VALENTINE'S DAY is all about the romance. Chocolates, red wine, lace. . . That said, I've found the best way to my man's heart is through his stomach. Seduction occurs in our kitchen, lingers over a naughtily good meal, finished with - okay, I admit - chocolate, red wine and lace.
Some of the very worst dinners we've had out have been on Valentine's Day. Restaurants are so overwhelmed on this night, that service is always poor; waits occur, even with reservations; and the food, we found, is not up to the usual quality.
A romantic dinner at home need not be a hassle. Toss together a salad, grill some steaks, and indulge in a store-bought chocolate confection. What counts is that you spend time - quality time - with the one you love.
One Valentine, my folks dropped by at the last minute, so for our romantic dinner we had four adults and three cranky kids, who had been deprived of their naps so they'd go to bed early. At least I was able to light the candles.
SUGGESTED MENU A short tour of the state, or grocery store, can net you some very fine, celebratory foods for a really special dinner for two.
- Sunburst Trout, at the base of Cold Mountain, near Candor, NC, produces excellent caviar that is being used in finer restaurants across the country. Even Jacques Pepin loved it.
- I still have a few beets in cold storage from Raleigh's Farmers Market. We've got a stash of fresh pecans in the freezer from my sister and her husband's farm in Bailey.
- And now's the time when goats are having their kids, so local, fresh chevre is not generally available. But you can still find logs at your local cheese counters.
- Recipes for starred items (*) can be found in THE OUTER BANKS COOKBOOK.
Sunburst Trout Caviar, Chevre & Toast Points
Salad of Roasted Red Beets, Toasted Pecans*, and Chevre
Wasabi-Mine Valentine Tuna Steaks*
medley of roasted red & yellow peppers with fingerling potatoes
Chocolate Pecan Pie*