A Perfect Dinner Out: do`s and don’t`s

Here I discuss the idea of how to ensure joyful evening with friends. At first, one would argue that with real friends we do not have to make any plans. And this is true too. But when we MAKE plans, we want to have fun. Isn’t this a real life skill? I also touch up on circles of people that surround us. 

Photos: chef and  the owner of Nuovo restaurant in Worcester Alexander, mascarpone figs, an espresso with biscotti liquor. 

Taking time to meet our friends often requires significant planning. The older we get, the more carefully we choose with whom to spend our free time. Especially since there is no such a thing as “free time”. Not because all of us are workaholics or “tiger moms” (some are, though).  Simply because when a person is self sufficient, the feeling of being bored comes from doing something one doesn’t like and not from being alone. In this regard, anytime that we spend with someone is actually “making the time” to spend with this person. Whether it is a conversation over a phone or a dinner together ( drinking with friends on Skype counts too:). How to make sure that those few hours that everyone “made”  are spent together joyfully and leave a good “aftertaste’?  The real zen comes here and not during yoga class. Really, calling drinking parties a zen? Unless the life is not restricted by yoga sessions, yes. Being present, involved and content not only during guided by a certified instructor meditation is an important skill. Being able to set the mood and enjoy life is one of the mindfulness skills to learn .

Right, lets go out for dinner! Having gone to many dinners with friends in the past, I noticed that some of them are fun and joy, while others ..hmm minimum waste of our time. What makes this difference? People first. Agree. Years after years I am trying to eliminate toxic people from my life and plant the people I like. Just like gardening, these relationships need attention and care. And yet, I have few relationships I am not happy with. The reasons vary, but I do minimize the interaction.  But then , there are people who are not my friends, but whom I know as nice people. We do not necessarily share same values and that is ok too. And there are friends, close and not so much, but friends.  In any case,  people are people. So when we go out, I make sure, I do not have strong opinions but rather choices and options. I also pick the place to meet, where people can be late but the rest is not annoyed (restaurant with a bar works well or a nail/hair salon before dinner). If we are out as a small group, I would prefer rather a small cozy place where we can chat, instead of a loud or crowded place. We need to relax, so I also found that fancy restaurants can be intimidating and often snobbish, and this does not really make them a great environment for long conversations ( going to club is different, it is crowded but you are not stuck). On the other hand, small bars, cafe and local restaurants are all great options. I literally hate “family” restaurants. Perhaps there is a good one out there that I never visited. Huge pig-size portions of bad quality food to share..Really? When tight with budget, cafe is my choice.

Once clear on place, the mood is the key. What, you never had a long whining conversation with best friend? :)) Unless this is a “rescue someone” dinner, the mood is the key. I am not good at cracking the joke, but discussing work the whole evening is boring (again, there are exceptions to that – rare ones, when a person is very excited about something). Even after a hard day, on the way to dinner I say myself, this is going to be relaxing! Nice people, good food and drinks – paradise on earth. It is usually enough to set the pace:)

The food. I think, the best thing about eating together is the break. The time between meals to chat, drink and simply to feel the moment are vital. Hungry fast eater (like me) will finish all in 20 min and will feel guilty of overeating…  so take  time for everything! For food and for friends!

Enjoy your life and your friends!

P.S. All above pictures were made in Nuovo restaurant in Worcester, MA. A mix of Italian and Albanian food, artfully presented ( just loved those mascarpone figs!). We had a great time there and got to meet charming and professional chef Alexander.

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