordered badly.”  Within seconds our waiter, Jeff, was by my side.  “Are you not enjoying that?”  I looked up at him, “It is just a lot heavier than I thought.  I think I just ordered poorly.”  He said he would be back in a second and he returned with the menu. 

We read it together, and yes, the fish was served with an apple butter sauce.  I guess I just thought it would be more apple than butter.  He did not hesitate and asked me to select something else.  I looked over at the tuna, and Ben offered me a bite.  It was delicious.  “I’d like the tuna please?” I asked, humbly.  He whisked the menu away with a genuine smile and went to get my tuna.  Ben kindly suggested I find the bathroom; he would wait for me to get my main, and then we could finish together.  When I got back to the table, the tuna was placed before me (it is seared for a micro-second).  Magic.  A little glitch of my own doing smoothed over within minutes, and we were off on our food Odyssey once again. 

If the wine had proved a good match for the starters, it was an even better pairing for the salty crusted tuna and risotto cake with Asian-style sauce and bok choy.  We ate slowly.  Mostly to savour the exceptional combination of flavours, but also to pace ourselves.  The portions were generous, and we wanted to finish every bite, because the food was so damned good!

We both cleaned our plates, again.

The bottle of wine was coming to an end, and Jeff poured the last glasses as he appeared with the dessert menu.  “See?” I said, looking up at him, “You look like butter wouldn’t melt in your mouth, but you are in fact the devil.”  He laughed, and recommended his favourite dessert, the chocolate grappa brownie.  Our eyes flew to the menu.  There it was, “Warm Grappa Brownie, vanilla ice cream, milk and bittersweet chocolate sauces”.  Oh my.  We chose that and the cheesecake, because we both love a good cheesecake.  Jeff returned to take our order, “We’ll have the brownie and the cheesecake – we’re just going to put them both in the middle of the table and fight it out.” 

Ben and I have been fortunate enough to have had some extraordinary meals in vast corners of the world, including Hawaii, Greece, and New Zealand, but I have to say, and I know he agrees, more often than not the desserts just do not complete the meal as they should.  We will have brilliant starters and mains, even great house-made bread, paired with terrific regional wines, but then dessert comes and it is an anti-climax.  We did NOT have this experience last night. 

The desserts arrived just as we were finishing our wine, and they looked good.  Both of us took pause to appreciate how pretty they were.  “I don’t think we’re supposed to eat them.  I think we should just look at them,” offered Ben.  I agreed, asking if he had his camera so he could take a picture of me with dessert.  He didn’t, so we turned our attention back to the table, and we got up the nerve to break the brownie.  We approached with care from both sides and dipped into the flourless brownie, soaking up some sauce and nicking the scoop of ice cream on the way to our mouths.  The ‘mmmm’s that followed were involuntary.  It was so unbelievably good.  And it was served with a chocolate/vanilla shortbread cookie, which added a whole other dimension of crunchy buttery goodness.  Praise all that is good!

We looked over at the poor cousin, cheesecake, and wondered how it could possibly compare.  But it did.  It was created with a ginger biscuit crust, served with poached pears, and throughout the filling was a cacophony of spices.  “It tastes like Christmas,” said Ben.  I just nodded and ‘mmm’ed in agreement; I had momentarily lost my ability to speak, but he nailed it with that description.  Both desserts were fantastic and we happily alternated back and forth between the two, commenting on how, at last, we’d shared a brilliant meal, complete with a brilliant dessert. 

The check came as we sat in blissful silence with two more empty plates before us.  Ben compared the desserts with his favourites ever, at Chino Latino in Minnesota, and at the Lindt Cafe in Sydney.  These two desserts were at least on par.  I mentioned that the brownie was remarkably similar to a molten chocolate pot I make back in Sydney when I have people for dinner.  “You can make something like that?” he asked incredulously.  “Um, yeah, I can,” and I promised to make it for him as soon as I am back in my own kitchen – and he is there to eat it.  I was inspired by presentation and accompaniments at Flying Fish, and it was outstandingly good, but, yes, I can make a fine dessert.

Flying Fish is the brain child of Christine Keff, who was inspired by a trip to Thailand where the menus at beach-side restaurants are simple, changeable and reflect only what is fresh that day.  Her philosophy translates in Seattle to a high-end restaurant where the complex menu changes daily to reflect the fish and produce that is fresh that day.  In fact, in researching this blog, the menu has already changed since last night – you could still get the brownie today, but even the desserts are changeable, as the cheesecake is missing.  The mahi mahi is still there, but no longer served with an apple butter sauce.  Did I do that?  Doubtful, but a timely change on the menu. 

To create a new menu daily based on what is fresh and available, is not an innovative concept for restaurants.  It is just that Flying Fish does it so well, and that the menu is highly creative, diverse and extensive.  So, next time you’re in Seattle, check it out.  Or, live it vicariously at the following site:

Bon appetit!