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Valentine’s Day Dinner

February 18, 2009

My hubby and I made a pact years ago to do the dinner-date-in-a-restaurant thing for Valentine’s Day the weekend before or after. Restaurants are frequently overcrowded, overpriced, and poorly serviced on the world’s most romantic holiday. Instead, we go out another night, and spend the actual night in with good food and fine wine.

This year I served a Parmesan Kale Salad as a starter, which featured white balsamic vinegar, currants, toasted pine nuts, and shaved aged parmesan atop a bed of tuscan kale from this month’s Bon Appetite.   The honey in the dressing really offset the white balsamic and was delish!  I paired it with one of my favorite  (and affordable) sauvignon blancs, Kim Crawford (second only to Brander’s Cuvee Natalie).  The Kim Crawford is delightful in every way – its high acidity pairs well with any food, and its incredibly aromatic and herbaceous nose make actually drinking it a second thought.  The grassiness might be too much for some, but its got the typical tropical/citrus combination found in NZ sauvignon blancs to please any palate.

Kale Parmesan Salad

The entree was Walnut Encrusted Halibut (there I go using my superfoods!) with roasted tomatoes on the side.   The halibut recipe is an old Bon Appetite recipe I found on Epicurious (the source for many of my favorite recipes after I gave up my gourmet subscription 5 years ago).  The balsamic roasted tomatoes came from the new Barefoot Contessa cookbook (my mom has been talking about it nonstop since the day it was released and she kindly sent me a copy).  I was pleasantly pleased with both recipes.   I substituted the herbs de provence on the fish with my own mixture, a lavender sea salt blend with oregano and thyme.  The fish had to cook much longer than the recipe called for, but alas that was partly my fault as the fillets were very thick.   All in all, both were definite do-agains.

Halibut and Tomatoes

Finally, for desert I served poach pears (remember I am a health nut!) with whipped greek yogurt and honey – sorry the pic didn’t turn out that well.  I used a Polish trick (my hubby’s background) and instead of poaching the pears in red wine (which can turn the pears a brownish color), I poached them in a more syrupy orange muscat for flavor, and added a sliced red beet which dyed the pears a pretty Valentine’s Day red.  Trust me, you wouldn’t taste the beets if you didnt know they were there – and they added a very earthy element for those that don’t like sickly sweet deserts.  At this point, we settled down with a bottle of Shifrin Howell Mt. Zinfandel, recommended by Gary V of course.  It was jammy and spicy with a hint of chocolate – everything you could want in a Zin after dinner.  While we all know decanting is usually only necessary for more aged wines – our second bottle of this will definitely benefit from a little decanting to help burn off some of the extra heat on the back-end.

Poached Pears

I hope everyone’s Valentine’s Day was filled with happiness and love!

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