As you all know, Valentine’s Day is next Sunday.
Many of you will wave your hands and go, “Dannis, Valentine’s Day is silly. We celebrate our love every day. Valentine’s Day is a horseshit made-up holiday.” Then you will plan a cool Valentine’s Day date, either at a restaurant, or with a fancy meal at home for you and your loved one. Afterwards, you will probably have a blow-out argument. Then you will do angry sex, pout, and go to bed.
Meanwhile, I will be at home, alone, crying with my very small cat Cricket, along with my diminutive pals Harvey and Mr. Bee. I live a very lonely life that is full of culinary garbage.
Now, at this time last year, I showed you how to bake a cake from ingredients you can get at a sex shop, called The Sexual Chocolate Valentine’s Day Cake, and then I trolled you with a heartbreaking story about how a girl broke up with me after a dinner at Alinea. These were two very good things.
Everyone always asks me, “Dannis, are you dating someone?” The answer is always no. It has been a very long time since I’ve gone on an actual date. Tinder, OKCupid, Bumble, all those silly dating apps yielded zero results for me. It has been many years since I have been on a date. All I see on the horizon is oblivion, eternal darkness, and unrelenting solitude, but it’s cool. We’ll all die alone someday.
Since I know there are many of you out there who are single like me, I said to myself, “Dannis Ree, how can you simulate a romantic holiday by yourself? What is the dumbest and most pathetic thing you can do alone?”
Have fondue for one.
Everyone knows fondue is one of the most romantic types of meals you can have, because if all goes poorly, at least you can stab the other person with a very small pronged fork.
For this Valentine’s Day simulation, I went to a very nice restaurant in the Roger’s Park neighborhood of Chicago, called Fondue Stube. It is a very charming little place that is dimly lit, so no one can see the tears running down your face as you’re cheesing up some bread.
I dressed up in a button-down shirt and tie, and brought my two best inanimate friends, Harvey and Mr. Bee.
Question: Why does a grown-ass man who is almost 35 years old bring stuffed animals to a restaurant?
Answer: It is because he is a loser.
At Fondue Stube, they have many different kinds of fondues, including cheese fondues, oil-based fondues (where you cook your own food on skewers in hot oil), and chocolate fondue.
Thankfully, with all those choices, they have a few predetermined three-course options to make your life a little easier. I went with the simple Sinfonia Eroica, which is salad, garlic bread, Swiss cheese fondue with bread and apples, sirloin beef fondue, and a classic chocolate fudge fondue for dessert.
I mainly picked this one because it has the word “eroica” in it, which is one letter shy of the word “erotica.” I was hoping it actually meant “erotica” in Italian, because I was planning on going home to piledrive your mother in the back of a windowless van afterwards (she actually lives out of it), but turns out this mystery word just means “heroic.”
Is there anything better than enjoying a salad with two of your best friends?
If your best friends are stuffed animals, then the answer is yes. Everything is better than enjoying a salad with two of your best friends.
As I thoughtfully munched on my salad and garlic bread, my server brought out this fondue stand with an open flame beneath it.
Harvey and Mr. Bee went to check it out. It was very interesting to them since they normally avoid open flame.
Swiss cheese fondue is delicious, stretchy, nutty, and just a touch bitter in a good way.
It’s traditionally fortified by a touch of kirsch, a cherry brandy. While the idea might seem a bit odd, kirsch adds a complex flavor, slightly fruity, slightly floral, and 100% sexual.
The Swiss cheese fondue comes with bread and tart green apples for dipping.
As you can see, the cheese drips off the bread sensually. It’s like a man entirely made out of cheese skeeted all over the bread and the apples, while screaming, “skeet skeet skeet!” When your mother comes home from work she is almost always covered in a similar substance, but I don’t ask her too many questions about it. She gets grumpy.
Apples and Swiss cheese go together very well, just like Harvey and Mr. Bee.
Some things in this world were just meant to go together, like my penis and my right hand.
Next, the server brought out a different fondue stand and cranked up the fire for the soybean oil.
