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FRESH and Festive: The Spirit of Valentine’s Day

February 14—Valentine’s Day—some people look at it with quiet anticipation…kind of like a grown-ups’ Christmas…others look at it as nothing more than an imaginary day dreamed up by card companies.  Regardless of where you fall between those two lines of thought, most people would say it is the spirit of the day—the meaning of it—that is more important than the means by which it is expressed.

Whether it is said with champagne and chocolate dipped strawberries, a hand-written note, a flashy arrangement of exotic tropical blooms or a simple bouquet of hand-picked flowers, it isn’t the actual gift that is so important…it’s the heart that the giving comes from. It’s communicating the thought: “You are important to me and I am glad you are a part of my life.”

It’s a little easier to see now that I am older, but for the past few years I’ve tried to live by my own saying of “Don’t put off until tomorrow something you could have said today.”  Life has a way of throwing some pretty impactful things our way, and one of the greatest tragedies I can think of would be to find yourself in a situation of finding out you’ll never see someone again and you realize you never took the time to let them know how much they meant to you.

Your way of doing that may be going out to a fancy dinner.  It may be staying home listening to music, or walking along the beach.  Whatever the expression may be isn’t the important thing.  The important thing is to express it, in whatever form that takes.

Wouldn’t it be great as the years have rolled on and you find yourself looking at pictures of days and years gone by, that when you turn past the last page of that photo album you can lean back on the sofa and say , “I didn’t just say I love you…I lived it.”

To me, in many ways, food means love.  Feeding someone is very nurturing, and cooking for someone is one of the ways we can show that person that we love them, every single day. So a romantic meal, whether you cook it yourself or just make the reservations, is one of the most personal things you can do for your sweetheart.

If you’re planning a special day with your special person, I recommend you stick to what you know works and that you know you do well.  There’s nothing worse than planning a perfect dinner only to have your soufflé flop or find out your Newburg turned into an iceberg.  If you just have to do something new and exciting, at least give it a run-through first, so you are familiar with the recipe and the way it goes together.

Valentine’s meals are extra-special when you prepare foods that can be shared – one large shrimp cocktail rather than two small ones, or a platter of sushi to nibble on together. Just pick what you both love. For dessert, I always suggest something light and airy – mousse, flan, crepes—a little flash never hurts.  A great way to begin—or end—your perfect evening is with a glass of Prosecco touched with a splash of Chambord.  Garnish with two or three raspberries and you are off to a great start.

But again, it’s the thought that counts – and expressing that thought. Happy Valentine’s Day.