“Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.”
― M.F.K. Fisher
I have always loved any holiday. I have vivd memories as a child of my mother creating a festive wonderland in our home in honor of any and every holiday, and Valentine’s was no exception. Flower arrangements, cupids and hearts were found in the most unexpected areas of our home, and when discovered, were always met with that joy you can feel tingle in your body.
But it was never the gifts that made me adore holidays, it was the beauty in the decorations or the extra love poured into the food which made it special. Now as an adult, a wife and a mother, expressing my appreciation and adoration for my own family has become a source of great joy.
As a new parent, I have a deeper respect for a day that is dedicated to showing your partner how much you love them. It’s hard to find the time, it’s hard to find the words or the energy, but Valentine’s Day is the nudge we sometimes need to slow down and appreciate one another. And what better way than to cook a sensuous meal?
This year I am so excited to share the food I will lovingly prepare. I have chosen these dishes because they are easy to make, but pack a huge sensory punch, and as we know, eating is a multi sense experience. I wanted to serve dishes that dazzle, that excite all of the senses. I have chosen a theme for this menu — wine, well because, WINE! I have also asked a dear childhood friend, and expert in wine (she is available for private consults for custom menu pairings; her info will be available at the bottom of this post) to select wines to pair with this menu. We will also post an in depth analysis of her selections in a follow-up post next week.
An oh so easy and classic dish. Steamed mussels with white wine, shallot, olive oil and fresh thyme. I love that it’s light, and I get my protein in at the start of my meal. It takes the edge off (if you’re starving) and the sauce is great for dipping baugette.
I don’t really measure, ever. In part because I am lazy, but also because I feel that cooking is art, and artists don’t measure they just FEEL. Also, the lazy thing.
1/2 – 1 lbs PEI Mussels, White Wine, Olive Oil, Crushed Garlic, Thinly Sliced Shallots, a Few Fresh Sprigs of Thyme
Wash the mussles. In a small pot or sautee dish add oil over medium heat. Lightly sautee garlic and shallots. Add desired amount of wine, and bring to a simmer along with thyme. Add mussels and cover, shake pan a few times. Cook for 3-5 minutes. Serve while hot in a bowl along with bread. If you wish to make this a heartier starter course, I suggest adding a small cheese plate.
Trust me, this is a show stopper! The color, the small kick of spice, and the salty, richness from the anchovies are spectacular. A quick note on anchovies. Americans seem to have a fear of them, and believe me there is no need. As with most things, you must invest in quality. I suggest visiting St. Killians Cheese Shop on 32nd Street of Denver, they carry my trusted brand: Ortiz.
Drunken Pasta with Chili Anchovy Sauce
Red Wine of your choice, medium handful of Spaghetti (remember, you are only cooking for two), Olive Oil, Minced Garlic, Desired amount of Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, 1-2 Anchovy Fillet finely diced.
Fill pot with with equal parts red wine and water (to be honest, I use a bit more wine than water). Bring to a boil and cook spaghetti to al dente. Drain and return to pot.
While spaghetti boils, add olive oil, to a medium sautee pan over medium heat. Sautee garlic, and red pepper flakes. Add anchovy fillets last. Satuee for only a few minutes. Pour over cooked pasta and toss. Plate while hot, and garnish with parsley.
Strawberries with a Red Wine and Chocolate Sauce. No need to say more.
Ingredients (this I do measure out)
2 1/4 cups red wine (I suggest Pinot Noir)
6 ounces dark chocolate
3 tablespoons coconut sugar
Heat wine and reduce for about 5 minutes and then mix in the coconut sugar and chocolate, stirring constantly. Pour into a bowl and serve with fresh strawberries.
Michel Picard, Vouvray France, Chenin Blanc, 2014 (14.99)
Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc, Marlbrough New Zealand, 2015 (21.99)
Z D Chardonnay, California, 2014 (37.99)
Domaine de Cause, Cahors France, Malbec 2011 (14.99)
Vietti, Langhe Nebbiolo prebacco, Piedmont Italy, 2012 (24.99)
Jordan, Alexander Valley, Sonoma county California, Cabernet Sauvignoin 2011 (56.99)
Pairings Provided by:
Regional Sales Manager for Birdrock Imports
Owner of The Wine Cat LLC
Studied Wine at The International Wine Guild
Wine and food lover.