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Five Sneaky Date Escapes

All parents need to get away for a little alone time once in awhile… but when it depends on babysitters and busy schedules, it’s not always possible. Here are a few ways to rekindle your relationship over dinner - whether the kids are around or not.

1. Date night in the car. No, it’s not ideal. But when our son was tiny, one night we drove to Kensington out of desperation and ordered hot chocolates to go from Starbucks, and got a pizza from Pulcinella, and sat in the car with our fussy baby, listened to music, and ate pizza. When he roused and cried, we’d drive until he settled, then pull over, and eat another slice. Not a perfect night out, but a memory we still have 10 years later.

2. Eat some meat. Many people opt for fancy restaurants on date night, but at the Hayden Block Smoke & Whiskey in Kensington, you can order meat by the pound and any number of sides, along with beer, wine, whiskey, and cocktails. After 10pm, all the meat is half price… and eating meltingly tender brisket, short ribs, and pulled pork with your fingers can be a fun way to reconnect.

3. Order in after bedtime. On busy nights, feed the kids some pasta and tuck them into bed early, then set the table and order something in for just the two of you.

4. Have a date night dinner party. Invite a few friends over, hire a babysitter, and shoo all the kids down to the basement, and bring in a personal chef to cook for everyone. Top Chef alum and Chopped winner Pierre Lamielle does custom dinner parties in your own home, and will even shop and clean up - you can learn as he cooks, watch and ask questions, and it costs less than if everyone went out to a restaurant.

5. Go for high tea. While the kids are at school, schedule a mid-afternoon appointment, and meet for high tea at the Fairmont Palliser. Select your tea (or choose a cocktail) and sit back in high-backed plush chairs and pick from tiered trays of finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream, and bite-sized sweets while you chat. You can eat as little or as much as you like, and take any leftovers home for the kids. (They require reservations, so schedule your meeting a day in advance.)

Julie is a best-selling cookbook author, food writer, cooking instructor, and the food and nutrition columnist on the Calgary Eyeopener on CBC Radio. For more information and to subscribe to Julie’s ‘Free Lunch’, delicious deliveries right to your inbox, visit dinnerwithjulie.com

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