As I’ve written, after the events of this New Year’s Eve, I’m through relying on the professionals for holiday festivities. Nope, the true professionals have the evening off and are celebrating themselves leaving you with the second string.
But that doesn’t mean that mean Mrs. E. and I won’t be celebrating Valentine’s Day. It just means that we’ll be doing the cooking, serving and cleaning. So I’m going easy on us. I suggest for those of you staying in that you do the same….
Since we’ll be staying in and “making” dinner, we’ll be comfortable. If you’re planning the same kind of night and don’t feel like getting dressed for dinner, now is the time to break out the cashmere sweater and flannel trousers (or moleskin … anything that feels soft and wonderful against the skin.)
Let’s see, something special for dinner? Well, not going out and having that second bottle of Champagne with dinner, cabbing back and paying off the babysitter means that we’ve got an extra $200 to spend. While real caviar is a bit too expensive for my wallet these days, there are some pretty good deals on substitutes: we’ll have paddlefish roe. And we’ll probably eat it by the spoonful — pure decadence. Champagne isn’t really the best bet to drink with roe (unless it is a blancs de blancs.) A shot of ice cold vodka is traditional. The lemon flavored ones would pair nicely. A bone-dry martini, up with a twist, is pure heaven.
Don’t like roe? Opt for a bit of sushi or sashimi picked up from the grocery. Or buy a couple of oysters, throw them on the grill until they open and squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over them.
Next I’ll make some little artichokes that I found at the store — cutting them in half and sautéing them in olive oil, garlic, oregano and sea salt, sprinkling them with a little fresh parmesan. You may want to substitute something like an arugula salad, dressed with salt, pepper, olive oil and shaved fresh parmesan cheese.
Then we may have a lobster bisque or cream of she crab soup. Both are made fresh by my fish monger. The bubbles will do fine here. And we’ll follow it up with a fresh fillet of fish, broiled skin side up (make three slashes in the skin to let the humidity escape) under high heat until the skin is crispy. I’ll season the fish with no more than olive oil, salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon. Maybe a fresh herb if I have one handy. Or I’ll sprinkle dried parsley around the plate to garnish.
Dessert is more sparkling wine and a chocolate truffle.
Polish the silver, light plenty of candles, chill the wine and stay in for the night. Soundtrack by Francis Albert Sinatra and Billie Holliday.
Ain’t love grand?