How to Prepare a Meal for Your Valentine

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A fancy meal can be just what a relationship needs to kick it into full gear, or simply to restate how much your significant other means to you.
Credit: @WikimediaCommons

Hey everyone, Sasha here and today I’m going to give all of you some tips, tricks, and even a couple hints on preparing a meal for your date. So, I’m going to take you through the whole night. Going step by step from preparing and cooking the food to plating the menu and picking out the best wine and even the perfect table setting. So, stick with me, and your night will be one to remember.

Step One:

 Preparing the Meal

When trying to figure out what it is that you’re going to prepare, it’s important to remember that you are doing this for someone else and it would be very wise to try and find out what it is that they like to eat. It’s best to keep a simple recipe such as meatloaf or lemon and herb-roasted chicken with mashed potatoes and parmesan-roasted broccoli. You can get the recipe from a cookbook, or if you are struggling with what to make you can always visit Foodnetwork.com for lots of fantastic recipes and ideas. When preparing a meal for a date you should make something that is easy, not too time strenuous, and something you know they will love. It’s really important, and I can’t emphasize it enough, that you should keep things simple and avoid over extravagance.  There is absolutely no need to dress to the nines and prepare a five-course dinner. Keep it simple! It’s the thought you’re going for, not the end-result.

Step Two:

Picking the Perfect Wine

When trying to pick out a wine, you should consider four things:

1)  Cost

2)  Location

3)  Pairings

4)  Quality

Now, let’s break them down one at a time. First, let’s talk cost. Now by no means am I saying you need to go out and spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on bottles of wine, no no no no. However, you also shouldn’t go out and purchase the cheapest bottle you can find, this is also bad. Generally, when purchasing a bottle of wine, you should gravitate to the $20 – 30 range. There are many great bottles to choose from at this price range such as Moscato, Arbor Mist, and Entwine just to name a few.

Next, I want to talk location. Now I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with going to your neighborhood Wal-Mart and purchasing a bottle or two of wine, gods know I have myself. However, when purchasing wine, whenever possible, it is best to acquire it from a liquor store. Clerks that work at liquor stores know alcohol, that’s their job. In short, the clerk at the liquor store is going to be able to answer any questions you might have better and more knowledgeably than the clerk at Wal-Mart.

Next up to discuss are the pairings. Pairings are simple and rely on what exactly you plan on preparing. If you are cooking fish, pork, or chicken, the white meats, you would want a white or light-colored wine. Whereas if you are cooking beef, you would generally choose a red or dark-colored wine. Now, none of these are set in stone, and you should always consume what you enjoy and what tastes good to you, if that means red wine with fish or white wine with a big juicy steak then that’s what you should go for.

The last thing we’ll talk about is quality. By quality, I’m talking more about the quality of your taste buds and the quality of the brand. As I stated above, you should always consume what tastes good, and there are many different attributes to how a wine tastes. Some people like more of an oaky-tasting wine while others prefer a creamier wine, it all depends on your taste buds. My personal favorite is Arbor Mist brand of wine because it has a fruiter taste to it. You should experiment and try different wines to find out what you like best.

Step Three:

 Setting the Perfect Table

So first, let’s start with the tablecloth. If you’re going to use a tablecloth, unless it’s a “theme” dinner, you should go for more neutral colors such as white, beige, or possibly even black. Plates should be housed within the same parameters, no patterns and stick to more neutral colors unless, again, you are hosting a “theme” dinner. For those interested, I’ll be discussing “theme” dinners in another issue. The reasoning for keeping the plates “clean” is because you want your food to shine, not the plates.

Last but not least is candles and flowers. I have very simple guidelines when choosing candles and flowers for the table. For candles, you want to go for the small, non-scented tea candles. They’re small but they give off enough light, and you don’t want the fragrance of the candle competing with the smell of your delicious cooking. With flowers, you want to keep them short, simple, and subtle. Just like with the candles you don’t want the perfume of the flowers to interfere too much with the smell of your cooking, but you want flowers that have a more subtle scent. Also, be sure to keep the flower arrangement short, you don’t want to have to play peek-a-boo with your date because the flowers are too tall for you to see each other. Above all, just keep it simple, I know I’ve stated it many times throughout this article, but it’s imperative that you do. When you make a flower arrangement for your dinner table, it’s best to choose two or three flowers of the same color family and base your arrangement around those flowers, that way everything will flow well together and not look cluttered. Also, you definitely should if whenever possible, incorporate some nice herbs into your flower arrangement too, such as rosemary, thyme, or basil; especially if it’s in the meal itself.

In closing guys, just the same as Sandra Lee, I would say to “keep it simple” and “keep it sweet,” but I think I would also add “keep it fun.” Don’t get so caught up in the details that you miss the big picture and forget to have fun with it. When you’re having fun, they will have fun. So, get out, get cooking, make a mess, and always have a good time.

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