Saturday, June 14, 2014

Man Made Fun

The food was terrific and the dancing was just as good.

Camden's was hosting a dinner with Steve Raichlen, host  of PBS's "Primal Grills" and author of "Man Made Meals," a book of recipes he thought every man should be able to prepare.

Never seen the show, never heard of the man but curious always about people who have "made" it.

If I had written the book, it would have included not only recipes but what music you should play to woo a woman, but he didn't ask for my input.

Arriving shortly after the spectacular thunderstorm that rained buckets on us, I found a room of familiar and unfamiliar faces, including the genial Steven who introduced himself to me.

Friends from my distant past occupied the closest bar stools (including "smitten Laura") and I fell into easy conversation with them, along with  a guy I knew I recognized but couldn't place (his guess was from dog-sitting, but that wasn't possible) whose first concert had been the Allman Brothers despite his youthful age of 30.

When talk turned to everyone's concert-going experiences, we discovered that three of us had been at the Paul MacCartney show at RFK that I'd attended in 1990, an unlikely convergence.

Tonight's music began with Bryan Ferry and meandered through the Cure, Psychedelic Furs and Bowie, so no complaints from me.

We began with blow torch salmon (because, Raichlen said, men love power tools, fire and things that can blow up) with pico de gallo and planked Camembert with housemade pear chutney, laid out on the counter for us to dive into. Repatedly and satisfyingly.

The star of the evening told us a few stories while we dug into Eisenhower trout (cooked in bacon fat and with bacon atop it) with a stellar farm stand salad of green beans, corn, grape tomato halves and greens, a superlative complement to the crispy fish.

Next came Stanley Tucci's pan-braised pork chop with spaetzle swimming in a creamy sauce worthy of rubbing every bite of pig in.

As a bonus, every course was served with a Trivento wine including the Chardonnay, Torrentes and Malbec to pair with the appropriate course.

With the seldom seen couple on my right and the former barbecue chef on my left, I had plenty of directions to turn for conversation. From the couple I heard their courting story and subsequent 25 year marriage success and from the lone wolf, the story of his 80-acre campsite and devotion to small town life in Urbanna.

In between courses Raichlen told many stories, including what he'd discovered today about what Virginia barbecue was and how his Richmond grandmother had been the daughter of the first owner of the Byrd theater.

I doubt he appreciated what that meant as much as those of us in the crowd did.

Our last course was stout brownies with salty housemade vanilla ice cream because Raichlen said the way to a man's heart was through his stomach and the way to a woman's heart was with chocolate, a point I couldn't dispute, nor could the chef.

As the crowd began to thin, our little group made a plan: it was time to move on to see '80s cover band extraordinaire Sweet Justice, requiring a drive to the east end to Cullen's Cove.

The band was on break but plenty of women were dancing to canned music and "smitten Laura" soon dragged me on to the dance floor. Another woman approached me invitingly and then buried her face in my breasts to demonstrate that she wanted me to dance with her. Twice.

They do things differently in the east end.

I may not have been a a fan of all the music I danced to tonight but I had the right people asking me to dance (even a slow dance to the Eagles...shhh, don't tell), so I just cut loose and let my dancing shoes take over.

I am, after all, a product of the '70s.

That said, the music was reliably '80s - Guns 'n Roses, Eagles, Van Halen, Duran Duran- and while sipping my tequila, I found myself bosom to face with the nuzzler again, much to the chagrin of my date.

Luckily, my girlfriend soon grabbed me for a dance and it didn't matter who was trying to score with me.

An outstanding meal followed by dancing to a classic '80s cover band in the east end, now that's a Friday night I can get behind.

Any way you want it, that's the way I like it. Too much fun.

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