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Romance, ahh who doesn't dream of a romantic dinner for two? What is your dream of a romantic dinner, Candlelight, moonlight, being waited upon, flowers on the table, music in the air, the scent of roses, or gardenia's filling the air, wine? What is it that stirs the spark of romance? It is such and individual thing that it impossible to define the perfect romantic meal for two. Here are some ideas to help make your dinner as romantic as possible without killing your budget.
Start with the menu, something simple is going to make your life much easier, and it is cheaper too. A word of warning here, don't try a recipe that you have never done before, a special dinner is not the time to find out that no one likes the food.
Pot roast served attractively, spaghetti for two served in a single dish to be shared, can be just as romantic as fillet mignon, with all the trimmings. The key is in presenting it in an attractive manner. I wouldn't suggest meatloaf as a romantic dinner, unless you want to get very creative and make it in a heart shaped pan.
Simple appetizers will go better than caviar and toast triangles. Cheese and crackers, vegetable sticks, cherry tomatoes, bacon pinwheels all are simple and an attractive way to start the meal. Salads are nice, but not a must, unless you want to include a salad.
Don't underestimate the need for side dishes, a baked potato wrapped in foil, individual servings of carrots and peas, all look and taste wonderful, after all the food is not the thing, as much as the mood you will be setting.
Don't forget the dessert something like apple pie with ice cream, or sponge cake with fresh fruit is a simple but elegant dessert that can follow almost any meal.
Think about the wine you are planning on serving, you should consider spending a little more on a good wine (but not necessarily the most expensive available) the taste will make it worth the expense. Make sure to match your wine to the meal, red wine with red meat, white wine with fish, chicken, or pork. If you don't drink alcohol there are some very nice sparkling juices that add as much to a meal as alcohol. The mood is the thing.
If you like the idea of being served unobtrusively, consider asking a 15 or 16 year old teen you know to play waitress, and clean up for a few dollars. They will learn some skills about serving and make a little pocket money. Make sure if you have a teen serving that you go over every step of the meal with them, presentation, timing, what you expect in terms of behavior, and dress.
The table could be a card table covered with a pretty tablecloth under the stars, or for a more informal meal a picnic under a tree. This part is up to you and your ideas of romance. A full size dinning table with a corner set for two is just as romantic as a fancy table for two. Allow your imagination to run free.
Set the table with a pretty tablecloth, a few flowers in a vase (see if your neighbor would give up a few roses for the centerpiece) a candle or two. Everyday china works fine, but if you have some heirloom china you might want to consider using it for this special occasion. Make sure that you set the table with plenty of room to avoid accidents. Use decorative wineglasses, even if you decide to drink juice, or milk, it will add to the mood.
The music should be subdued; you don't want to be shouting over it to carry on a quiet conversation. Keep the volume at a level that is just audible at the table. You aren’t going to be listening to the music, but to the sound of your partner's voice, as they whisper sweet things to you.
Scent is as important as anything else is. You don't want something that is intrusive, but then again you don't want the smells of cooking to overwhelm the meal. Try using a few dabs of perfume on a lightbulb, or wiped over the outside of the candles. It will provide a gentle scent that is constant, and subtle.
Don't forget the lighting, lets be able to see what we are eating, and what the facial expressions are, but lets not put a spot light on the meal. A candle or two at the table and a lamp some distance away is usually enough. Try out several arrangements of lighting before the meal so you know what works for you and your home.
Now that you have a basic working plan, decide when your dinner is going to be, and make a date with your partner. Prepare as much of the meal ahead of time as possible, use a warming tray, or a microwave to keep things at serving temperature so that you can enjoy this special dinner. Above all enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be a meal for the two of you. If you have children, chase them to a friends or relatives house for the night, you can perhaps help them out next time they want a night for two. Enjoy the evening, and don't stress over the fact that the fresh strawberries are not as sweet as they looked, your smiling face is the sweetest thing at the table.