A Valentine’s Day for All to Love

by Amanda McDougall
January 2008

So maybe Valentine’s Day in the 21st Century isn’t quite what ol’ St. Valentine himself imagined for the day named for him. But for chefs and restaurateurs it’s exactly what they need after the post-Holiday doldrums of over-eaten, over-tired, and over-spent customers: the most profitable dining day of the year.

The irony of this day – as in-the-black as it is – is that it appeals to a decreasing percentage of Americans. The U.S. Census Bureau shows a steady increase of single individuals over the last several years, and this percentage is even higher in major metropolitan areas. So why not welcome the growing majority of people who otherwise stay at home on February 14th with a counter-Valentine’s Day meal? Give them a reason to celebrate being able to eat those date-forbidden foods, like garlic, offal, and stinky cheese. » more


Bittersweet End
Mixologist Peter Vestinos of Sepia – Chicago, IL

Flame of Love
Mixologist Eric Simpkins of Trois – Atlanta, GA

Maytag Blue Cheesecake

Chef Alex Cheswick of May Street Market - Chicago, IL

Bacalao Cakes with Grilled Red Onion-Tomato Salad and Garlic Aioli

Chef Alan Hughes of One Ninety – Miami, FL

Roasted Veal Sweetbreads with Spanish Chorizo and Potatoes

Chef Chris Nugent of Les Nomades – Chicago, IL

Oatmeal Stout Panna Cotta

Pastry Chef Elizabeth Dahl of Boka – Chicago, IL

Offering a menu specifically for singles, either parties-of-one or larger groups of friends and family, can fill open seats (especially for restaurants with a less romantic feel or a heavy singles scene) and make those who may otherwise feel left out feel appreciated and a little defiant of a day brimming with oysters, chocolate, and silly romanticism.

Dragon breath be damned, this collection of recipes highlights classic date no-no dishes and ingredients. Whet the appetite and set the stage for the evening with a pair of dry and snappy cocktails that feature bitter liqueurs. The Maytag Blue Cheesecake by Alex Cheswick works as an appetizer or a composed cheese plate; it’s purely savory and all about that stinky blue cheese tang. While Alan Hughes’ Bacalao Cakes release the onion and garlic dragons, Chris Nugent’s Sweetbreads breathe life into offal with a spicy chorizo accompaniment. End the evening on a semisweet note with Elizabeth Dahl’s savory dessert. The Oatmeal Stout Panna Cotta plays up the funky, yeasty flavor of the stout, with just a touch of sweetness from brown sugar and a stout gelee.


   Published: January 2008