Anyone who has read this blog for the past several years knows I have an axe to grind with Valentine’s Day. It is perhaps the largest “rip-off holiday” of the year. Prices of flowers rise 400-600% for about 3-4 days, restaurants often gouge diners with ridiculously overpriced offerings and are swamped with people making for an uncomfortable and expensive evening of gritting one’s teeth in the name of love. Plus the traffic in Manila is horrendous to boot! So you won’t find us out for dinner tonight, we almost always stay home on February 14th. Lavish your soul mate with 5 huge bouquets of roses on five other days of the year, eat out with your significant other on a Tuesday some other week (it’s the slowest day at restaurants typically unless it’s Valentine’s) or better yet, cook a simple but delicious meal at home for a fraction of a restaurant V-Day meal, and spend the difference on a fantastic bottle of champagne or massage for two. Just don’t get fleeced on Valentine’s Day! :)
While we normally have some close friends over for an anti-Valentine Valentine’s Dinner at home, this year we did two meals with close friends over the past weekend and both meals were relatively heart friendly… Laden with vegetables and seafood, the dishes were simple yet special… and featured the recent bounty of local produce from the weekend markets… First up, a patani spread with blanched and peeled patani, blitzed in a food processor with a bit of water the beans were boiled in, good extra-virgin olive oil and some freshly grated parmesan cheese. Here served on a WASA cracker, but better on toast or other crackers. Top this with a bit of fried bacon or pancetta if you prefer…
Next up, a rather involved, but beautiful looking vegetable tart from the Ottolenghi cookbook “Plenty”… roasted vegetables like red and yellow peppers, eggplants, zucchini, sweet potatoes fight for breathing room with ricotta and feta cheeses and an egg and cream binder in a pie crust. It was delicious and visually stunning.
Served alongside the vegetable tart was an heirloom and cherry tomato salad (and beets, added after the photo) on a bed of wild arugula and treviso radicchio.
Guests brought this gorgeous bowl of spaghetti a la vongole (clams) in case some folks couldn’t handle all the veggies in one meal… :)
My plate that evening. It looked so colorful, and had a variety of textures and layers of flavor. The roasted kamote or sweet potato in the tart was a revelation.
We have had several Anti-V V-Dinners with a red theme in the past… rare beef, lobsters or prawns, red salads, red desserts… so some of that crept into our recent weekend meals. For one dinner, simple individual servings of plum crumble, red plum and sugar syrup runneth over…
…if you weren’t minding the caloric intake, we served this with some good vanilla ice cream on the side. :)
I also found these wonderful export quality berries from the Mt. Province for just PHP360 a kilo (got 400+ grams for PHP170 for 14 large berries), so I also made some strawberries dipped in dark chocolate. I know, I know, they seem upside down… but the cook accidentally removed the tops before she realized we were supposed to dip the bottoms… but actually, this mistake meant we got more chocolate onto each berry, and they were also less likely to “cook” or wilt the berry as there was more mass of fruit at the other end. They turned out fine and happily nourished several people, for less than the cost of a Mars bar per person. :)
Here are some other previous Valentine’s related posts to inspire you… Happy Valentine’s Day!
Anti-Valentine’s Dinner, 2006
The Run-up to Valentine’s Day, 2007
Marketman’s Valentine’s Poll, 2008
White Roses en Masse, 2005
Dimasalang Flower Market, Sampaloc Manila, 2005
A Gift of Roses, Version 1, 2005
A Gift of Roses, Version 2, 2005
Hundreds of Blooms for an Anniversary, 2007
Le Jardin de Ville, less traditional flower choices, 2007
Rose and Hydrangea Floral Arrangements for PHP186.66 each, 2007
A Special Ruby Dinner, 2007
Red Roses and Two Dinners, 2008
Roses in the Four Seasons/Jeff Leatham Style, 2008
Small “Tight” Floral Arrangements 101, 2009
Roses and Hydrangeas, 2010
Roses, Roses, Roses, 2010
Flowers for Valentine’s, 2011