Yesterday, as usual, we stayed in. This is, after all, the best restaurant in town and it’s hard for me to justify braving the weather, traffic, and crazy drivers to spend a lot of money on a meal that’s not as good as the meal that I would have made at home.
I wanted to make something nice but not ostentatious for Valentine’s Day so I prepared a dinner of roasted shrimp, pan-browned asparagus with cherry tomatoes and garlic, champagne, and a dessert of Mississippi Mud cake (bakery-made) and mint chocolate chip ice cream. I had never roasted shrimp before but they turned out very nice. I’d be hesitant to try it with anything smaller than colossal grade shrimp (8-12 per pound). I left the shrimp in their shells, cut the shells with kitchen shears and cleaned them, and brined them for a half hour before roasting them, carefully placed upright on a rack in a quick oven. I basted them with melted butter and dusted them with a Moroccan spice combination I happened to have on hand.
For the asparagus I sauteed the tomatoes in olive oil until they began to break down, added a bit of garlic and sauteed that for just under a minute and then set that aside. I blanched the asparagus in water for a few minutes, drained it, and pan-browned it in a bit of olive oil for five or six minutes, adding the tomatoes and garlic just before serving to warm them.
As is my usual practice, I built my menu around things that were on sale.
After dinner we exchanged cards and I gave my wife some nice European chocolate. Not candy—just chocolate. She doesn’t like incidentals like nuts, nougat, caramel, or fruit getting in the way of the central chocolate.