Unlike the two previous holidays—New Year’s and Christmas—Valentine’s Day has a much more light-hearted approach to celebration, more delight, less expectation or custom and tradition to define the day; in essence, more whimsy and spontaneity. It is, after all, about love and romance, which is about as personal as any holiday gets. So just how the day unfolds depends upon how you orchestrate it.
Dinner out? Dinner in? Cooking or take-out? Entertaining or entertained? The Golden Rule of executing any successful soirée is first knowing what you want—a glitzy venue with a multi-course menu requires different arrangements than a low-key dinner at home, for example. Whatever you choose to do, remember that you don’t need a big budget, just an idea, and a bit of imagination and ingenuity. Most of all, it’s about making the evening special—and fun—for you and your sweetheart. Don’t expect perfection, because he’s not even going to notice if the Crème Brûlée has a lump or two. He will be noticing You.
In fact, if you take your dressing inspiration from the sketch above, you could serve him cheese and crackers and he’d be thrilled. Tip #1: Copy this elegant combination: black dress, sleek hair, high heels, statement earrings, and red lip—it works every time. Modern in its simplicity, the ensemble is eternally chic and sophisticated. A timeless and iconic look for this most romantic of evenings. Tip #2: Once you know you look great, forget about yourself and focus on your partner, and enjoy a romantic evening. There is nothing less appealing than a girl who is constantly primping and priming, and can’t laugh in case her make-up cracks.
If Valentine’s Day has sneaked up on you while you were busy, you’ll need to be clever to pull off a romantic glam affair tonight. But you can; I’ll help. Stay calm; you can. No, we are not calling desperately to make a reservation, it’s much too late for that. Just keep reading on to Tip #3: Nothing says celebration like a bubbly glass of Rosé. It is delicious, fun to drink, matches the rouge colour scheme of the day, and contrasts nicely with your black gown. Here are a few top picks from the VanMag Wine Awards.
While you are sipping, you need to also be nibbling. Tip #4: Virtually everything tastes better with Rosé, but bubbles love cheese. Rich, creamy cheeses (Triple crèmes) are particularly perfect, as is Gruyère—really you can’t go far wrong with what you have in the fridge if you eat well and French.
Mark Bittman, food writer and columnist for The New York Times, calls steak, “Nature’s fast food”. Tip #5:There is little else as tasty or satisfying as a juicy rib-eye. You can use another cut if you like, but just buy it from a real butcher. It should come in brown meat paper not on a Styrofoam tray wrapped in plastic. Here’s how to cook it (recipe). Serve with Blue Butter (recipe). Keep the sides simple: duck-fried potatoes, green beans, and a salad round out the meal and are quick and easy to prepare. And you probably have all the ingredients on hand, even the duck fat if you know a thing or two about taste.
Tip #6: Select your wines with care. The right match really is made in heaven. A rich, brooding Californian Cab by Liberty School is a smooth operator rich with flavour and sublime with steak.
Wine Tasting Notes
Ruby black in colour, the 2013 Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon displays classic Cabernet aromas of black currant, crushed blackberry and cherry, with undertones of charred sandalwood, black peppercorn, eucalyptus and a dash of cinnamon. On the palate, dark berries, cherry and a hint of toasted oak unfold as the velvety tannins and balancing acidity lead to a long, fruit driven finish.
The grand finale of this Valentine’s Day feast is desert.Crème Brûlée is a winner if there is sufficient cooking and chilling time; if not Salted Caramel Ice-Cream and a bar of really good chocolate is the culinary equivalent of the fat lady singing. Bravo! Tip #7: Presentation is everything so use your best bowls and break up the chocolate and serve on a lovely plate. A cup of espresso would put this all over the top.
Post Ilustration: Garance Doré | Rouge Louboutin