Saturday, February 16, 2013

Valentine's Day Dinner, 2013

I have always been a sucker for Valentine's Day. The first one I remember was in Kindergarten. My mama gave me the Trouble game, which afterwards we would play and laugh for hours. She made me heart shaped cream cheese and jam sandwiches to take to school. Some of the other children questioned my culinary choice. "It's good!" I defended the cute tiny sandwiches until most of them tried them and agreed. Ever since I have had a soft-spot for heart shaped goodies, Valentine's Day cards, and reminding everybody I love I love them. Single or taken, I have never been a V-Day hater.

I shamefully used to get swooped up in the commercialism of the holiday, but I've become a bit older, and wiser, and thriftier, and as Valentine's Day approached I laid out my thoughts for Dave. I didn't need gifts. Don't go crazy. I just want to make a nice meal in. We can cook at my place for a little privacy, eat, drink, and be merry. Dave could make dessert. (He has been making glorious ice creams lately. A tart key lime was the last batch. Delicious.) I really just wanted to enjoy the man I love.

In general I've been eating a lot healthier, and we started running together. Dave hurt his knee and hasn't been out with me in awhile, but nonetheless, I was pretty excited to indulge with a Valentine's Day feast.

We are a restaurant couple and I had no idea when we would be celebrating until the weekend before. We normally have at least one night off together a week, but Valentine's Day gave us a whole lotta nada to work with. I eventually reasoned that since I was off Thursday, the fourteenth, I could cook while he was at work, and we could celebrate the real night. It would be a late dinner, but you know, YOLO, and that would kind of make it all the more special.

I worked my lunch shift, and left work around 4:30. After a bit of last-minute shopping, I headed home to begin prepping, and making the place feel a bit special. I didn't know exactly what time Dave would be off, but I knew it wouldn't be early. I had butterflies all evening in anticipation. I was excited for a romantic, elegant, dinner for two. I couldn't wait to just be with him, and share all the dishes I had created.

Dave got to my place around 9:30. He cracked open a bottle of bubbly. I had laid out a plate of paper thin slices of finocchiono and coppa, and a couple cheeses, just in case he wanted a tiny nosh. He presented me with his Davis-designed bouquet of broccoli, cauliflower, and radish roses. He also made a smoked banana, banana bread for dessert and breakfast. Then he gave me the Operation-themed pizza box with a beautiful heart-shaped cookie that had me in joyful tears."You have my heart." Simple, honest words. There is nothing like having this wonderful of a person love you completely. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

I gave Dave his gift, a brick-red shirt with a heart made drawn out of bacon slices that says, "You had me at bacon." I had discovered it Christmas shopping, and but wanted to save it for Valentine's Day. I made him a bacon and eggs card that said, "You make my heart sizzle," in the inside. Something only my man would appreciate.

We began our dinner with Kushi oysters and duck liver pate with brandy-soaked cherry chutney. I was so happy with how the pate turned out. I only had one liver to work with, and a little duck scrap, so it was the perfect amount for two people, and it went so well with the cherries.

Our second course was a simple radicchio salad with a garlicky pecorino romano dressing and marinated fennel. I love radicchio salads with creamy dressings. They are so beautiful and full of flavor. Dave isn't super-crazy about fennel, but marinating it softened the flavors a bit, and it is a good match for the bite of the radicchio. I didn't take a picture, but you can imagine.

Course three: Seared sea scallop with roasted cauliflower bacon puree and sauteed spinach. This was inspired by a smoked scallop dish Fratelli used to do with carbonara and spinach. I wanted the smoky flavor without actually smoking the scallop, so I incorporated it into the sauce. Cauliflower puree is always delicious too. Not the prettiest plate, but it was super delicious. 

Course four: Braised bacon with roasted beets, watercress, pickled shallots and horseradish. This was a shared course. It was my favorite of the night. Pretty much perfect, if you ask me. Dave opened a bottle of zinfandel to go with it.

Course five: Lobster truffle risoto with sauce maltese. The cliche valentine dish of the night. Maltese is hollandaise with blood orange juice. The tang of the orange in the sauce went beautifully with the creamy risotto. This dish took awhile to make which was fine since we were pretty satisfied by this point. As much as I tried to keep the risotto portions tiny, this was the course that pushed us over. We took a snuggle break before I commenced cooking the last savory course.

Course six: Seared duck breast with roasted acorn squash and potatoes, calabrian chilies, leeks confit and duck jus. Yum! We shared this plate, but we still could not finish it.We stopped eating around 1:10AM, which means we were going on four hours of cooking, drinking and eating. It was exactly the romantic evening I wanted. It's my first late fancy dinner in this country, and I think we will have to make more in the future. It somehow made it all the more special.

Dessert was in theory the cookie Dave made me. I had a bite, and it was delicious, but I could not do anymore than that, and Dave was definitely done. We were both pretty exhausted and full, and even passed on our dessert bottle of moscato. Luckily the cookie made a pretty tasty breakfast.

I'm so lucky my valentine enjoys food as much as I do. Isn't love great?

1 comment:

Nikki.O said...

NOM! Yolo :)

Sounds like a delightful evening!