When two foodies fall in love special occasions take on a reverse sense of meaning in the dining department. As a couple, the Cute Gardener and I spend most of our “entertainment” budget on dinners out; rather than saving for electronic gadgets or high tech toys, we’d rather try a new restaurant on a weekly basis. We get excited over cheese shops more often than blockbuster films in the movie theaters, preferring to watch the flick a few months later with our own lavish charcuterie spread on the living room coffee table. So when Valentine’s Day rolls around every year, we look at each other glad that we won’t be braving the mad dash towards limited restaurant reservations and ask each other what we are going to make to eat at home—our version of honoring the day with something completely out of the ordinary for us. We also feel it’s silly to act as if one day is special in a year where we love each other every day, but we give in regardless and start putting together a menu.
The Cute Gardener’s funkadelic chicken liver mousse. No more ordering this in restaurants as it will surely never again live up. (I am also banned from ever ordering butterscotch pot de creme unless it is at Gjelina’s, BBQ unless I am in Kansas City, or macarons unless I am in France.)
This year we decided to create a French bistro in our living room filled with dishes that we have collected as particular favorites throughout the years. The menu included my prized mustard batons from Dorrie Greenspan’s Around My French Table, chicken liver mousse (something we both love but find to be overly fat or cream filled and not funky, bone marrow-y enough in restaurants), a version of French onion soup by Comme Ca Restaurant chef David Myers (whose food we tend to enjoy) and the sinful pot de crème from Gjelina which remains my number one favorite dessert of all time (the recipe of which was graciously printed in the Los Angeles Times at one point by chef Travis Lett.) – all of which would then be accompanied by some prosciutto, country pork pate and radishes with French butter.
Our mutual love for food is not the only reason we fell into perfect synch together. Like I admitted on a Valentine’s video card made last minute in a store parking lot on Friday while I was procuring a loaf of French bread for our dinner, I truly found my perfectly interlocking puzzle piece when I met the CG. Now for normal people, that may not sound all that hard to do – find someone who complements all the things you are and are not. But for an oddball female artist who gets more excited over cardboard boxes in the dumpster than Nordstrom’s and a gardening curmudgeon with meticulous ways that’s downright miraculous.
So for our decidedly un-Valentine’s Day we started cooking on Thursday night after a visit with my daughter and her new boyfriend in which their googly-eyed, twenty-year-old, candy box in the shape of a red heart style love permeated the house with the scent of solitary roses. We got rid of that aroma quickly with the musk of Cognac spiked chicken livers and a mass pot of onions weeping into oblivion for the soup. With our two main dishes set, all we had to do on Friday night was pop the Champagne, toss up a salad of hard boiled egg, arugula and peas from the garden and dive into the second season of House of Cards on the couch—spending that annual night where others swoon over each other in love with the Underwoods, the most evil, conniving and manipulative couple on television yet.
But that wasn’t all. On Saturday, we decided to continue the at-home food fest by enjoying a post-six-mile-couple’s-hike sausage feast from our favorite Continental counter with subtle bockwurst and cheese bursting kasekrainers. Today, we enjoyed a Southern style shrimp and grits breakfast at The Hart and the The Hunter after a visit to LACMA where James Turrell lit up my heart with his light. And tonight we are slicing up our version of the heart shaped cake – a slice of lamb’s heart terrine from Lindy and Grundy butchers topped off by a cherry hamantaschen from the delightful Diamond Bakery on Fairfax.
Happy heart weekend to all!