Valentine’s Day came and went, and if you were lucky enough to have a date Tuesday, you probably had dinner as far away from your residential college dining hall as possible. And I don’t blame you — vegan shepherd’s pie just doesn’t impress a girl like lobster tails in béchamel sauce. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have an amorously appetizing experience in Yale’s dining halls.
With tables full of acrid jocks and day-old newspapers strewn about, Commons doesn’t seem very conducive to a romantic dinner. But turning your dining hall into a den of love is easier than you think. Find a table in a dark corner or sneak into a fellows’ room to escape the dreaded din of the frozen yogurt machine. Light some candles, whip out that bottle of pinot noir you smuggled in your backpack and voila! Your lover won’t be able to tell Pierson from Le Bec Fin.
The main course is an important part of a romantic dinner. But the key to post-prandial success is what you do for dessert. While they don’t serve oysters in Branford, the dining halls aren’t short on aphrodisiacs: There are baskets filled with round, succulent oranges and long, hard, throbbing bananas. Bring these back to your table along with any fruit or other food available that goes well with chocolate. Why, you ask? Because tonight, the dining hall is serving fondue.
Fill a bowl with chocolate chips from the ice cream topping bar. Pour in a little cream, sugar and melted butter and pop it in the microwave until a little more than half the chocolate has melted. Take the bowl out and add a bit more cream. Repeat this process until you get the desired consistency, and let the dipping begin!
Ideally, the dining hall will have fresh berries to dunk in the fondue. If berries aren’t available, use any other fresh fruit. If there’s no fresh fruit, use the slimy canned peaches they hide next to the cottage cheese in the least visible part of the dining hall. If slime isn’t what you had in mind for desert, coat your finger in chocolate and have your date lick it off. It’s not what you dip in the chocolate that makes fondue sexy — it’s how you eat it.
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup cream
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp sugar
1. Microwave butter until melted. Pour over chocolate with some cream and microwave until about half the chocolate is melted (about 70 seconds in Yale’s old and weak microwaves).
2. Take out of microwave and give it a stir. Add remaining cream and sugar. Microwave until mixture attains consistency of Yale’s famous alpine cream soup.
3. Dip fruit, cookies or whatever you think might taste good coated in chocolate. (My personal favorite: dunk a spoonful of peanut butter in the fondue and let it sit for about 15 seconds. When the velvety mixture of peanut butter and chocolate hits your tongue, your brains will fall out from this sinfully delicious treat.)
If you and your significant other like playing with food together, the fun doesn’t have to end with fondue. Take some shredded coconut and put it in a small plastic bag with some corn flakes, frosted flakes or your favorite cereal, and any nuts available at the ice cream station. Crush the contents with your fist and encourage your date to join in the mashing process. Lather honey over a couple banana slices and microwave. Scoop some ice cream on top of the bananas and drizzle on some of the melted chocolate. Sprinkle the mashed mixture onto the ice cream and you’ll wonder why you ever wasted money taking a girl out for dessert.
Sure, going out is nice for Valentine’s Day. But there’s no reason you shouldn’t have a romantic meal in the dining hall on any given night. All it takes to create a little magic in the air is a little magic in the microwave.
Cocobanana Valentine Treat
2 tbsp honey
1/2 cup shredded coconut (Toast it if your dining hall has a toaster oven instead of a heated conveyor belt as a toaster.)
1 cup corn flakes, frosted flakes, or your favorite cereal (Cracklin’ Oat Bran works great.)
1/2 cup nuts (The peanuts from the ice cream station do the job, but an even better strategy is to pick out the slivered almonds from bakeshop granola.)
2 scoops ice cream (Vanilla’s pretty much your only option here. If pigs happen to be flying and the dining hall has coconut or ginger ice cream, take the whole tub.)
1 cup chocolate fondue (Use recipe from above.)
1. Put coconut, cereal and nuts in a plastic bag. Crush contents and set aside.
2. Cut banana into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange on a plate. Spread honey over banana.
3. Scoop ice cream on top of honey-coated bananas. Drizzle chocolate fondue on ice cream. Sprinkle crushed coconut, cereal and nuts.
4. Garnish with a maraschino cherry or sprig of mint. (You might have to sneak that in with the pinot!)