By Victoria Freixa
It’s that time of year again. The heart-shaped boxes are on the shelves, the teddy bears are on display, and all your favorite restaurants are booking up faster than you can say “table for two.” Love is in the air, my friends. And nothing says “I love you” like a romantic home-cooked meal. Besides, do you really want to have to fight the crowds, sit in the worst seat in the house, and fork out half your paycheck to eat in a room full of strangers on the most romantic day of the year?
Valentine’s Day should be about being intimate and showing your loved one how much you care. So, bust out the table cloth and candles, and put on that apron, because we’ve made a list of 4 romantic dinner ideas that are guaranteed to get you lucky—or at least a warm smile and a happy tummy.
And much like you and your valentine, every meal has a perfect match. In the case of food, it’s a drink. And in the spirit of spreading the love, we took the liberty of listing the ideal wine or cocktail pairing for each dish. You’re welcome.
Don’t let the fact that places like Chili’s and Friday’s serve these bad boys by the truckload deter you. There is nothing as satisfying as a good Fajita plate. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand why they are so popular… they are delicious. And most importantly, they’re easy to make. Whether you and your honey are a steak, chicken, or shrimp kind of couple, or you’re vegetarians, there’s a Fajita combo just right for you two. You can keep it simple with just a steak set up, or if you’re like me, you’ll be a little more ambitious and toss all the meats together. Either way, this meal will add the sizzle to your sizzling evening.
Drink Pairing: MARGARITA! Make it fun by adding a little twist. Some suggestions: Mango Margarita, Chipotle Grapefruit Margarita, Cucumber Jalapeño Margarita, … you get the gist.
If you know anything about Peruvian food, then you know Lomo Saltado. Lomo Saltado single-handedly put Peru on the culinary map—okay, it may share the spotlight with the ceviche, but still. If you’re aiming to drive your honey crazy on Valentine’s Day, then this is the dish to make. Succulent marinated steak sautéed with tomatoes, onions, and potatoes, and served alongside a scoop of rice… I mean, do we really need to say more? This is a winner in my book.
Drink Pairing: CARMÉNÈRE. The medium-bodied, fruity flavors in a Carmènére will complement the beefiness of the Lomo Saltado perfectly. And if you choose this red wine, you must go Chilean. There’s no question that this originally French grape found its ideal home in the Colchagua Valley of Chile.
The famous Spanish dish is loved worldwide for a reason. It originated in the coastal cities of Spain, but unsurprisingly has become the national dish. It’s complex and vibrant; it’s savory and well-rounded. It’s got everything you want from a meal and more. Seafood? Check! Sausage? Check! Chicken? Check! Veggies? Check! Yellow rice? Check! And we could go on and on because the ingredient choices are endless. This well-balanced dream meal is not only delicious, it’s nourishing. So, make sure to go for seconds—why not? It’s a holiday, right?
Drink Pairing: SANGRIA. Red or white wine Sangria will complement this dish well. And why not stay in tradition and go with a Spanish varietal. (pro tip: get really into it and talk with a lisp for the real Spanish effect.)
This is my ‘death row meal.’ If you don’t know what that is, it means I would choose this as my last meal. Ever. They’re that good. Milanesas are originally from Europe (exact location is unknown since both Austrians and Italians want the credit), but the Argentineans are the ones who made them famous. Thinly sliced breaded steak filets with mashed potatoes and veggies of your choice and you have yourself a dish that is the closest thing to perfection as it gets. The best part about making these at home is that, for some magical reason, homemade Milanesas are ALWAYS better.
Drink Pairing: MALBEC! Similar to the Carmènére, the fruity flavors and medium body of this varietal complement any beef dish splendidly. The added bonus is that you stay in the Argentinean theme. All you’re missing is a Leo Messi jersey. Unless you already have one; in which case, we should be besties.