Why dine out when you can revel in the privacy and intimacy of a home-cooked dinner for two? We’ve crafted a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner for two with dishes that are a non-fussy, yet elegant, with sumptuous aromas and textures certain to go straight to the heart of your special paramour.
Note: This menu is featured in our Gilded Fork: Entertaining at Home cookbook.
Foie Gras Mousse with Fig Syrup served on Crisped Toasts
Suggested wine pairings: Brut Champagne or German Riesling (see note below)
Pear and Prosciutto Salad with Toasted Walnuts
Continue with wine from hors d’oeuvres
Poussins en demi-deuil (Hens in Half-Mourning)
Suggested wine pairing: Pinot Noir (French Burgundy or California)
Poached Pears with Chocolate Raspberry Sauce
Suggested wine pairing: Vinsanto (fortified Italian dessert wine) or Sauternes
A NOTE ON WINE PAIRINGS
One of the challenges in suggesting wine pairings is that we may have the perfect wine to match a particular recipe, but your local wine merchant may not. As a result, we are pairing this month’s recipes based on varietal (Riesling, Pinot Noir, etc.), so you at least have a guideline.
Our enthusiastic recommendation is for you to simply take a copy of the menu to the wine store, show them what you’re serving, and ask for recommendations based on a price range. We rely on this method regularly, as our wine merchants make it their livelihood to continually taste wine and expand their knowledge base, so we make good use of their expertise. If you are in a rural area and/or do not have a local wine merchant, these suggestions should at least help you to choose a wine in your supermarket or other local store.
If you think three bottles of wine may be too much for two people, and would rather choose one or two bottles, keep in mind that you could serve Champagne or sparkling wine for all except the dessert course. You will want a dry champagne, such as a Brut (see our Champagne dossier for more information on the varied levels of sweetness).
It is also not absolutely necessary to serve a dessert wine if you are not partial to sweet wines. You can simply serve dessert, then move on to coffee afterward. (We recommend that you resist the American urge to serve coffee with dessert, as it can interfere with the flavors of your sweet finish.)
MISE EN PLACE
For those curious about the meaning of mise en place, it is a French culinary term for “set in place.” If you have ever watched a cooking show, or been inside a restaurant kitchen, you will notice that next to the cooking area, things are set up just so. Ingredients, sauces and critical elements are ready to be used, whether pre-cooked, pre-chopped, or ready as a garnish. This kind of organized setup enables a cook to focus on the actual act of cooking itself without distraction. Our intention with this section is to use the same approach at home, enabling you to host your own special occasions with flair.
Photo: C.C. Chapman