Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love is in the air

Valentine's is upon us - and beside offering up a box of chocolatey delights for my Valentine, I always like to highlight the evening with a romantic dinner for us to share. Now we've been through the usual suspects: fondues, fillet mignon, fondant chocolate cakes, seafood, oysters, escargots...You name it, we've already tried it. This year I happened upon a random web search thread(you know the kind - click, link, click, link - until you're light years away from your starting point), and found myself at a picnic in Sydney, Australia. More specifically, the Sydney Picnic Co., which is exactly that - provider of baskets brimming with locally sourced treats for picnic-goers. I am a little disappointed that I did not know of its existence when I was visiting Sydney. 
 Anyway, I was browsing through their delicious-sounding menus, and happened upon the special Valentine's Day picnic for two - ideal for Australians celebrating in the peak of summer, but not so much for us Canadians, frozen in our igloos right now. Regardless, I thought the idea was awesome for a blanket-on-the-living-room-floor, curled up in front of the fireplace with a good bottle of wine, cozying up to my beloved kind of picnic, so I set to work. 
(Look! He even brought me roses!)
I researched the menus items, scouring the interwebs for inspirational images and same-ingredients recipes. I then added my own spin, changing key ingredients to suit our preferences, incorporating food I already had on hand. I ended up with a menu I was so happy with, I prepared a second picnic which I sent over to my parents!
To emphasize the picnic aspect of the meal, I packages each course in its own cardboard box(cupcake boxes from the dollar store), which I lined with waxed paper or aluminum foil.
Course 1:
Slow-roasted tomatoes and goat cheese, with black olives, basil and balsamic vinegar. I served this with a freshly-baked baguette.

Course 2:
Peaches, prosciutto, fresh mozzarella and mint. The mozzarella got a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil before serving.

Course 3:
Grilled filet mignon, spicy prawns and asparagus, served with a salsa verde. This course was served hot off the grill, but I could easily see it served room temperature at a summer picnic outdoors, too.

Course 4:
Mild Brie with balsamic fig jam and walnut crostini.

Course 5:
Chocolate pots de creme with strawberries and amaretti cookies.

The entire menu was a great success, with each dish turning out extremely flavorful and delicious, despite my never having attempted any of the recipes before. All the food parings were quite successful, too. All in all, I think it was a very enjoyable evening, spent eating good food in the company of my wonderful guy, love of my life, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Happy Valentine's Day, and I hope this finds you spending quality time doing the things you love with the people you love, and not just today, but everyday.

PS: Find the recipes here!

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