Exciting news everyone! I was asked by my friends at SFMOMA Artists Gallery to participate in their first guest blog challenge! What was the challenge you might ask? To create a menu using some of the artwork they have displayed currently! Click here to see the post! Since February 14th is just around the corner I figured I would create a rosemantical menu, plus hand out some other tips for those taking on the town…
- the salt & pepper guide to surviving Valentine’s Day -
Valentine’s Day… Funny how two little words can induce such varied responses: warm fuzzy feelings, excitable squeals, vacant expressions, angry rants about commercialism and how it’s a hallmark holiday, indifference, panic, loneliness… You name it, someone is feeling that way when it comes to this rosemantical day. Don’t worry, I know rosemantical is not an actual word. But I like it anyways. And will use it often.
No matter what camp you fall into, it’s hard to ignore that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. With conversation hearts and red & pink exploding everywhere you look, this day is pretty much unavoidable. But fret not… I have a plan for you and am going to help make this Valentine’s Day as painless and fun as possible. And since it is late in the game, no reservations required. I would have ignored the fancy schmancy, seven-course, prix fixe, mediocre service, ultra expensive restaurants anyways – I’m not a fan, so they don’t belong in my guide.
For the Valentine’s-Averse Crowd who still want to head out for the night… I suppose I fall into this crowd, as I will be spending my Valentine’s evening at the restaurant I’m about to suggest – Beretta, located in the Mission on Valencia and 23rd. Yes, it is dimly lit and cozy, but the rosemantical aspects stop there. They don’t take reservations for any parties under five people so you will have to wait. And possibly wait some more. But it’s okay, because they have the best cocktails in town. It’s probably the only place I don’t order bubbles, my normal drink of choice. My favorite? The Dolores Park Swizzle, a snow cone for adults concocted with rum, lime, absinthe, and bitters, topped with a sprig of mint & a drizzle of maraschino liqueur. Usually, if it’s just D & me, we try to snag a coveted spot at the bar, and if we’re lucky we’ll end up staying put for our whole meal. I prefer to sit at the bar, but that’s just me. Last year, we went to Beretta with another couple and we’re doing the same this year… I guess it’s becoming a V-day tradition! Plus, the food is perfect for sharing… I think my favorite part of dining at Beretta is their amazing selection of appetizers… the bruschette with brocolli rabe is a must, the eggplant caponatina with burrata has such a delicious combination of flavors and textures, and I love the herb onion bread with extra virgin olive oil served warm from the oven. Yum, I’m excited for Monday!
Other suggestions: Rose’s on Union, Out the Door on Bush followed by a movie at the Kabuki Theater, or Delarosa on Chestnut with two movie theater options for afterwards, the bar at Absinthe…
For the rosemantical but practical couple who want to ignore the masses and relax at home… If I didn’t have my Beretta plans I’d most likely be staying in and cooking a lovely but fuss free meal for my honey bunny. Here’s what the menu would be:
Grissini with Arugula & Prosciutto served with your favorite bubbly
(my choice would be the Iron Horse Wedding Cuvee)
10 grissini (breadsticks)
½ cup grated pecorino romano
2 cups arugula, roughly chopped
10 thin slices of prosciutto (have it freshly sliced… so much better)
Take each breadstick, roll lightly in butter on one end (maybe 2-3 inches or so) and dip in pecorino romano so the cheese sticks to the butter. Then take thin slices of prosciutto, top with a small amount of the roughly chopped arugula, then roll the prosciutto around the breadstick, enclosing as much of the arugula as possible. Serve in a glass so all the grissini are standing straight up.
Insalata Tricolore a la Pizzeria Delfina
1 head Belgian endive, sliced
2 handfuls arugula
½ head of radicchio, sliced
grana padano cheese
shake the following ingredients in a small container:
juice of ½ a meyer lemon
½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ cup olive oil
¼ tsp salt & ¼ tsp pepper
Arrange the arugula, endive & radicchio in three separate sections on a long plate. Drizzle with the dressing & use a vegetable peeler to slice long shards of grano padano (pecorino romano or parmigiano reggiano would be fine too!) over the top.
