If you’ve behaved badly during the past year, you might end up in what’s commonly referred to as Valentine’s Day Purgatory. This is whereby you’re seated (promptly at 7:30pm, then kicked out at 9pm for the next truck load) to a three course pre-fixed airline food “tasting course” dinner. You also get the pleasure of being sandwiched in between other couples who bussed themselves in from the outer boroughs and use this one night as a make-or-break desperate meal. Dinner is usually some lame, overly dressed sad salad, followed by an overcooked filet mignon. Crappy service from waitresses who are in the midst of a private meltdown only exacerbates the pain. By the time the heart shaped molten chocolate lava cake arrives, you’ve probably already kicked your date to the curb. So after years of overly pressurized terrible Valentine’s Day dinners, we have concluded that this is the one night that you absolutely must NOT go out.
Coupled or not, it’s the perfect night to round up a gaggle of friends (preferably a mix of couples and singles) and throw a dinner party in the confines of your own home. Kicking them out at 9pm is optional.
Here’s a Valentine’s Day menu that’s been road tested with 150% success rate.
Starter: Avocado, grapefruit and arugula salad
Depending on how much you like your friends and the quality of the champagne they brought with them, you can add lobster to the salad. Simply dressed with a honey lemon vinaigrette, it is a great start to the meal.
Main: Beef Wellington
Beef Wellington (or the fancy French name – Filet de boeuf en croûte) is one of those uber romantic dinner dishes that you think should’ve died alongside duck à l’orange (pronounced in the nasal toned “or-AHHHNN-ge”) back in the 1970s, but it’s just so fabulous and amazing that your guests will be elevated to new heights. Perfectly paired with some fine vintage wines, be sure to dust off your finest china and crystal for this dinner. It’s truly worth it.
We recommend this recipe from Gordon Ramsay. It’s important to follow all the steps properly (dry pan for the mushrooms, chilling in the fridge) for the perfect results. Although not difficult, this is not a foolproof dish, and the little details make a huge difference.
The Game Plan
1). do the shopping / prep the day before
2). bake the cake the day before (but do not put the buttercream on until the day of)
3). set the table the night before
4). buy flowers for the table the morning of
5). chill all of the champagne, pull out wines. Decant Bordeaux the day of
6). decide on some simple canapés (store bought but beautifully presented)
7). work backwards and give yourself enough time to prep each step of the beef Wellington including chill time. Salad and veg can be prepped and finished right before serving
8). set out your outfit, make sure it’s wrinkle free / set aside some time to get ready
Just when your guests are saying that the dinner couldn’t get any better…. wow them with the most amazing chocolate layer cake!!! Ina’s cake is fool proof and a true classic. The perfect ending to the most commercial holiday of the year (besides all the other ones..)
When the champagne and wine are all finished, feel free to move on to a nice cognac which pairs nicely with your second slice of cake.