I did it. I absolutely overwhelmed and buried the boy in food. Thank you for all of your input. Oh wait... thanks for your well wishes at least.
The final menu, which was something of an odyssey in the undertaking was this:
Appetizer: roasted asparagus and tomato on polenta crostini with Parmesan shavings and balsamic drizzle.
Pasta: roasted garlic and eggplant ravioli with rosemary cream sauce
Main: grilled swordfish and vegetables with (highly recommended) green parsley/anchovy/pine nut pesto-type sauce.
Dessert: Limoncello infused raspberries without the vanilla whipped cream I'd planned because I forgot about it.
Dinner went quite well, considering it was this close to unmitigated disaster. I burned the eggplant. I burned my hand. I burned half the tomatoes. I used all the red pepper in the vegetables instead of on the crostini. I infused the raspberries too long. I might have been a tad bit nervous...
Saturday, darling Joe took me around town to gather everything I'd need for the meal. Above and beyond the call of duty, considering he? wasn't getting fed. We walked the length and breadth of Dublin. Literally. I wanted veal. I had my mouth set on veal. We visited 8 butchers. There is no veal in Dublin. At least not for me. We met at Barnie's and walked to the Temple Bar Market. Then we walked to Fallon and Byrnes. Then we walked to the Italian quarter, north of the river. Paolo of Bottega di Paolo recommended Marks + Spencer for the veal, or his 2 favorite butchers. Off to M+S further north of the river. No veal. We walked south of the river to Charlemont, very near the Bleeding horse. Still no veal. We walked to Baggot street and that's when I gave up. One wine bar, 3 cookbooks, and many calls to information later, the menu was rewritten to include swordfish, which was located at the fish market just off Grafton. Fish in hand, we set off back to Fallon and Byrne, then to the Bottega again, where Paolo recommended the sauce, explained how he'd make the fish, and then sent me out the door saying if Lamborghini Boy wasn't impressed to come back and he'd date me. We stopped at Enoteca for a Spumante (fortification purposes!) and then headed back south of the river to Grafton street where we met friends of Joe's for drinks, who convinced me that I'd so overshot the mark, that he'd be intimidated and I'd never hear from him again after the dinner. I do have a problem with intimidating men, so they hit their mark dead on. Minor panic attack just before I trudged home with the groceries and collapsed on the sofa, exhausted and, frankly, starving. So back on my feet to make a quick and dirty red sauce with the fresh oregano I'd purchased but relegated to the back burner after the Bottega. Eat, watch TV (really just staring at it) collapse into bed, fall into a deep (well...) sleep only to be woken by some stupid person texting me at 2am. That's the thing about my type of insomnia; once I'm woken, I'm done. I tossed and turned all night, waking every hour or so.
Exhausted and rather cranky, I got out of bed at 930 or 10 and made coffee. Weak coffee. Coffee with no flavor, which, for those that have had my coffee, would have realized was my first clue to scrap it, order a pizza and play cute. But did I? Noooo. Finished up with the last of the groceries, primped and then set into the food preparations. I cut two of my fingernails off with the paring knife. I grated my thumbnail accidentally. I bruised by the top of my foot and the top of my hand in god only knows what graceful maneuver. That's when I started burning shit. He had better be worth it was used as both a mantra and a curse. Probably more of a curse, truth be told. I set the table, dragged the grill out, and realized that I had charcoal but couldn't find the lighter brick things. Exhaustive search of the house turned up the brick things and also produced a worrying trend of missing shoes. (I didn't find shoes, I realized they are missing) Start the grill and wait for guest to arrive. Guest arrives, flames on BBQ have gone out, leaving only the outside of the briquettes smouldering. How on earth did I manage to do this every day while sleep deprived and high on model building supplies?! He, of course took all of 10 seconds to light a perfect mound of charcoal. (I really hate being incompetent.) And then, things turned out perfectly.
He took one look at the crostini (which really did look fab) made some appreciative comment about the preparations and I knew I had him. By the time he realized I'd made ravioli, he was done for and admitted that he hadn't expected nearly this preparation, nor this kind of food, and if he were cooking for me it wouldn't be nearly this. Hee.... right thing to say Lamborghini Boy. And? It appears I hit my mark dead on. He loves asparagus, adores ravioli, has a weakness for Limoncello and agrees with Mark that my London skirt is a triumph.
The food was really good and I have to admit, I outdid myself. Hands down, the best meal I've cooked in quite some time, possibly ever. Rob-bob, you'd have been proud.
Turns out victory is almost as sweet as Limoncello.