Bread Pudding. Photo by Ralph Stewart
This bread pudding is suffused with chocolate sauce and buttressed by whipped cream. Photos by Ralph Stewart

Love, thy name is Crème Brulée

By Nelson Sigelman - February 9, 2006

Créme brulée and strawberries. Photo by Ralph Stewart
Créme brulée and strawberries by candlelight. What could be more romantic?
I called home and asked Norma if she would like to have dinner at Le Grenier, the well-known French Restaurant on Main Street in Vineyard Haven. I think that dining out in a fine restaurant where I cannot pronounce most of the items on the menu adds to the romantic atmosphere.

"So we're just supposed to go there and eat and you're going to write about it?" Norma asked cautiously.

Then she reminded me, "You know our first-ever date was on Valentine's Day." There was a brief pause. "First-ever," she added by way of emphasis.

Up to this point I had taken a strictly professional and gastronomical view of my assignment. But she was right. It dawned on me that by taking on this assignment I would accumulate romantic wife points and get paid. I was overcome with feelings of love for my job.

I made early reservations at Le Grenier. Sixteen years ago when we first went out there was no dog and no teenage daughter to consider.

Our first official date was in the midst of a bleak Vineyard winter made bearable only by a once-a-week outing with Norma and her friends at the Capawock Theatre dollar night. Getting up the courage to commit, I asked Norma out on Valentine's Day.