Monday, February 1, 2016

Cancel Those Valentine's Dinner Reservations!

     Valentine's Day is two weeks away.  If you took advantage of last week's post, you are on your way to knitting or crocheting a lovely surprise for someone you love.  Now it's time to get plans established.  Lots of people are rushing around making reservations at favorite restaurants.  Personally, I am here to recommend a fabulous Stay-At-Home Valentine's Date.

     Why would you want to stay home with your sweetheart this Valentine's Day?  Let me count the ways.  First, you will find that eating out can be a stressful experience on certain holidays, this being one of them.  Everyone decides to eat out and you end up sitting in a crowded restaurant with waiters and waitresses that are being run ragged for the evening.  Secondly, being alone together can make for a more romantic evening.  And finally, for any guys out there reading this post, this is your chance to really impress your favorite girl and show her that you can be romantic all by your lonesome self without the help of a waiter or waitress.

     It's easy to see all of the great reasons to stay home for your Valentine's date, but the more practical question is 'How am I going to pull this off?'  Lucky for you, that's actually the easy part.  And I'm right here to help you get everything planned out.  This week I'm going to give you some fantastic ideas for planning your perfect Valentine's meal.  Next week we can talk about creating the perfect setting for the evening at home.

     The best all inclusive Valentine dinner deal that I have managed to find comes from The Fresh Market.  If you are lucky enough to have one in your town, then dinner is going to be super easy.  This year's deal is Filet Mignon or Lobster Tail.  Doesn't that sound wonderful?  You can check out the Valentine's Day Dinner for Two and place your order online, or you can go to your local store.  The deal costs $49.99 and includes your choice of either Filet Mignon or a Lobster Tail for each of you, plus 1 lb of whipped potatoes, 1 bunch of fresh asparagus tips, a dozen chocolate dipped strawberries, and a dozen roses.  My husband and I have purchased this package at Fresh Market two different times and we were delighted both times.  The employees at Fresh Market were happy to provide us with detailed cooking instructions and dinner was extremely easy to prepare.  You can make arrangements to pick your meal up the day before you plan to prepare it and there will be no need to leave the house at all on Valentine's Day.  We did this and found everything to be fresh and delicious.  If you don't live by a Fresh Market grocery store, see if the meat department in your local store offers some pre-made dishes that are quick and easy to prepare.

     Although cooking an elaborate meal is always an option, it does take time and attention away from gazing into your sweetheart's eyes.  This is why you will find that the suggestions I am making don't involve an entire day (or night) in the kitchen.  With that in mind, my other meal suggestion is a more versatile option that involves little or no cooking at all.  How about a romantic indoor wine, cheese, and charcuterie picnic?  This is an easy option and can be as simple or elegant as you choose to make it.  My husband and I have been making date night meals like this for years and they have never failed us.  Think finger food!  You probably have a grocery store in your area that offers a selection of cheeses, olives, breads, meats, fruits, vegetables, and wines that can be turned into a beautiful meal to nibble on a blanket in front of the fireplace - or wherever else seems like a lovely romantic setting to you.

     If you can use a kitchen knife, you can make a beautiful meal that's guaranteed to impress your sweetheart.  The nicer local grocers may have a gourmet cheese section and possibly even an olive bar.  This is a wonderful place to begin your meal.  A cheese specialist should be able to help you with some ideas if you are unsure where to go with things.  The cheese specialist is generally very knowledgeable with flavor profiles and pairings and may even present some options that you might not have considered.  From there, you can choose the meats, fruits and vegetables to complete your plate.  Actually serving this meal can be done many different ways.  Arranged on a wooden cutting board is the latest fashion, but any type of platter can make a beautiful display.  And finally, don't forget a trip to the bakery.  You will want a nice artisan bread to go with your platter, along with an appealing dessert.  One of the great things about this type of meal is the beverage options are nearly limitless.  You are guaranteed to find a wine, beer, or cocktail to suit your tastes and match up with your platter.

     In case these ideas haven't sparked your imagination, take a moment to poke around online to see if the right stay at home meal might be waiting for you to find.  Perhaps homemade fondue will be your inspiration.  Or maybe a good old fashioned weenie roast in the fireplace with s'mores for dessert is more your cup of tea?  Just don't forget to cancel that stuffy restaurant reservation and get to work planning your amazing Valentine's date.  I'll be here next week with more ideas on how to make the night extra special.

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