Sexy Feast: Finding a Good Match at emmer&rye

emmer_clams_600_8436I have a friend who simply adores emmer&rye. When I ask why, she says the dishes feel right for the moment, simple enough to highlight stellar ingredients and yet still creative.

I think about this as I sit on emmer&rye’s front deck, a late afternoon escape from the office. In my hands I have a slew of menus: happy hour, regular menu, drink menu, and source menu. Prominent on one of the menus are the words “Seasonally inspired, locally derived cuisine.” Okay, I’m intrigued. I check out dishes from both food menus, as well as drinks, and then find myself starting to cross-reference the ingredients with the farmers, cheesemakers, foragers, and more on the sourcing list. Until I get overwhelmed. I care, though not as much as the couple in Portlandia that checks out farm where Colin the chicken was raised.

Enough reading. Show me what you got. I order a few items, wondering, “Are you as good in person as you sound on the menu?”

So what do emmer&rye’s menus teach us about sex?

It’s all about the power of words, and playing the personals to find the perfect match.

Internet dating has become a big industry. If you’ve been out of the game, check out this fascinating article in The New Yorker earlier this month.

For some, writing up the initial profile is the hardest part of getting started with Internet personals. As a sex educator, I often say that we tend to be good at identifying why other people are sexy or good potential partners, but not so good at boosting our own credentials. Success at dating, as in life, starts with our self-esteem.

So, like emmer&rye, come up with quality catch phrases. Or ask your friends to list your good qualities–and then use that list. Make sure your profile differentiates you from the rest of the pack. Make sure it’s accurate (read: no old photos). Make sure it’s YOU.

Continue that process through your correspondence. Be descriptive, compelling, and engaging. And expect the same of your matches. You’ll have to do research to find the right match, and the process takes time and energy. I remember that from my Match.com days of yesteryear. I’d read, re-read, make notes, cross-reference, build folders, read through those folders…

Eventually, you get tired of reading (and writing). You just need to see the “product” and try it out. As happened to me at happy hour.

Not everything will be the perfect match, which is why variety and diversity are so wonderful. For me, at emmer&rye, the highly touted farro fries were a miss. Lots of people love them, but I was underwhelmed. The pork belly dish was better. I loved the pickled rhubarb (and the frisee), but ultimately I prefer my pork belly soft and fatty–not cooked so dry. Cauliflower with local mushrooms and wild greens were more my style, and I savored our moments together. But I found my perfect match with the garlicky clams with ham and chilies. Just as I value a meaty relationship, these were the meatiest clams in memory, and the chilies spiced up that relationship just right.

First published in Seattle Weekly’s Voracious on July 21, 2011.

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