Date number one was lunch with American film maker Morgan Spurlock, who is most famous for eating nothing but McDonald’s for a month in his highly acclaimed and hugely successful documentary Supersize Me. Morgan was in Wellington for the New Zealand Film Festival promoting his new film The Greatest Film Ever Sold, and he joined me for the Skinny Hip burger on a sunny Wellington day at Hippopotamus Restaurant, in the Museum Hotel.
It started with a kiss, and a photo shoot. I liked his movie. He liked my blog. It ended with him offering up a second date, where he cooks us burgers for dinner. In New York. It couldn’t have really gone any better.
This is how I broke the ice:
DM: “So I thought I’d start by asking you a bit about dating culture in the States, since you’re American, and about the rules of dating, since we don’t really have a dating culture here in New Zealand”
MS: “Oh really, you don’t? What do you do here?”
DM: “Well, pretty much you just get drunk and hook up and kind of go from there.”
He cracked up. He then proceeded to offer some very sage dating advice, intertwined with hilarious tales of dates ranging from epic to tragic. Not entirely sure of explicit rules, he did recall the one about ‘3-day calling’ - not calling for 3 days after the first date - which could be summed up most importantly with not appearing desperate. He reiterated this a few times: it is very important to never appear desperate. It is also important, nay crucial, according to Spurlock, to not have sex on the first date. Ever.
Unless you’re in College and the “bona fide 10” girl you’ve been lusting after finally agrees to a date. You go for dinner, like you would on any proper first date, and she swiftly drops from a 10 to a 2 the second she gets a fork in her hand. “It was like she had just discovered what a fork was and she may as well have been wearing a feed-bag!” Knowing that he was never, ever going to see her again once she was talking with her mouthful, when the opportunity presented itself later on in the evening to bed this beauty, she became the exception to that rule.
Spurlock strongly believes that on any first date, it pays to meet for a drink first. A couple of drinks are essential but it is important that you “don’t get sloppy”. His other signature move? Always have a dinner reservation ready for after drinks. If things are going well, it will naturally progress to dinner, but the last thing you want is to be stuck at a meal with a dud.
When asked what impresses me on a date, I said I’m a sucker for being cooked for. It’s obvious now that being made to laugh rates pretty highly too. The stories kept coming, and I was in hysterics with the one about the date that began with drinks, successfully progressed to dinner, and ended up being a 10 hour epic adventure ending in a hotel room. The girl, after champagne, ended up drunkenly hacking her legs with a razor in an attempt to shave them which required the assistance of the hotel paramedic. This may or may not have been the only other time that rule was broken.
So is chivalry dead? Growing up in the Midwest of the USA meant that Spurlock prides himself on opening car doors and always walking on the road side of the footpath when with a girl. He was brought up well, and whilst he always pays on the first date, he was receptive to negotiating with strong independent women on who pays for date number two. We agreed that whilst it’s so important to impress early on, it’s later on in relationships that you need to keep the effort up. Laughing in pity at boring couples who go out to dinner and don’t talk to each other was one thing we had in common.
By the time the meal came we were discussing what length of time was appropriate before you can fart in front of the person you’re dating. He thought at least six months, but I wasn’t convinced it was ever ok. He pushed it out to “maybe a year?” as he thinks for girls it’s still important to be ladylike.
And so to the burger:
Hippopotamus Head Chef Laurent Loudeac has created a vegetarian option for this year’s Burger Wellington challenge. A poached egg is perched atop a garlic roasted portobello mushroom, a corn fritter, haloumi, tomato and rocket. Encased in a gluten-free homemade bun, it’s finished with Laurent’s balsamic drizzle. The corn fritter was a delight in both taste and texture, and we both appreciated that this burger was proud to be vegetarian and wasn’t trying to masquerade as meat. Spurlock declared it the best vegetarian burger he’d ever had, and I thought it was up there, neither of us actually being vegetarian. The mushroom was robust and strong, but I think it overpowered the thinly sliced haloumi, which I didn’t really detect flavour wise. It was a well crafted feat in burger creation, and beautifully presented. The fries went untouched at Spurlock’s suggestion for burger-gorging survival, but like any good food critic I tasted a couple simply to try the aioli. I swiftly remembered though that garlic is first date disaster material.
The Dominion Post snapped a photo for an article, and asked Morgan why he said yes to a date with me. “A burger and a date? Why wouldn’t I? It’s win-win!” And it was. He was a delight, as was the service, the food, the sunshine streaming in, the harbour views, and the Tuatara Pilsner the burger was washed down with.
Having discussed dating dating in depth - the best, the worst, the etiquette and the rules, we agreed that most importantly, you shouldn’t plan for much and you should remain open to anything. Let it happen. Those 10-hour booze filled, epic dates that end with a hungover walk to work the next day you simply can’t plan for. In dating, and in life, it is important to go with the flow, have fun and you won’t be disappointed.
And I wasn’t.
The Vital Stats:
This date was the whole package, and the burger was great.
4.5 out of 5 with mitigating factors being the time constraint and the photographers at the nearby couch!
A hard act to follow in every way. Hey Morgan, see you in New York for burger date number two!
Thanks to Hippopotamus for hosting date #1