Throwing an Intimate Valentine’s Dinner for Two
At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet. At least according to Plato, who lived well over two thousand years ago.
There’s something comforting in knowing that love hasn’t changed so very much, despite the passing of centuries. It remains undimmed and unweathered. Perhaps the one constant.
If you are fortunate enough to love and be loved, this is the holiday to turn your thoughts towards poetry. But it doesn’t have to be an exercise in actual word crafting, if that’s not your talent.
A careful arrangement of flowers, a poached pear swimming in cream and cinnamon syrup, a room flooded in candlelight: each is a little poem all on its own. Your offering is even more lovely because it reflects the contents of your heart.
Staying in for a romantic evening lends itself to all kinds of creativity. So make your own kind of poetry.
Set the Scene
First, decide what the ideal romantic atmosphere is for you. Just because it’s Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean you have to decorate with pink and purple heart-shaped doilies and gold foil cupids. Every holiday is your holiday, and it doesn’t have to be anything but what you decide.
Consider where you two first met or where you had your first date. Or use elements from a trip you took together.
Can any of that be recreated? Perhaps a version of a special restaurant’s signature cake, the music that was playing when you first danced, or what you wore and how you did your hair.
If you’re avid campers, set up the tent in your living room surrounded by candles. Be careful to keep any pets out of the room because tails easily catch fire when a curious furry creature gets too close. (Or, use deep containers like glass vases or mason jars.) A pine bough placed nearby would add a glorious scent of the outdoors while you’re all cozy inside.
Candlelight everywhere, whether you’re campers or not, is always lovely. Have a fireplace? Turn down the thermostat and let the fire roar.
What to Wear
Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you have to look like it. Dress as if you’re going out to your favorite restaurant. If you would normally wear make up, do so. Or, wear what your partner loves the most.
Bring the Best of Yourselves: Plan Ahead
In your efforts to give your Love a beautiful evening, don’t overdo it. Don’t let the frazzle of a five-course meal that needs constant care take away from your date. You’ll want to have calm conversation and not end up napping during dessert.
Choose dishes you can make ahead of time. Dip those strawberries early, make that cake the day before. Buy favorite treats such as foil-wrapped hearts and truffles, and display them in a candy dish.
These Greek Salad Skewers with Anchovy Aioli from Food and Wine Magazine can be made up to four days in advance.
For dessert, why not try a Chocolate Budino with Candied Walnuts?
And here’s a recipe for Cold Roast Salmon with Smashed Green Salad from Epicurious that can be made a day before.
If you prefer your entree warm, have everything else ready and let that be the only element still cooking.
Avocado butter is the perfect accompaniment to grilled fish. It tastes rather wonderful melting over a piece of chicken or even a steak, too.
This recipe for avocado butter is from George and Piret Munger of Piret’s restaurant in Southern California. The restaurant itself is, sadly, long gone and their marvelous cookbook out of print. Their farmhouse French food, served amidst bright copper pots and a black and white checkerboard floor, was a memorable experience.
They served this butter with grilled swordfish steaks marinated in soy sauce, lemon juice and zest, garlic, oil, and dijon mustard. But, like we said, this goes well with any grilled fish.
½ cup butter
½ cup ripe mashed avocado
5 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt, to taste
Whip the butter in a small mixing bowl until it is soft and creamy. Beat in the remaining ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Happy Valentine’s Day!