The Art Of The End Of The Year Meal

The year 2011 is coming to a close and for the next week or so, that means the Internet will be aflutter with Best of Lists and predictions for what's going to happen in 2012. As the Mayans have been so persistent in telling us, it makes no sense to try to predict what's on tap for next year. There will be no next year. The Cubs will never win a World Series. We will never have a female president. Cloned meat will never make it to grocery store shelves. The world is ending and there's no point in thinking about the future. That's why you should just focus on the year that we're leaving behind. Celebrate the fact that you're still alive (for the time being) and cherish the year that was with a lavish End of the Year Meal for you and your special someone (Exclusive End of the World Edition!).

The End of the Year Meal has been a part of my life since shortly after college. It's the perfect way to evaluate the past 12 months and eat some killer food in the process. You can celebrate with a big group of friends if you choose, but I prefer to make it a one-on-one intimate occasion with the object of my affection. In all honesty, it's hard to make relationships work. If you've made it this far, good for you. Take this opportunity to celebrate your love together with an unforgettable night dedicated to each other.

Let's get one thing straight — you're not cooking for this one. Cooking is great and a wonderful way to enjoy each other's company on a normal night, but this isn't a normal night. This is the End of the Year Dinner and nobody's doing dishes. You're picking the most extravagant restaurant you can find and you're ordering the tasting menu. For one night, pretend you're an Internet billionaire or an old-money shipping magnate. Dust off your top hat and monocle and get ready to be Mr. Monopoly, because you are dropping some serious coin for the End of the Year Dinner and you don't even get to feel guilty about it. As Donna and Tom always say, "Treat Yo Self!"

I'm always torn about where to go for the End of the Year Dinner. On one hand, I have some old favorites that never disappoint. On the other hand, I've got a list about six Mayan temples high of restaurants that I've been meaning to try. Do I chance it and gamble on the hot new modern Vietnamese place or stick with the Michelin-starred seafood powerhouse? The choice is ultimately yours, but I like to play it safe for a meal like this. I'm notoriously surly and if I end up having a bad restaurant experience for a big-time splurge like this, I'm going to be pretty pissed. That's not to say an old stand-by won't let you down, but they've proven themselves before so it's a safe assumption that they'll come through for you again. When it comes to special occasion meals, it's always best to be a little conservative in your dining choice.

The rest is pretty straightforward. Take your lady (or gentleman) out for a night on the town. Let them know what they mean to you. Tell them how much you're looking forward to spending the next year with them. Then sit them down and force them to watch the John Cusack classic 2012 while explaining why you may want to see other people after the Apocalypse. Should be a pretty special night for both of you.