Simmering: Fun spices up Crozet date

When Eric entered the Challenge, Matchmaker had a funny feeling he just might be a catch. A ski-buff who owns a catering business, Eric has wide ranging interests, including hiking, biking, and– not surprisingly– dining out.

The divorced father of two college-aged kids said his schedule is hectic between work and hitting the slopes, but he insisted he'd make time to go out on the town and have a blast with an active, attractive woman. The only problem? At 43, he's over the hill. Or, perhaps more accurately, he's over Afton Mountain in Staunton.

That wasn't a problem for 41-year-old Helen, a petite Crozet-based single mother of three who was widowed two years ago. Ready to find some romance, Helen, a bookstore manager, was pretty specific about what she's looking for.

"I'd like to have a nice, laid back guy to go dancing, dine out, watch movies on a rainy day, give each other massages, go on a hike and picnic, maybe go away for a romantic weekend," she explained. The kicker, however, was her final request: "It would be nice if he could cook."

How 'bout a caterer, Helen?

Did this date have all the right ingredients? Take a whiff, or better yet, read on.


The Date

 Eric and Helen met at Cocina del Sol in Crozet


How did you get ready for the date?

 Helen: Took the kids to the babysitter and was running late. Rushed home and grabbed a quick shower. I agonized over what to wear. Couldn't get my best friend on her cell to get her advice! Did a last minute change of clothes to be more casual.

Eric: By driving for three hours in a snowstorm after a full day of skiing in West Virginia. Then I took a shower.


Who arrived first?

Eric: I did.

Helen: He was sitting at the bar having a beer.


Were you nervous?

Helen: Hell, yes! Who would want their "date gone bad" in The Hook?

Eric: I wasn't nervous until about 15 minutes before the date.


 First impression?

Helen: Cute guy. Relaxed. He was wearing a leather jacket, gray pullover with jeans, and LL Bean clogs.

Eric: Pretty woman, at ease with the situation– once she got her margarita. She was wearing cowboy boots, jeans, a nice sweater and beautiful earrings.


What did you order?

 Helen: We shared the appetizer platter and tried some of each other's entrees. I had a spicy beef dish. Eric tried the fresh tortillas. I can't remember what the dishes were called– I was having too much fun.

Eric: The food was very good– the spicy chicken spring rolls, the guacamole, my pork dish, her beef dish, but especially the homemade tortillas. The service was attentive but not intrusive. We stayed until closing but never got the feeling we were being booted out.


Did you get drinks?

Helen: I got two margaritas. Eric was more adventurous in his choice of drinks. With dinner, Eric suggested that I choose white or red wine. I chose white, and he picked the vintage.

Eric: I had a Mojito and a fancy tequila sunrise. Then we split a delicious bottle of King Family Vineyard Roseland. Very good!


What did you talk about?

Helen: I think the only thing we didn't talk about was politics. Oh, yeah, I think I forgot to tell him about that dog I had when I was 11. We talked about family, where we grew up, how we got to this area, work, hiking, food, vineyard hopping.

Eric: We talked about my relationship with my ex-wife, her late husband, kids, work, skiing (well, I talked about skiing), and music– the Grateful Dead, Beatles, and The Doors are bands we enjoy. We shared some favorite restaurants in Charlottesville. We laughed a lot.


Helen: I was impressed with Eric's professionalism about his catering business. Gee, he had a 7:30 appointment Saturday that he still made it to. That says something, huh? Ooooooh! A clue! How did Helen know he made it there?MM

 Eric: We both have kids; however, mine are in college, and hers are at home. Hiking is a common interest– a springtime hike to Humpback Rocks is planned. Another clue!MM


Any turn-offs?

Helen: Can't think of any.

Eric: No noticeable turn-offs– our interests and vices are similar.


Was there chemistry?

Helen: Maybe. Well, well, if it isn't Helen of coy... –MM

 Eric: We seemed to hit it off after a short while– and the flirting started after we were done with dinner.


Did you do anything after dinner?

Helen: We went to another bar/restaurant across the way and had a beer or two. Eric insisted on paying for all the drinks. I tried to be a modern girl and split it, but he insisted.

Eric: After we left the restaurant, we went to hear some music up the block (and grab another beer). Again, we were the last to leave.


How did the date end? Did you kiss?

 Helen: Am I really supposed to tell? Okay, a very nice kiss at the end.

Eric: The date ended with a kiss and a hug and an exchange of phone numbers.


Overall date experience?

Helen: I had a lot of fun.

Eric: The date was great!


Would you see this person again?

 Helen: Yes.

Eric: I'd like to.


On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the date?

 Helen: I would rate it a 9.5. I would have given him a perfect 10, but he must have forgotten to get flowers during his drive in the snowstorm back from West Virginia.

Eric: 9


Sounds like this date tasted just right. Matchmaker will keep you posted to see if things between these two keep on cooking...