Five years ago yesterday, I was on my way home from my fifth date with Will. We had gone to see a free movie screened at a local college, and I kissed him for the first time on top of a parking garage (I know, I am great at romance). During the drive I asked him when he wanted to get together next:
Will: “How about Friday?”
Me: “…..Isn’t that Valentine’s day?”
Will: “Yeah. Who else would I spend it with?”
I’ve never had any particular affinity with this weird Hallmark holiday, but I assumed anyone on their fifth date would be wary of spending a sixth on a high pressure holiday in a forced romantic environment with someone they weren’t sure about yet. But I was wrong. Thankfully, we both had the same vision for a great Valentine’s Day: dinner at home. We could be exactly as romantic (or awkward) as we wanted to be, and not have some terrible and expensive prix fixe meal.
And thus, our first Valentine’s Day together was also the first time I cooked Will dinner. We’ve done something similar every year since. No cards, jewelry, or boxes of chocolate. Just an excuse to enjoy a great dinner at home and each other’s company.
This is the menu I made for that Valentine’s Day. Just to be clear, I don’t make crackers for our date nights regularly (I guess I was just feeling extra that first time). That first year I tasked Will with bringing a bottle of white wine and dessert. I don’t repeat the same menu every year, but I usually make something a little special or different. One year it was steak frites, and this year I’m going to make either these cumin lamb chops of Korean-style fire chicken. Let’s reclaim Valentine’s Day as an excuse to have a great date night in. And if it doesn’t work for you to celebrate this week, there are 51 others in a year so take your pick!
- Crackers with goat cheese and tomato jam
- Grapefruit and gin cocktails (I leave out the Aperol)
- Chicken Piccata and rice pilaf (both from I’m Just Here for the Food by Alton Brown)
- Kale salad (there is some debate over this and I can’t remember what I made, but Will’s insists I made a kale salad….which would be very like me)
- Chateau Ste. Michelle Dry Riesling
- 1 slice of chocolate cake and a chocolate bar (both purchased from Wegmans)
- Rock Art Russian Imperial Stout (we still have the bottle from this, which is pictured at the top)