While some years call for a big Valentine’s dinner out where you get dressed up and hit the town, this is not one of those years for us. We’ve had such a busy few weeks that what’s really calling my name is a chill date night at home, just the two of us after we put Phoebe and Henry to bed.
For me, the most romantic nights with Adam are when we’re cozied up in front of the fireplace with blankets and a glass of wine, with good music that lets us get totally lost in the easy vibes and conversation.And isn’t there something kind of refreshing about Valentine’s plans that don’t require booking a babysitter or breaking the bank? For me at this moment, that just feels so right. But just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it should feel like every other normal night at home.
What I love about Valentine’s Day is that it’s a holiday solely devoted to making the people we love feel special — finding little ways to say “you matter so much to me,” and I happen to be married to a guy who hears that message loudest through his stomach.I thought I’d use this post as the perfect excuse to give our Valentine’s date night menu a test run, and hopefully give you guys some inspiration and ideas for your own romantic dinners. There’s a new restaurant in town called The Peacock, located inside the Austin Proper Hotel. It’s one of the first “cool” (ie not hole-in-the-wall) truly Mediterranean spots we’ve had open up in town, with a menu full of colorful, healthy dishes inspired by North Africa, Greece, Israel & Lebanon – all meant for sharing. Since it’s mine and Adam’s current fave spot for a date night, that Mediterranean vibe felt like the perfect theme to tie together my table and menu. Plus, I’ve been dying to try out a homemade falafel recipe. There’s something about low, lounge-y table surrounded by floor cushions that just feels sexy. You’ve got to kick off your shoes and sit close, and you might even recline while your partner slowly feeds you… but I digress. For this simple setup, I moved our outdoor coffee table right in front of the fire, pulled out some cushions and sheepskins from indoors, and used some of our potted succulents as an easy centerpiece that doesn’t feel fussy. Besides, I didn’t want to buy flowers for the table since Adam might come home from work with an armful of peonies (not that I’m shamelessly dropping hints, or anything.) These pretty plates gave an earthy backdrop to my colorful menu, and the matte black flatware provided a touch of cool contrast.
A fun cocktail is an easy way to take things up on a notch from a typical dinner at home. I’ve been loving shrub cocktails lately — they’re basically drinks made with infused vinegar, which sounds weird, but the vinegr actually provides a delicious acidity and a little fizziness. That said, I wanted to do something with strawberry flavor for V-day, and since I couldn’t find any strawberry-infused vinegar, I freestyled and grabbed some strawberry kombucha. I mixed my cocktail with 1 part kombucha, 1 part prosecco, and garnished with a cucumber spear and a sprig of mint. NEW FAVORITE y’all, it was seriously so good. And now I’m obsessed with making cocktails using different kombuchas (this past weekend I added a splash of tequila to my lime-ginger kombucha and it was also amaze.) Here’s what’s on the menu for our Valentine’s Date Night:
- Love Hummus with warm pita and veggies for dipping (keep scrolling for the recipe)
- Cauliflower Tabbouleh with Pomegranates and Pistachios
- Herby Green Chickpea Falafel with Crunchy Cucumber Salad and Tzatziki
- a bar of Honey Mama’s Cacao for dessert. This is my absolute favorite new thing after I had it at Shelly Armistead’s house on my LA trip a couple weeks back, and I’m planning to pick up a bar of the Lavender Red Rose, ’cause #Valentines.
- Roast 4 small beets by wrapping them in foil and popping in a 450 degree oven until you can pierce them easily with a fork, about an hour.
- Let cool, then peel by rubbing skin with a paper towel.
- In a blender, combine a container of good store-bought hummus with 2 beets and a little olive oil and blend until smooth. Add another beet or 2 to get desired color.
- Drizzle with EVOO and sprinkle with sesame seeds, then serve with warm pita and crunchy veg for dipping.