It is interesting to fry your own food at the dinner table. This seems like a fire hazard, but I like my meals seasoned with salt, pepper, and danger.
He brought me a bear paw-shaped plate with sirloin steak, carrots, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, and broccoli, along with four dipping sauces.
From the upper left to right, the sauces are: Raspberry barbecue sauce, curry mayonnaise, steak sauce, and béarnaise, which is a seasoned Hollandaise often flavored with tarragon, chervil, and shallot. You know béarnaise is a fancy steak accompaniment because it has an accent over the e.
It is not particularly easy to cook your steak in a pot of bubbling oil, as I found out.
However, it is very entertaining. There is a little helpful guide on the placemats that describe how long to cook each item. In my mind, it is a very sexy idea to feed your date red meat on a long thin sharp fork, but in practice, the oil dripping off the food is so hot that it’d probably injure them. Some people are into that sort of shit.
The meat cooked reasonably well, but each piece came out cooked differently.
I blame the chef, who was me.
Deep-fried vegetables are very oily.
I thought that fried broccoli might be a bad idea, but it’s actually pretty good. The florets get crispy in hot oil, but they do stay a little greasy. People started staring at me once they saw me taking pictures of my food, but I tried my best to ignore them. Their stares pierced me like tiny daggers, over and over again, burying themselves deeply into my shriveled broken heart.
Dessert comes with a show; when the chocolate fondue is brought out, your server lights it on fire so you can roast your marshmallows.
I am about as good at roasting marshmallows as I am at relationships. Mine became torched beyond recognition within moments, and my dessert tasted like carcinogens. Every previous moment in my life led me to roasting marshmallows on a fondue pot, alone. Man, eating fondue at a restaurant by yourself is very strange. None of you should try it.
Of course, there’s plenty more fruit to be dipped in chocolate.
I pictured myself dripping scalding chocolate all over my peepee for a lover to lick off, but man, ever get chocolate in your urethra? That shit stings. I highly recommend it.
As I ate the last of my dessert, I came up with a great business plan for a themed restaurant called Fondudes.
Fondudes would be a fondue-only restaurant with all-male servers wearing nothing but Speedos and chef toques, which are those funny puffy white hats. They would all address you as “dude” or “bro,” and most of them would have oil splatter burns all over their forearms. It’s like Benihana but much sexier. There’ll be something called “Boner Night,” where every Tuesday the servers all have boners and accidentally bump into you the entire evening. I’m gonna be rich. I’ll show you.
I’ll show you all.
This is the dumbest threat ever.
At the end of the meal, the server politely asked me out of curiosity why I was taking photos of my meal and the stuffed animals.
I had to think fast. Without skipping a beat, I said, “Do you know what Flat Andy is?”
“No,” he replied. “What’s a Flat Andy?”
“Well,” I said, “Flat Andy is a little cutout of a guy people take around the world. People pose with him and take photos of him and show their kids that Flat Andy has been everywhere. These little stuffed animals are my niece’s.” I pointed to Harvey and Mr. Bee, who were lying on the table, motionless, terrified that I’d get caught for being a loser. “I’m doing the same thing, but with her stuffed animals.”
In the back of my mind I was panicking. I don’t even have a niece.
“Oh!” he said, delighted. “Where’s your niece from?”
“Arlington Heights,” I said. Arlington Heights is a suburb about a 30 minute drive outside Chicago. I don’t know why I said my made-up niece lived in Arlington Heights. It was the first thing that flew out of my mouth.
“Awesome!” He said. “So not far at all.”
“Well,” I said, “She’s just a kid. She’s never had fondue. She’ll never know the difference.”
In any case, I hope you guys have a lovely Valentine’s Day. Eat some good food, pat your lovers gently on the genitals, and tell them you love them very much. Hug them tightly for a second too long, and for those of you good-ol’ single folks out there, just know I’m right there with you.
As for fondue by yourself?
Don’t do it. Go eat at a buffet until you throw up instead. You know, like normal sad people. Leave the really sad shit to me.