The moon was full, in harmony with Dimitri’s affections for Liliya. A Moët bottle stood guard in the middle of the table, snugly cocooned in ice. The Beef Wellington with horseradish cream and red wine jus was cooked to medium-rare perfection and melted on the tongue at first bite. Now, the couple were savoring the sweet, floral flavor of the lemon and rosemary crème brûlée for dessert.
It was their third dinner date in as many weeks. They had met one month ago at a “Food Connoisseur Meetup” and became instant friends. Liliya, 32, owned a small accounting firm and Dimitri, 35, worked as a food critic for a major newspaper.
Dimitri treated this relationship the way he treated all others in his life: with intensity. The natural progress, once he found someone he liked, was to go at them with his full arsenal.
It was no surprise to anyone who knew him that this was Dimitri’s sixth “serious” relationship in 12 months. Every woman he took on a date was “The One” and he made sure to let her know quite early on. He was always in love, or so he thought. He had already spent a small fortune on expensive jewelry, Michelin-star restaurants, tropical holidays, and weekend getaways in pursuit of “The One.” An engagement ring was usually presented by the fourth encounter, if it got that far.
Dimitri had taken care to book Liliya’s favorite restaurant, The Savoy Grill, one week in advance in order to impress her. As a food critic, he was familiar with all the best restaurants in the city. A restaurant manager would always alert the chef once Dimitri (or any other food critic) entered his restaurant, so Dimitri was usually assured of top quality service.
Liliya was indeed impressed. Beef Wellington and Moët Chandon were not usually on the menu on her dates. But impressed as she was by the service and meal, she was less so by Dimitri. After two dates, she had come to realize that he was only well-acquainted with two subjects: food and himself. Tonight was no different, as Dimitri launched into a monologue about the over 300 forms of pasta and about how he single-handedly closed a popular restaurant on the upper west side due its unsanitary conditions.
As she savored the final bite of the crème brûlée, Liliya decided that even that was not worth hearing another account of chicken and fish being defrosted together in a disconnected freezer or another detailed description of the effects of Dimitri being the victim of food poisoning. This would have to be their final meeting. From tomorrow onward, she would not be available for any more dates when he called.
Dimitri, meanwhile, thought this, like the other two dates, was very successful and that he had found “The One” to spend the rest of his life with. After three weeks, he was in love and he was sure she felt the same.
The only question in his mind now was: should he present Liliya with the engagement ring now or later when he took her home?