Filet Mignon w/ Crispy Oven Roasted Fingerling Potatoes & Sautéed Spinach
1 pound fingerling potatoes, halved or quartered
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss potatoes in the olive oil, salt & pepper. Spread out on a baking sheet and bake for 30- 40 minutes, or until crispy.
2 8 oz filet mignon
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp coarsely ground pepper
2 tbsp butter
Fifteen minutes after you put the potatoes in the oven, pat the steaks dry with a paper towel, and season both sides of each steak with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet (a seasoned cast iron is ideal here, but not required!) over high heat, add the olive oil and heat for a couple of minutes. Add the steaks (listen for the sizzle!) and sear for approximately two minutes each side – top, bottom, then the rest of the sides. Top each steak with a tablespoon of butter, and pop into the oven for 8-10 minutes, depending on how you like your steak cooked. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes.
1 bag prewashed spinach
1 tablespoon of olive oil
¼ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper
While the steak is resting, heat up the olive oil in a pan over medium low heat. Add the entire bag of spinach and toss in the olive oil with salt and pepper. The spinach will slowly start to wilt. Cook for 3-4 minutes and then remove from heat.
Plate each steak with half the spinach & a large scoop of potatoes. Serve with a glass of your favorite red wine… we would probably choose a Grenache as that’s D’s fav!
Sweets for your Sweet
Individual Chocolate Bread & Butter Puddings
3 slices good quality white bread
3.5 oz dark chocolate
2 tbsp butter
2/3 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp rum
2½ tbsp sugar
¼ tsp vanilla
small pinch cinnamon
1 1/3 cup whipping cream (for serving)
You’ll want to start this the night before so it has time to sit… and you’ll need two 7 oz sized ramekins so you each have your own personal portion!
Begin by removing the crusts from the slices of bread and cut each slice into small triangles. Next, place the chocolate, whipping cream, rum, sugar, vanilla, butter and cinnamon in a bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, being careful not to let the bowl touch the water. Stir occasionally until the butter and chocolate have melted and the sugar has completely dissolved. Next, remove the bowl from the heat and give it a really good stir to amalgamate all the ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and then pour the chocolate mixture over them and whisk again very thoroughly to blend them together. Now you can start assembling each pudding. Spoon a thin layer of the chocolate mixture into the base of the dish and arrange as many bread triangles over the chocolate as possible. Pour some more chocolate, and continue arranging the bread triangles. Keep going so you finish with a layer of chocolate. Use a fork to press the bread gently down so that it gets covered very evenly with the liquid as it cools. Cover the dish with tin foil and allow to stand at room temperature for 2 hours before transferring it to the fridge overnight. On Valentine’s Day when you’re almost ready for dessert, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 20-30 minutes. Remove the foil after 20 minutes so you end up with a top that is crunchy and the inside is gooey and squidgy. Let it stand for 5 minutes and serve with a healthy dollop of whipped cream (just whip the remaining cream using a hand or stand mixer until stiff). Enjoy!
For the host(ess) with the most(ess) who has no problem hosting their nearest and dearest… Do you remember when In Style used to have the Party Guides in every issue? I used to eagerly await each month’s magazine so I could devour every word and idea, then rip out and save with all the others I had collected. I still have them all… dorky! One of the first ones I can remember was for a Valentine’s Day Fondue Party – so genius. Invite everyone you know, no one has to stress over what to plan for their significant other, the single men & ladies have something fun to do and who knows, might just meet someone… everyone’s happy! If you do want a little help from your friends, an other party idea could be a wine and cheese night – have everyone bring a bottle of their favorite red, white, or bubbly with a cheese that pairs beautifully. Same concept for a cocktail party – have everyone pick a cocktail and bring the necessary mixings. Then just set up a bar with a selection of salumi, cheese, olives, bread & some chips & dips – you’ll have some very happy friends.
