For food lovers, Valentine’s Day is a time for indulgences

Pandemic Valentine’s Day #2…are we still having fun? Some people will go to the restaurant for romantic, social reasons…

Pandemic Valentine’s Day #2…are we still having fun?

Some people will head to restaurants for romantic, socially distant dinners (oh, life these days is full of oxymorons). But many of us will be staying home, celebrating our partnerships (or friends or roommates) as best we can.

One way to make the day special is to think about your favorite foods and then shift into high gear. Splurge on a more premium ingredient than usual; treat yourself to something you wouldn’t normally cook at home.

If an upscale steak dinner is your dream Valentine’s Day meal, bring it home. Porter Road Meats in Nashville, Tennessee, for example, offers human-sourced, dry-aged, and hand-cut meats. Maybe get some perfect rib eye, or try something new like the teres major cut; the chefs who founded the company pride themselves on using the whole animal, wasting as little as possible.

Or, lobster! McLoons Lobster Shack in Maine is offering a Valentine’s Day package for two that includes clam chowder, two lobster rolls and heart-shaped blueberry bread pudding. It’s a lobster lover’s dream meal, and it takes about 10 minutes to put together.

Maybe a splashing sushi meal is what you crave? New York-based Blue Ribbon Sushi will send you a DIY dinner kit with fresh fish, expertly prepared sushi rice, seaweed, and a bamboo bat for rolling (you can add other items, like caviar , lobster, crispy rice cakes and more).

Speaking of caviar…. there are many types, from the extravagant to the affordable. You can serve it simply on blinis or small toasts with a dollop of fresh cream or sour cream. Or lay it on a simple pasta dish, or maybe scrambled eggs. Fulton Fish Market in New York will ship directly to you; choices range from $20 a pot wild salmon roe to Osetra (lots more).

The way to some people’s hearts is cheese. Stinky, creamy, crumbly, delicate and funky cheese. Some of them have a crush on Cowgirl Creamy cheeses in California’s North Bay region. Warning: Their organic Mt. Tam triple cream can become a habit.

A splashy breakfast for Valentine’s Day is another option. Spruce up your eggs with a few premium crispy bacon strips, like the one from Peter Luger’s Steakhouse in Brooklyn (they serve strips of their caramelized bacon as an appetizer—talk about an indulgence). Bill-E’s Bacon of Fairhope, Alabama, makes thick slices that can spoil you forever from mainstream brands.

High-end cooking ingredients might include a bottle of more refined olive oil or balsamic vinegar.

But let’s talk about butter, because, well, butter. Supermarket butters are great for everyday cooking and baking, but once you dip your toe into the world of cultured or European-style butters, you can really notice the difference.

Atlanta’s Banner Butter comes in salted and unsalted, both delicious, but also Smoked Sea Salt, Roasted Garlic, Basil and Parsley and, for Valentine’s Day, note Dark Chocolate (on a homemade scone, perhaps? ). Minerva Dairy, a family-owned creamery for more than 120 years, offers flavors like Lemon Poppyseed and Everything Bagel. Tell me those butters don’t look very fun.

If you have a thing for Asian cuisine and condiments, you know that chili crunch has been the darling of the seasoning world for quite some time. It’s an amazing addition to stir-fries and other recipes, but has also been a cult favorite when used in unusual ways (over ice cream? Yes!). Treat yourself or your Valentine to a new pot: popular brands include Momofuku, Fly by Jing, Su Chili Crisp and Boon Sauce.

Forget supermarket staple soy sauce for a moment – ​​shoyu (Japanese-style soy) sauces are enjoying a renaissance. Mikuni Wild Harvest Shoyu Sauce comes in beautiful bottles and interesting flavors (note the smoky and cherry blossom varieties).

Even “humble” ingredients can be upgraded. For example, bean lovers know that California-based Rancho Gordo Heirloom Beans are creamier and tastier than most dried beans you can get at a supermarket.

Great pasta is another reasonable luxury – those few extra dollars can make a huge difference. Filotea egg pasta is traditionally made in the Marche region of Italy. Tagliatelle, fettuccine, squid ink spaghetti, whichever recipe you choose, you’re already on the right track.

If this Valentine’s Day finds you and yours curled up in front of the TV watching a romantic comedy, up your popcorn experience. Stone Hollow Popcorn is available in jars or gift boxes, and you can choose from heirloom varieties like red, blue, and lady finger.

And we can’t discuss Valentine’s Day without talking about chocolate. There are a few ways to do it: you can gift your loved ones fancy chocolates like LA Burdick’s whimsical, classic, handmade mice with toasted almond ears, or check out the Colorful Love box from andSons chocolatiers, a dazzling range that’s ALMOST too pretty to eat (you’ll get over it).

Midunu chocolates are made in Ghana and the jewel-like confections are designed to honor African chocolate-making traditions. Try their chocolate tasting kit for four with a flavor wheel, tasting mats and more.

Or roll up your sleeves and start baking! Choose a chocolate that will enhance your brownies/cakes/cookies/tarts: brands like Ghirardelli, Guittard, Valrhona, and Endangered Species.

If you’re a regular cook, your indulgence might come in the form of a new pan. Smithey makes cast iron and carbon steel cookware so beautiful you might want to leave it on the stovetop. Their round roaster is like a little sculpture, and their new and adorable mini pans are perfect for hot dips or brownies for two.

Staying home for Valentine’s Day sounds better and better!

—-

Katie Workman writes frequently about food for The Associated Press. She has written two cookbooks focused on home cooking, “Dinner Solved!” and “The Mom 100 Cookbook”. She blogs at http://www.themom100.com/about-katie-workman. She can be reached at Katie@themom100.com.

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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