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More Valentine’s Day Fun

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I’m working the kids into my Valentine’s Day dinner this year, which suits me just fine. But I’m hopeful there are some diehard romantics out there who are willing to throw down the love—and the green—to celebrate in style. We’re 48 hours away from Cupid’s arrival, so if you haven’t made any plans yet, it’s crunch time. Special menus abound, so even if choices one and two don’t pan out this late in the game, you won’t be short on options. Recent Web surfing has turned up a bevy of delectable menus, all loaded with voluptuous-sounding dishes to tantalize you and your favorite Romeo or Juliet. But who says only couples should have all the fun? Just because you’re feeling pessimistic about Cupid’s presence in your life doesn’t mean you should deny yourself—and your taste buds—some mind-blowing … food.

Think about it. Who’s going to know whether your relationship is platonic or not? Take my advice and send out an invite to your most capricious guy or gal friend (or your brother, sister, mom or dad) and drown your sorrows in one of the fine feasts being offered downtown or in the ’burbs. The most bitter among us will surely appreciate the James Anti-Valentine’s Day feast (see below). But don’t limit your options, because you never know where love will find you.

Oh, and before I forget…

I paid a visit to Miami’s South Beach for the first time last weekend and caught some interesting views of the rich and famous (and the pretenders). Nothing says “party like a rock star” like dancing on the back of a couch (actually designed as a mini-dance-floor) and swigging out of an enormous bottle of Grey Goose vodka while two body guards keep watch. (Apparently there were some young royalty in the house.) Lush times aside, the beaches are beautiful, and the hotels swanky. After gleefully (we were AT THE BEACH after all) paying exorbitant prices for average food—like a Spartan turkey club for $17 (there wasn’t even avocado!)—we concluded that the South Beach Diet evolved out of a rebellion over pricey dining options. “Eat less, spend less” is a good motto: I had a virgin bloody Mary and a chicken quesadilla (both very good) that, with the hotel-added 20-percent gratuity, came to $32.

When in South Beach, I’d definitely recommend dinner at the sleek, Asian fusion China Grill (part of an upscale restaurant empire that, I believe, began in Manhattan). The space is cool—and the night we were there, we dined near members of “women in sports media” (unofficial title), who were in town for a convention. Check it out at chinagrillmgt.com.

If you really want to score points with your Valentine, how about tucking a plane ticket in with that card? The South Beach Food and Wine Festival (sponsored by Food & Wine magazine) runs Feb. 21-24, and there is serious fun to be had. For details, go to miami.about.com/od/fooddrink/a/sobewinefood.htm.

Now, back to that James menu:

James Anti-Valentine’s Day Menu (jameson8th.com)
Oysters on the half shell or salt-roasted shrimp and fennel-scented white-bean puree

Potato gnocchi gratinata or ricotta-leek agnolotti, thyme brown butter and parmigiano-reggiano

Slow-roasted poularde, cauliflower and sage jus or whole branzino, pan-fried baby Brussels sprouts, cipollini and white wine sauce or braised veal cheeks, root vegetable puree and gremolata

Dessert: chocolate bread pudding or apple and cranberry cobbler; vanilla ice cream scooped tableside

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