For the true rosemantic who simply forgot to make a reservation for their sweetie… What a predicament. You don’t want your sweetie to know you forgot, but you don’t want to end up at some cheesy restaurant where they hand all the ladies a red rose and have heart confetti on every table. Bleh. Luckily for you San Francisco has ample rosemantical, but creative, ‘no ressie’ restaurants to choose from. You may have to wait but at least you’ll be a great spot with delicious food. And yes, some of these do take reservations, but they also reserve a certain area for walk-ins. Suppenkuche. Magnolia Pub. Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack. Gialina. Flour & Water. Woodhouse Fish Co. Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. Brazen Head. Burma Superstar. Pizzeria Delfina. I wish you luck.
**UPDATE** I just found out that Pizzeria Delfina has a special Valentine’s Day meal option – spaghetti & meatballs a la Lady & the Tramp for $40! This will score points with your significant other because their meatballs are the best I’ve had here in the city. Plus, if you decide on the Mission location you could always end your evening at Bi-Rite Creamery for the best ice cream in town!
For the single ladies heading out in loud raucous groups… Tacolicous in the Marina has a Valentine’s ‘prix fixe’ special this year for $20 – a filet mignon taco & a lobster taco washed down with a shot of tequila topped with bubbly, followed by a Mexican truffle. And since Tacolicous is already loud with lots of raucous marina-ites, a large group of girls will only add to the fun. And their chips & salsa are sooo good. And Jack the bartender is really nice. He’ll take good care of you all.
Other suggestions: Umami, Mamacitas, Harry’s Bar, Americano, District, and Twenty Five Lusk
For the men who want to hit on the single ladies heading out in loud raucous groups… please see above. If they’re not at Tacolicous try the next spot on the list.
And for the romantic at heart who just wants an easy and cozy night in… A simple but delicious meal for one, perfect for eating on the couch with a glass of red wine, while watching their favorite movie:
Spaghetti alla Carbonara
¼ lb spaghetti
1 ½ inch thick slice of pancetta (1 oz)
1 garlic clove, crushed or finely diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 glass of bubbly(3oz-ish)
freshly grated pecorino romano or pamigiano-reggiano cheese (1/2 cup, plus extra to finish with)
freshly ground salt & pepper
handful of basil, chopped
Boil water in large pot. While water is boiling cut pancetta into small cubes. Heat the olive oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add the garlic & pancetta and cook until crispy (should take 5 minutes max). Deglaze the pan with the bubbles (white wine is perfectly okay too!) – pour the glass into the pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape all the leftover pancetta bits from the bottom. Remove from heat. Your water should be boiling by now, so throw in a handful of salt then add spaghetti & stir until the spaghetti softens slightly. In a separate bowl crack the egg, grate in your choice of cheese, grind some pepper & salt (maybe two grinds of salt & three of pepper, if we’re being specific). Test pasta after 8-9 minutes – take a bite, it should feel ever so slightly firm in the middle of each strand, aka al dente. If it’s not, cook for a minute or two longer. Once al dente, drain the water away and add cooked spaghetti to your bowl with the egg mixture. Toss the spaghetti in the egg mixture – the heat from pasta will cook the egg mixture, but you need to keep tossing so the eggs don’t scramble. Sounds scary, don’t worry – just keep stirring and you’ll be fine! It probably will only take a couple of minutes until the pasta is coated fully by the egg mixture. Add the pancetta and toss some more. Taste to see if you need any more salt. Serve in a large flat bowl, and finish with some more freshly ground pepper, cheese & basil on top. Eat ravenously.
I would also suggest planning ahead and stopping by Miette at the Ferry Building on your way home… the perfect choice for dessert. My favorites are the pot de crème, the mini scharffen berger and the lime meringue tartlet. And, since it’s V-day you are perfectly justified if you want to bring all three home with you.
Oh, and just in case you were wondering, my movie choices would be You’ve Got Mail, The Fifth Element, Love Actually (even though I usually reserve this one for Christmastime), the first X-Men, Mean Girls, or Cruel Intentions… hey, this is a hypothetical night home alone, so no judgments!!
Enjoy your Valentine’s Day, however you may spend it!