How to host the perfect evening this Valentine’s day
This will be the first year in over a decade I won’t be working in a restaurant this Valentine’s day. For hospitality professionals it’s the most dreaded day in the calendar for so many reasons – it’s the first busy day of the year, restaurant owners cram in as many tables of two as possible. Some have several sittings where floor staff desperately try to turn tables for underwhelmed diners.
Over the years I’ve seen it all: proposals, arguments, break ups, first dates, vomit, punch ups and lots of couples awkwardly staring at their phones. The strangest part of all this is I actually sort of miss it. With the big day looming and restaurants staying closed, here’s what I propose.
Stay away from supermarket meal deals
Overpriced, processed heart shaped food washed down with some ‘trendy’ pink prosecco that cost them £2 to source – supermarkets have been thriving during lockdown, and there’s plenty of independent businesses that need your support that are offering much more exciting things.
Be on top of your game
It’s great to be ambitious in the kitchen but Valentine’s isn’t the night to experiment. You need something delicious you can execute effortlessly with minimum mess and maximum impact. Don’t make your midweek February lockdown more stressful than it needs to be.
This isn’t the night to finally try mastering a beef wellington or soufflé. Also, try not to overdo it with pretentious-sounding French food. Keep it fun and relaxed.
Plan to stay awake
A lot of people go for steak and a full-bodied bottle of wine, which I guess is tasty and easy to prepare – but not great if you want to stay awake past 9pm. To make life easy I’ve put together a Valentines hamper of everything you’ll need for a fun night in. Let’s focus on the booze (the best bit).
To start, a sparkling wine you might have overlooked. It has all the finesse and complexity of Champagne but is much more interesting and unusual. It’s a sparkling wine from Piedmont in North West Italy made from Nebbiolo grapes. The producer Ettore Germano is a legendary producer of Barolo wine.
For your main a rich tomato based pasta with far too much parmesan grated over the top, which means a red Italian wine pairing.
I’ve chosen Giuliana Vicini, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. The grape is Montepulciano, the place is the region of Abruzzo on the east (Adriatic) coast of Italy. The wine is made by Chiara, the name of the wine is made in honour of her great aunt Giuliana Vicini, who wasn’t allowed to inherit the vineyard as she was female and her parents forbid it.
The tart red fruits, cherries, plums and raspberries compliment the tomato sauce perfectly. The wine has soft tannins, it’s well balanced and an absolute treat to drink.
Here’s the Valentines offering I’ve put together at Bottles ‘n’ Jars. We’re delivering nationwide or if you prefer you can pop into our Highgate shop.