- By Chad Carns, The Gourmet Bachelor Cookbook & Wine Guide
I’ve hosted hundreds of amazing dinner parties in my Greenwich Village apartment while crafting The Gourmet Bachelor cookbook & wine guide. A few overcooked lamb chops, over-seasoned veggies and one grease fire later, I discovered five tips to help make your Valentine’s Day dinner at home a success.
One of my earliest memories is of my grandmother Lancainese’s Sunday dinner. I remember munching on salumi, veggies, cheese and olives while she was making Sunday sauce. I’m sure grandma wanted to fill our bellies with tasty snacks but I now know the real reason behind the table of antipasti: To get us out of the kitchen!
So remember to have two or three light snacks ready when your date arrives. This way, if you start to burn the chicken, set off the smoke detector and spill hot oil on the floor, your date will be perfectly happy in the other room with her snacks and champagne. Which brings me to my second tip…
Nothing says “tonight is a special evening” more than a glass of champagne. You can even select a $10 bottle of Prosecco. It just needs to be served cold, produce bubbles and POP when opened!
Offer to open a bottle of Champagne after your date begins to snack on the starters. Enjoy one glass of champagne together and then go back to the kitchen to finish your master piece!
3. It’s all about your Date!
The evening should appear effortless. No stress. Even if you invested 70 hours preparing this gourmet feast, your date should feel totally relaxed and pampered. If she looks at you with trepidation and asks for the fourth time, “please, what can I do to help?”, you might want to go back to tip #2 and start over.
“The evening should appear effortless.”
Valentine’s Day isn’t the night to experiment. I’ve tested some of the recipes in The Gourmet Bachelor cookbook 100 times, but medium-heat on a small NYC stove is not the same temperature as medium-heat on a professional range. Heavy skillets conduct more heat than others and the difference between the perfect sear and your dog’s charred chicken dinner could be two or three minutes. So, test your favorite recipe at least once before you prepare it for your date.
5. Keep it Simple
You might be tempted to go over-the-top with exotic ingredients and multiple dishes that require fancy French cooking techniques. Remember, tonight is about you and your date. Pick a simple recipe with just a few, everyday ingredients. This way, you pay attention to your date’s empty glass of champagne instead of your charred chicken breast.
5 Tips to Keep Valentine’s Day Simple, Fresh and Stress-free
- Reply by Stephen Harvey, Feb 14, 2011.
I don't celebrate Valentines day, my wedding anniversary is 6 days later and far more important than some random commercial event better known for a Mafia massacre in the 20's.
- Reply by The Gourmet Bachelor, Feb 14, 2011.
- Reply by Stephen Harvey, Feb 15, 2011.
Not a crack at you just my frustration at so many stupid commercialised celebrations.
I also take a very low key to Fathers day and tell my kids it is not a big deal to me.
My wife has a different view on Mothers day - such is life!
- Reply by dmcker, Feb 15, 2011.
You should try Valentine's Day in Japan. Totally commercially crafted by chocolate manufacturers starting three or so decades ago. Women/girls are supposed to give chocolate to men/boys. Then, however many days later, there's 'White Day' whereby the males give something back to the females--this started a decade or so after Valentine's Day began taking off for the Japanese chocolate purveyors, and people were looking for a way to extend the advantage.
Perhaps needless to say, I got some raised eyebrows when I presented chocolate, flowers, champers to a female fancy back when....
Then there's the 'Christmas Cake' custom where on 12/24 everyone's supposed to take home a cake to the family. The pastry industry manufactured that one some time after WWII. So ingrained that it took several takes for otherwise savvy Japanese to understand when I told them this had nothing really to do with Christmas, per se (far more ritualistically structured than a bouche de noel custom). Even now, after so much social change, there's still use of a pejorative description of females who wind into their 30s without getting married as 'leftover Christmas Cakes' that went unsold on the 24th.
So of course Christmas, Valentine's Day, Halloween, Mother's Day, etc. are opportunistically exploited. Interesting, however, to observe, as an anthropologist, behaviors that then evolve around this exploitation....
- Reply by Stephen Harvey, Feb 16, 2011.
D - You Americans are masters of creating "special" [read retail] days.
Maybe we should have Global Wine Day - where everyone buys a bottle of wine for their favourite drinking partner to share. The level of mutual reciprocation would be interesting