Even though I’m a fairly laid back person with an “anything goes” attitude, my wife stresses, and has since we started dating, about choosing where to go for dinner. I’ve seen her almost have an anxiety attack trying to decide between Italian food and burgers for dinner, because she was scared I wouldn’t like the menu. Special occasions like Valentine’s Day are even worse, spending days of planning for one dinner. I’ve always told her to go with her gut feeling, pun intended, when choosing a restaurant. If the menu looks good and the ambiance seems nice, go ahead and make a reservation or if you’re already at the front door, get the next table available. Remember, it’s just food; we’re not talking major surgery here. The company should be more important than the appetizers.
I’ve seen too many people pass over a restaurant because of one bad review. We’ve all had bad days, and I’m sure we don’t want everyone to judge us by that one bad day, so why judge a restaurant because of one bad day or review? Give it a shot; it might be one of the best meals you’ve ever had.
Some of my most memorable meals have been at hole-in-the-wall, “what the heck is Yelp?”, the owner is the chef, restaurants. There was a great Indonesian place in London, where everything was served family style, and even after 20 years, I still remember the seafood curry. I couldn’t tell you the name of the place or where to find it, but I definitely recommend it.
Then there was this Cuban café in Montego Bay, Jamaica where I learned to truly appreciate slow roasted mojo pork. I think we ate there at least a half dozen times during our stay. Sandwiches or dinner plates, it didn’t matter, it was all delicious. Also, I might have developed a slight addiction to authentic Cuban pork sandwiches during my visit, something that I’m still living with to this day.
On one of our last trips, my wife and I stopped in a Peruvian restaurant for a cocktail and ended up staying for an hour trying different ceviches and tiraditos. It was a perfect way to kill some time, and a few pisco sours, while trying some new cuisine.
The same holds true for cooking at home. I can’t remember a single chef in my career that went home every night and made a four-course dinner. I hate to admit it, but during the busy seasons, they knew me by name at the local fast food drive thru.
A nice bowl of pasta with sautéed veggies and shrimp accompanied by a glass of chilled white wine is all it takes to make a romantic dinner at home. Over the past few years, my wife has started to develop her own list of go-to recipes that she can make off the top of her head. I’ll come home to a freshly made bowl of Soy-Miso Soup with Veggies and Poached Eggs or Mediterranean Chicken with Orzo, Feta and Peppers. Just getting to enjoy someone else’s cooking can be a most meaningful gift.
If you can’t decide between cooking a meal at home or going out to a restaurant for Valentine’s Day, try splitting the difference, and coming to one of our Valentine’s Day classes. If all you want to do is sit down, relax and enjoy each other’s company, our demonstration Romantic Valentine’s Dinner is the perfect way to go. If you’re looking for something a little more engaging, try our Hands-On Valentine’s Feast. Remember, the company is the important part.
To quote Anthony Bourdain – “Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.” Just remember to get off every now and again to stretch your legs.