Valentine's Day- how to get the best seat in the house!

Since we are getting close to Valentine's Day, I wanted to write about the mass exodus that takes place every February 14 to every steakhouse, bistro, cafe and even pancake house that is not a fast food restaurant. If you want to eat with your best date at your favorite restaurant you have to make reservations months in advance, you will be elbow to elbow with every other couple that wanted to celebrate Valentine's Day, and the pressure to finish your meal so the next set of sweethearts can have their moment in the sun will be intense (glaring waiters, etc.) Even the best restaurants will be overworked, understaffed and over-stuffed.

I am no expert at how best to celebrate Valentine's Day, but after 32 years of marriage (yes, to the same man!) and six children (of course they all have the same father!) I can tell you some of the best Valentine's Day meals have been at home. Okay, yes that does mean that someone has to cook, but at least you know you will have the best seat in the house! I usually stick to something simple and elegant- baby lamb chops, filet with crabmeat, crabcakes or even lobster tail (you can buy the fixin's for a whole lobster dinner for two for what you will pay for drinks and an appetizer at a restaurant!), wild rice or rice pilaf or even garlic roasted potatoes and a nice salad). If it is too much work it is hard to be romantic. For dessert, buy a nice tiramisu or chocolate cake or make a Grown-Up sundae (recipe below).

The last two years we have set up a folding round table that we keep for extra guests, in our living room by the fire, and my children (the ones who are still at home and those who don't have Valentine's plans of their own or are not babysitting) have set an elegant table with crystal and silver and candles. We made a fire in the fireplace and were served by some of the cutest waitresses you would ever want to see (albeit 12 and 17 years old at the time). We had a long and leisurely meal in the home that we made together served by some of the children we made together - could anything be more romantic?

Okay, so you don't want to cook for yourself and don't mind spending money, but don't want the clank of dishes and silverware to detract from your Valentine's Day meal. What else can you do? Try a bed and breakfast or a higher end hotel, check in for the night and order room service; now that's a treat. Or if you are in a good-sized city, chances are you could hire a personal chef for the night to make you a great meal that you won't have to share with anyone else and at about the same cost as a meal at a very fine restaurant. How about picking up your favorite take-out (or better yet, your sweetie's favorite), spreading out a tablecloth and cushions on the floor and having a romantic picnic meal? Be creative, and let me know about unique ways that you have found to have a romantic meal together. I can always use a new idea!

Grown -Up Sundae

Top a scoop of premium coffee ice cream with crushed Heath bar (or toffee chips) and drizzle a tablespoon or two of Kahlua or Godiva liqueur over the top.

You can vary this based on your tastes: Vanilla ice cream with framboise and fresh raspberries;
Mint chocolate chip ice cream with crushed chocolate wafers and Creme de Menthe; you get the picture - make up your own.... and then let me know how it turned out!