Little Sheep and a Hot "Recipe for Romance"

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I love hot pot. Perhaps the most famous place to get it in China is the huge chain known as Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot. When Little Sheep opened in Bellevue (they already have several restaurants in California, one in Houston, and one opening soon in New York City), I knew I had to go.

Little Sheep (which our Hanna Raskin reviewed about a month ago) is located at the site of a former Black Angus steakhouse, and retains an elegant feel--especially compared to most Chinese restaurants. As at a steakhouse, supper can be spendy, but at Little Sheep, you're paying a premium for quality ingredients.

While waiting for the hot pot to arrive, we enjoyed some hot and spicy beef tendon, delicious bitter melon salad, tender lamb skewers, and a surprisingly good Mongolian beef meat pie. Then came our hot pot, with two containers looking like a yin-yang symbol--half with the original soup base, and half with a fiery red, spicy soup. We wanted as much variety from the menu as possible, so our order included five assorted meat balls, cuttlefish paste, a seafood combination, fried tofu sheet, assorted mushrooms, assorted vegetables, some dumplings, a beef and lamb combo, and lamb shoulder flavored with red wine. (With a name like Little Sheep, it would be silly not to maximize the lamb.) After the orgy of eating all the food from the platters, we then tossed noodles in the hot pot and ate those. Lastly, we devoured bowls of soup with cilantro and a hit of vinegar.

So what does Little Sheep's hot pot teach us about sex?

It's all about cooking to create chemistry.

A hot pot meal is a bit like Asian fondue. You're all huddled around the food. There's a warm feeling, literally and figuratively. Hot pot cookery means putting things in the broth at the proper time and sequence, monitoring the flame and the cooking time, and serving the food to your partner(s). A good "host" (that duty can change many times during the course of the meal) pulls out the cooked food and divides it evenly among the plates, feeding herself or himself last. In traditional Chinese meals, you pour tea for each other. You please others, then experience pleasure yourself. You give, you get. It's a recipe for success.

Just like sex.

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Recipe for Romance is a new adult video that is part of New Sensations' Romance Series. It's the story of two people in the catering business who create chemistry--for their clients, and (ultimately) for each other.

Like all of the Romance Series films, this one has great female and couples appeal, including a plot line that's worth following. The acting won't win Academy Awards, but it's better than in most adult films. The actors and actresses seem to enjoy their roles and are good-looking in a natural way. Most female viewers will appreciate the presence of pubic hair and real breasts. Production quality is high, and the music is decent--not the typical hard-thumping porn soundtrack.

The sex scenes show connectedness and chemistry. There's teasing and tenderness, kissing and caressing. You know: romance. No emphasis on close-up, gyno shots. No focus on penetration. And no facials, which most women dislike. Pop-shots are kept below the neck.

As Samantha Ryan, female lead in Recipe for Romance, explains in the "behind the scenes" extra (see, some people watch that stuff!), "So many movies don't portray real sex," adding, "We want to see what's real, what's true passion." Asked about the appeal of the Romance Series, she says, "These movies bring out that side which I think is really what people are doing more at home," and after additional thought, continues, "For women, we're not just looking for hot people having sex, we want the whole thing . . . getting into the storyline . . . getting really into it . . . real, romantic sex."

Admittedly, I was frustrated and distracted by flaws in some of the food scenes. (Knife skills were terrible, and the chocolate cake was sagging and sad-looking.) But that's the hazard of being both a food writer and sex educator. On the positive side, the bouillabaisse looked pretty good, and certainly had an instantaneous aphrodisiac effect in the movie.

New Sensations notes that the sex scenes "are intended to enhance the story rather than be the focus of the product" and that the series "strives to inspire the mood and let the couples watching take it further." Viewers may have varying perspectives on what they perceive to be steamy, on-screen sex. But they can make steamy, off-screen sex. To that effect, Recipe for Romance is pretty stimulating and hot.

Just as stimulating and hot, if not hotter, than the hot half of Little Sheep's hot pot.

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