Making it a Double Date Night

by Pamela

Date Night Cabernet Making it a Date Night

If you’ve been reading My Man’s Belly for any amount of time, you know that I am a huge proponent for having a weekly date night – regardless of what is going on in your life.  These special hours (even if it’s only 1 or 2) are what can keep you sane in an otherwise moronic and chaotic world.  They also help you to grow together, as opposed to growing apart over time.

This week I had the opportunity to meet with the ultimate embodiment of the date night – Suzanne Phifer-Pavitt.  Suzanne and her husband Shane are the proud parents of 2 incredibly sweet boys and Phifer-Pavitt wines.  Yes, I also got to meet the future proprietors of Phifer-Pavitt wines, and I believe the winery will be in good hands as the boys have an exquisite food palate which includes items like Emmental cheese, fried lemon slices and calamari – it isn’t hot dogs and Lunchables these boys like to eat.

Suzanne and her husband Shane have been having their weekly date nights for more than 10 years.  The tradition started as a way to keep their long distance relationship going.  Since they both traveled extensively, they would carve out a trip that would put them in the same city at the same time and have a date night.  Four months later, they were married.

Their date nights allowed them to have discussions that the normal day to day conversations couldn’t allow time for…their hopes and dreams.  On a particular date night they challenged each other to think about what their ultimate vocation and life would be if there were no restrictions like time or money.  So was born the goal of owning and operating their own winery.  Not long after that they looked at a property, went out for dinner (yep, it was date night) and decided to go for it.  They wrote up their offer on the back of a paper menu, from the restaurant, and faxed it over for approval – it was approved.  Fast forward 8 years and they have released two vintages of their Date Night Cabernet, with a third on the way.  (Are you dizzy from the whirlwind yet?)

Suzanne is a Southern woman through and through and her generous spirit and enthusiasm is highly contagious.  When I arrived at the restaurant, Suzanne already had two glasses of 2006 Date Night poured for us.  (Yes, date night decisions and the tradition of date night is so important to Suzanne and Shane that they named their Cabernet Sauvignon – Date Night.)  But the glasses would have to wait.  We got to talking so much, that we didn’t even start into our wines until a good hour plus after we sat down (anyone who knows me knows that it’s got to be some conversation for me not to dive right in when it comes to tasting a new wine – my other hobby (aside from cooking) is wine).

While I could go on and wax poetic about bouquet and tannins and body, in this case I’m just going to be very frank.  There are a lot of fruit flavors in this wine so it’s a wine that most people will like.  It’s not super dry like some Cabernet’s can be.  It can be consumed with or without food.  Also, the grapes that go into their wines are grown organically.  For you wine enthusiasts out there….the 2006 vintage of Phifer-Pavitt Date Night Cabernet received 93 points from Wine Spectator.  It can be consumed now or cellared for another 7 years.  It’s made up of 98% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Petit Verdot.

We eventually had the wine with some feta stuffed, prosciutto wrapped roasted figs and some meatballs.  The wine paired really nicely with both of the dishes.  Although we both preferred the wine much more than the food that was brought out (more on that in a bit 😉 ).  Suzanne and I talked more about what makes a perfect date night.  Because of her busy schedule, she says that now they find themselves calling a babysitter to watch the boys and they take a bottle of wine and some food out to their guest house and simply retreat there for a couple of hours.  It allows her and Shane to get caught up with one another and just be a couple rather than business owners, executives, parents and any other new titles they may have acquired during the week.  I relayed that Craig and I do something similar.  We’ll cook something together, sit down to eat and not talk about anything work related during that time.  Both of us find this allows us to renew and re-charge.

Suzanne gave me the remaining Date Night to take home and to share with Craig.  So I decided to make my own version of the prosciutto wrapped figs, which tasted much better with the wine.

