This "tied" for first place in the Golden"O" awards in 2007
Chakotay started to protest but Tom stopped him with a wave of his hand.
"Now, I know your preferences and I won't give you anything you're predisposed to avoid. But trust me, these samples are morsels of pure heaven. Just try a piece or two. I promise you will enjoy the sensation."
Chakotay shook his head, chuckled, then took the proffered chair.
"First, I want you to try this Eggplant Lasagna Parmesan. Contrary to popular belief, not all lasagnas have a meat layer in them, this is one of them. Just layers of lightly battered fried eggplant, ricotta cheese mix, and tomato sauce." Tom broke a small piece off with a fork and brought it to the other man's mouth.
Chakotay's lips dutifully parted and he allowed Tom to slip the tidbit inside.
As the flavors washed over his taste buds, Chakotay closed his eyes and groaned.
"Good, huh?" Tom smiled.
Chakotay nodded as he chewed and swallowed.
Again, Tom received a nod for an answer, and continued to feed Chakotay until the appetizer was gone.
"Now, have some wine and a bit of bread, this will cleanse your palate so your senses don't become confused."
As Chakotay followed Tom's instructions, Tom cleared away the remains of the first treat.
He came back to the table with another plate, on which sat what Chakotay would describe as a green pinecone. Yet the smell of garlic, parsley and mint washed over him, causing him to reassess his first thought of; "I'm not eating a damn pinecone."
"This is a Roman Artichoke. You peel off the leaves and scrape the meat from the bottom end with your teeth, like this." Tom peeled off a leaf, brought it to his mouth, lightly bit down and pulled the green morsel outward. He turned the leaf over to show Chakotay the results.
"Your turn," Tom smiled as he peeled another leaf and offered it to Chakotay.
Mirroring Tom's actions, Chakotay had his first taste.
"It might interest you to know that in the 16th century on Earth, eating an artichoke was reserved only for men. Women were denied the pleasure because the artichoke was considered an aphrodisiac and was thought to enhance sexual power." Tom blinked at Chakotay innocently - *too* innocently - and Chakotay found himself thoroughly charmed.
They shared the artichoke until they all that was left was thin purple and white prickly pieces.
"Now, this doesn't get eaten, we scrape it away and what's left is my favorite part; the heart."
Tom removed the unwanted section of the artichoke with a fork then cut what was left in half. He speared a piece and offered to Chakotay.
Chakotay ate it with relish and a smile.
"One more item on the menu, Chakotay, dessert. I'd like you to, again, cleanse your palate with the wine and bread. I'll be a minute or two, it's not something that can be made too far in advance. Sit back and relax."
Chakotay again did as he was instructed, savoring the wine and bread. He was truly impressed with Tom's plans for the evening. Their relationship, as new as it was, seemed to be quite intense. However, tonight was far different; easy, fun, affectionate.
Tom returned a few minutes later with the dessert.
"This is cannoli," Tom said as he placed the dish on the table. "It's called the 'classic Sicilian dessert'. The filling is actually the same cheese that was in the Eggplant Lasagna. But they don't taste anything alike."
Tom sliced his finger through the end of the pastry, scooping some of the cream out. He brought it to his own mouth and sucked the digit slightly. He moaned as the cream bathed his tongue.
He scooped more of the tasty treat out and slid his finger over Chakotay's lips, smearing the cream as he did.
Chakotay grabbed Tom's wrist before he could pull it away. He licked off what was still there, then did the same to what was on his mouth, still holding Tom's finger inside.
Tom sucked in a breath, closed his eyes then let out a sigh.
Chakotay released Tom's wrist, picked up the cannoli and held it up for Tom to take a bite.
Tom's tongue snaked out, licking more of the cream out, and then he bit into the pastry shell. He smiled around the bite, as Chakotay ate the rest.
Dessert was finished, and Tom turned to clean up. Chakotay stopped him with a touch on his forearm. He leaned in, and lapped at Tom's lips, removing all traces of cannoli.
"Leave the clean up for later, Tom. I do believe the artichoke are living up to their legend," Chakotay smiled. "Or your gentle seduction." He wrapped his arms around Tom and kissed him.
"Mmm. Okay," Tom whispered round the kiss.
Chakotay led Tom into the bedroom, calling for the lights to dim as he went.
"Tomorrow, my turn. I'd like to introduce you to some traditional food from Dorvan," Chakotay informed Tom as he stripped him.