I think that Valentineâ€™s Day is the single biggest rip-off holiday ever!!! Prices skyrocket for dinner, flowers, etc. for a 24 hour period as if you couldnâ€™t give your significant other a beautiful bunch of flowers, delicious chocolate or a sumptuous meal some other day of the calendar year. There is this underlying pressure to do SOMETHING on February 14 or be relegated to Valentineâ€™s ignomy. Baloney. Phooey. I, too, used to stress over what flowers, chocolate, perfume, jewelry to send or where to eat but I think when you cross 3 decades on the planet you get much wiser. Mind you, the most uncharacteristic thing I have ever done for Valentine’s was to take a coded personal advertisement out in the International Herald Tribune one year when I was abroad so that my wife and only my wife would understand it… how’s that for Valentine’s outrageous?!? Many years ago some friends convinced us to join them for a Valentineâ€™s Dinner at a really fancy hotel restaurant with mediocre champagne and a middling roast beef. A substandard meal and â€œfreeâ€ rose cost a whopping PHP12,000 for my wife and I!!! Out-bloody-rageous. And the service was horrible to bootâ€¦ Never in my life have I felt so duped.
Ever since then, my wife and I have hosted an annual â€œAnti-Valentineâ€™s Dinnerâ€ at our home. We invite friends, families, couples and singles. They avoid traffic, lousy meals, surly service, astronomical prices and instead dine with us in airconditioned comfort on a menu that hopefully rivals some of Manilaâ€™s chi-chi-est restaurants. One year we did a â€œred themeâ€ with a tuna tartare to start, beet salad, rare roast beef and strawberries for dessert accompanied by superb red wine from Bordeaux. Another year we opted for foie gras, lobster and beef with crÃ¨me brulees to end the meal. I actually donâ€™t recall all the menus but I do recall that the dinners have always been among the best we have given every year. And since everyone is so relieved to avoid the commercial silliness, they inevitably bring the most stunning wine, oodles of chocolate or other sweets and hours of intelligent conversation. I usually hit the flower market the day before and have more than enough roses to satisfy everyone.
This year I will be out of town on business so we wonâ€™t be having the annual Anti-Valentineâ€™s Dinner. But if you must succumb to the holiday I figured I should give you some Marketman tips how to do it with style without breaking your piggy banksâ€¦ First up, roses. Roses at the Dangwa or Dimasalang markets treble to quadruple in prices for the 3-4 days before Valentineâ€™s. Never mind, they still cost just PHP200-300 for two dozen. These huge bunches of say 8-10 dozen would only be PHP1,000-1,200 which is about 1/10th you would pay if you walked into a flower shop in the mall! Strip off the thorns and leaves and place in a vase or wrap up in cellophane and your significant other will be impressed. I have several ideas for how to prepare the roses here and here. But don’t just think roses. A packed arrangement of hydrangeas are stunning, so are potted amaryllis or even some nice orchids. Next post, food ideas for Valentineâ€™sâ€¦