Valentine's Day is a big affair at our house. A good kind of big affair. An affair that has lots of traditions. Traditions that have developed over the last seven years of Valentine's Days.
In our early years, our Valentine's tradition was born out of necessity. With a birthday just four days before Valentine's Day and a budget that would not accommodate eating out twice in one week, we decided our best option was to eat in for Valentine's Day and eat out for my birthday. Today the eating in tradition continues with a home cooked candlelit dinner for my Valentine and I to enjoy. Although our finances could now handle the indulgence of a meal out, we'd rather enjoy this one at home.
After seven years of fun meals, I've even collected a special set of dishes, candles, table linens, and other decorations that I pull out just for special evenings like this one. Besides decoration, there are a few other traditions we enjoy:
1. The meal is always different. No repeat dinners here.
2. The meal always includes something I've never made before. Usually several things I've never made before.
3. A minimum of three courses is required.
4. We both dress up for the affair.
5. I always get a hand written note from my Valentine. I really love this part!
This year we enjoyed these humongous rosemary crusted grilled steaks with grilled lobster. I've never prepared lobster before and it was both delicious and fun as well as impressive looking on the table.
The rest of the main course included roasted asparagus, homemade rolls, and a very delicious spinach, bacon and Gruyere cheese potato gratin.
Joe took lots of pictures of the main course, but neglected to take pictures of our appetizer: salmon cakes with cool lime sauce; and soup: fresh tomato basil soup with Parmesan crusted crostini. Both were firsts and very delicious.
Dessert was a funny affair this year as I had sworn off dessert, with the exception of my birthday, for the month of February. Instead of a decadent dessert we enjoyed these very simple and sugar-free desserts of strawberries, chocolate pudding, and jell-o topped with freshly whipped cream, sweetened with splenda. I discovered that if you pile the whipped cream up high enough, they seem fancy, even if they are jell-o and pudding.
There's always way too much food and as a consequence we can never finish dessert.
The kids were not disappointed the next day to see us break out leftover dessert after dinner.
They had been drooling and begging for dessert the previous day, so there were smiles all around as they devoured the leftovers.
I think they also liked eating out of our wine goblets. Eating ordinary desserts out of wine goblets just makes them taste better, doesn't it?
Our Valentine's celebrations have a few other added benefits that have developed over the years as the kids have come along. Joe primarily cares for the kids on the day of the feast so I can get our dinner made. This arrangement has many perks for me:
1. I get a pretty good break from kid care for a day.
2. I get to spend a day pursuing something I very much enjoy: cooking and trying new foods.
3. The day ends in a quiet, special evening with my husband over some great food, all in the comfort of my own home.
Valentine's Day Number 7: big thumbs up. I like you, Valentine. Thanks for dining at my bistro.