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Five ways to make Valentine’s Day the best ever

Five ways to make Valentine’s Day the best ever

by Great British Chefs Thursday, January 14, 2016

The way to most people's hearts is through their stomach, and Valentine's Day is the perfect time to show off your culinary skills and express your love for a special someone. Follow our guide for a romantic meal to remember.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Candlelit tables, clinking glasses, time alone together – Valentine’s Day gives us all the perfect excuse to spend an evening with the one we love. A special dinner for two is the traditional way to celebrate, with good wine, the finest ingredients and beautiful looking dishes. Here are our five top tips for a blissful night of good food, great drink and amazing company.

1. Stay in

There’s always a mad rush for tables in the run-up to 14 February, as people try to book the most romantic restaurants they can find. But instead of forking out for a special Valentine’s Day menu, why not recreate the fine dining experience at home? You’ll have complete privacy instead of sitting in a large room full of strangers, be able to eat exactly what you want and cooking for your partner is much more impressive than taking them out to a fancy restaurant. Set the scene with a crisp white tablecloth and a perfectly set table, then dim the lights and light a few candles.

When deciding what to serve to your nearest and dearest, make sure you choose something that only needs a little bit of cooking on the actual night, and try and get as much prep done as possible earlier in the day. After all, you don’t want to spend hours creating the perfect setting, only to spend most of the night slaving away over a hot stove.

2. A touch of luxury

 
 

A memorable meal needs to look as good as it tastes, particularly if you’re looking to impress. A few artistic touches can transform a plate of good food into something great, so be sure to put lots of effort into how your dish is presented as well as the actual cooking. Spending a little extra on some luxurious ingredients will add that magic finishing touch; these Smoked salmon, nori and mooli canapés from Robin Gill, for example, are finished off with a small spoonful of caviar, elevating them from a delicious snack to a restaurant-quality plate of food (they can also be prepared in advance, then simply assembled right before dinner). If your partner loves steak, slice up a small piece of Wagyu beef from the butcher for a little taste of luxury, or whip up a batch of truffles infused with saffron and finished with gold leaf for those with a sweet tooth.

3. Splash out on shellfish

Romantic evenings out and top quality seafood seem to go hand in hand; the UK is home to some of the best shellfish in the world and a platter of delights caught off our coast is perfect for marking a special occasion. Native oysters are in season and require minimal prep, as are scallops – find the biggest you can buy from a sustainable source and simply pan-fry them to create an incredible starter. Nathan Outlaw knows everything there is to know about cooking seafood, and his Crispy foccacia oysters with oyster mayonnaise and Fennel crackers with crab will win the hearts of any fish lover.

 
A selection of canapés served over the course of the evening means you’ll have more time to relax, talk and enjoy each other’s company, instead of worrying about getting the timings right between your starter, main and dessert.

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4. The spice of life

It’s always tempting to serve up giant portions of food when cooking at home, making sure everyone is more than satisfied at the end of the meal. But for special occasions such as Valentine’s Day, a giant bowl of stew or a hefty slab of meat doesn’t really fit with the sophisticated, romantic setting most of us are hoping to achieve. Try bringing the ‘small plates’ concept from the restaurant into your home; that way, you’ll be able to show off more of your cooking expertise, be able to enjoy a wider variety of flavours and there’s no pressure to polish off a large three-course meal, leaving you sluggish and ready for a nap afterwards. A selection of canapés served over the course of the evening means you’ll have more time to relax, talk and enjoy each other’s company, instead of worrying about getting the timings right between your starter, main and dessert. All the recipes mentioned above are ideal as small plates or canapés, and will work together in unison as the ultimate Valentine’s Day menu.

5. Don't forget the drink!

A special occasion calls for a bottle of something truly memorable, and these days you can’t do much better than a sparkling wine from one of England’s award-winning vineyards. The deliciously complex flavour goes perfectly with light, delicate canapés, and a glass of bubbly is the perfect drink to toast your enduring love for that special someone. Bring it to the table in a bucket of ice, get out your very best wine flutes and enjoy an incredible evening in together.

 
 
 
 

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