Relationship Advice

Take the time to make a date night once a week.  Even if you just take a walk around the block together – make time for your relationship.  If the story of the creation of Phifer-Pavitt and Date Night Cabernet doesn’t prove to you the power of togetherness and date night’s, nothing will.

Makes 9 – 12  figs


  • 9 Fresh Figs (I used Mission Figs)
  • 1/4 Cup Walnuts
  • 1/2 Cup Goat Cheese
  • 1 3 Ounce Package of Prosciutto
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • Honey
  • Balsamic Vinegar


Heat grill to 300 – 400 degrees Farenheit.

In a small saute pan add walnut pieces and toast over medium heat.  Nuts are done when the skins turn slightly darker brown and start to smell nutty.

Remove from heat, let cool and chop into small pieces.

In a small bowl combine goat cheese and walnut pieces.  Stir to thoroughly combine.

Wash and pat dry figs.

Cut a slit into one side of each of the figs.  Only cut on the body of the fig and do not cut all the way through.

Pinch the figs so that the slit you just cut pops open slightly.

Scoop about a teaspoon of the goat cheese walnut mixture and roll into a ball.  Insert the ball into the opening of a fig.  Close the sides of the fig gently around the cheese (you will not be able to completely close the gap and that’s fine).  Continue with remaining figs.

You may have some of the cheese mixture left over.  Cover and use it in salads.

Remove the slices of prosciutto from the package and stack them on top of each other.

With a sharp knife, cut the pieces in half lengthwise.

Take one slice of prosciutto and wrap it around one of the figs.  Make sure to cover the exposed cheese as much as possible.  Continue with remaining figs and prosciutto.  Extra pieces of prosciutto can be used for more coverage, if needed or re-wrapped and used later.

Lightly brush each fig with olive oil.

Place each fig, bottom side down onto the grill and cook for 2 minutes.

Turn figs on to their sides and cook for 1 minute.  Keep turning figs and cooking until all sides are golden brown.

When desired level of browning has been achieved, remove from grill.

Plate up the figs and drizzle with honey and balsamic vinegar (or balsamic vinegar reduction).

Phifer-Pavitt Date Night Cabernet is available direct through the winery.


Lynne @ CookandBeMerry July 21, 2010 at 5:21 pm

Those figs look fantastic and I can imagine them with the wine. Delish!

Andrea @ Fork Fingers Chopsticks July 19, 2010 at 12:15 am

Great relationship advice and recipe. I am a ferdent believe of dating the spouse. Despite a hectic schedule last week, we carved out a day to escape to the mountains for a long hike. It was a perfect way to reconnect. The downside was the snacks – I usually pack something pretty hearty and tasty. Running short on time, I just threw some fruit and nuts in my pack. Sure wish I would have had those figs and a glass of vino as we lounged by a lake surrounded by snow-capped mountains.

Lynne July 18, 2010 at 4:06 pm

I love figs! This recipe looks great! I love the date night idea!

Brad July 18, 2010 at 7:03 am

I agree, a weekly datenight is a great tradition.

lisaiscooking July 17, 2010 at 6:49 am

Goat cheese, figs, and walnuts is a wonderful thing. So is date night. I’ll have to look for the wine to go with our next one!

Magic of Spice July 16, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Sounds wonderful:)

Lentil Breakdown July 16, 2010 at 2:19 pm

I just bought some fig balsamic vinegar and a bottle of hazelnut oil. Am thinking that pair would be good on figs with roasted hazelnuts. Now I only have to find a date for date night.

Pamela July 16, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Oh yeah…those would be really good together. I have both of those things as well and love them, even on an ordinary salad (makes it so much better).

By the way, some of my best date nights have involved only myself! 😉

Brian @ A Thought For Food July 16, 2010 at 1:17 pm

I’m not even a meat eater, but I completely understand the whole fig/prosciutto pairing. I mean, you can’t go wrong with those ingredients.

Pamela July 16, 2010 at 1:25 pm

With this wine, you could even leave off the prosciutto and they would be good together.

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