Did you have a happy holiday?
Are you tired of hearing that? Admit it, did you put your Grinch face on this season? Are you just holly-jollied out, and weary of cheers and jubilant expressions that match the vivid glittered napkin that hugs your bubbly? Wouldn’t you much rather cozy up to a hot buttered rum and read that new book you’ve been trying to start? I bet the cat would love it if you would sit still long enough for him to nest upon. I myself am tired of events and cheer in general. It’s not that I’m an unhappy person, don’t misunderstand me. I’m just an introvert and far prefer the comfort of my own cave than a fussy party any day. Instead of getting gussied up for the upcoming Valentine’s Day, what say you and I just stay home and cook instead? Sound good? Here’s my plot.
Attention Lonely Hearts Club, girls night, or singles tired of the dating scene! Let’s stay home and rebel against St. Valentine, and cheers to ourselves and our cooking skills (or Manhattan-making skills). Don’t worry, I’ve got all the ingredients here for a night well spent at home. We begin with the perfect dinner recipe, a cheese plate, and chocolate fondue. Oh yes, we are gorging ourselves tonight. Let’s start with the cheese. Take yourself on down to Mazarro’s and dive into the stinky cheese room. Get what you want there, but I recommend a triple crème brie cheese. Once it reaches room temperature you can scoop the goopy bliss right onto your cracker. A good mild option is a Piave. It’s Italian (ey!) cow’s milk cheese and it as a similar taste to Parmesan. Another good option is Stilton, which sounds like a great dogs name. English in origin, blue Stilton is similar to blue cheese, only stronger and packing more punch. Fill up the rest of your tiny cart with hard salami, green Italian olives, tiny french olives, toasted crackers, fresh honey, and almonds (great with the Piave). Any Italian red wine would be fabulous with the cheese. May I recommend a Nero d’Avola?
If you’re a cocktail fan, give an Old Fashioned a whirl. Retro cocktails have made a giant comeback and are trending now in all the bars and hotels. An Old Fashioned will give you an appreciation for whiskey. I’ve never understood the concoction, but my wizard of a husband recently discovered Old Fashioneds and we love them. and the least greasy. I occasionally add some mint chocolate to the mix for a little fun. Most recipes call for 12oz of chocolate and 8oz of heavy whipping cream. Simmer the cream until it starts to bubble slightly, then slowly add the chocolate, and whisk about until it looks dreamy. You can add chopped hazelnuts, too, if you feel like you’ve got a wild hair. Fresh strawberries are my favorite, but you can dip just about anything edible in chocolate and it somehow tastes better. I’d stick with Maybe I just love how swanky he looks when he holds one. The recipe is simple: 2 oz Rye Whiskey, 1 tsp sugar, 1-2 dashes of bitters, orange slice, 1-2 maraschino cherries, and a tsp of water. Muddle the cherries, sugar, and water with a spoon in that great mid-century glass your Gramma saved for a good reason. Add the goods, stir, and top with an orange slice and a cube or two of ice, and you’ve got it made.
On to the fondue! It’s SO easy, don’t worry. Get your mitts on some chunks of semi-sweet chocolate. I find that Nestle’s chocolate chips are the best the fresh fruits and poundcakes. Drool the chocolate into a bowl and dip to your hearts content. Make sure to make a mess and get it all over your face. Dessert is so much more fun when it’s a mess.
The moral of my story is: stay home tonight. You’ve had a long season of being cheery, you worked hard on honing your gift-giving skills, and now it’s time to appreciate the great wonders of the home. Get creative and romance your way through cooking and cocktailing.
Plus, your cat misses you