I will be honest: I am not such a fan of Valentine's Day. I'm not, in fact, much of a fan of any of the, shall we say, exclusionary holidays. Mother's Day and Father's Day come to mind. Like Valentine's Day they seemed designed to make plenty of people feel bad. The other reason I'm not so into it is that it just brings out all the tired old uncreative notions of "romance" which I've never found particularly romantic. The very formula of the fancy dinner or the roses or the heart-shaped box of candy rather robs the gesture of meaning for me, but I'm funny like that and, I will admit, think these things through entirely too much.
But I'm not here to ruin your fun. I'm here to help. Have you all seen the 'box of chocolates' from Charles Chocolates? They couldn't be cuter. Seriously. They couldn't. The box is made of chocolate. You can eat the box. The top is made of white chocolate painted with hearts. Even my heart melts a bit at that. Whether you need a gift for someone or a way to drown your sorrows while watching Pride & Prejudice or whatever your mood-enhancing BBC mini-series of choice is, this could be your ticket.
Speaking of drowning sorrows and/or celebrating in style. If you're in need of bubbles get yourself over to D&M Liquor on Filmore. They have a fabulous, awesome, can't-lose selection of champagnes and other bubblies.
If you're staying in for a romantic dinner I have some very serious advice. I'm about to get extremely bossy, but it's for your own good.
1. Keep it simple.
A harried cook isn't sexy. Full stop. Choose easy dishes that won't leave you ragged by the time dinner is served. Try a Roast Chicken, Steamed Mussels, or Cracked Crab (buy them cooked and cracked, melt some butter, and call it dinner!). A broiled chop or two works well for the more serious carnivores.
2. Keep it light.
There ain't nothing sexy about needing to loosen your belt after dinner. Start with oysters or a salad (see these lovely winter salads for ideas). And to keep everyone lively and energetic (if you know what I mean, wink wink nudge nudge) use vegetables, rather than starches to complete the meal. Here are some of my favs that are delightful and seasonal even in these depths of February:
- Braised Endive
- Caraway-Scented Red Cabbage
- Greens With Mustard Seeds
- Lemon Herb Orzo
- Sauteed Baby Artichokes
Under normal circumstances I would never say something like that, but for the sake of romance, I insist.
4. Follow numbers 1 and 2…even when it comes to dessert.
A big gooey dessert may get your heart racing, but only briefly. Try a light and simple dessert augmented with a few pieces of fine chocolate and notice how awake and vivified you feel at meal's end. I love love love this Buttermilk Panna Cotta or a bracing and energizing Grapefruit Sorbet.
Recipe Wizard: localfoods.about.com
Radio Girl: eatthatradio.wordpress.com
*Image credits: Champagne from Mik's; Roast Chicken from girlzone41; Mussels courtesy of manray3; Endive from forgingtorrie; and Sorbet from gnuf.