Editor’s Note: Each week, Life & Thyme contributors are trotting the globe, taking in the sights and turning over all kinds of culinary stones for future stories. In our new weekly Off the Menu series, we ask for their favorite food-related finds from all over––and share them here. This week’s edition is all about how to treat yourself on a day that is all about love.
I’ve always been a big fan of cooking-at-home on Valentine’s Day…and nothing tends to get my nearest and dearest more excited than homemade macaroni and cheese.
Of all the recipes I’ve tried, my favorite is Smitten Kitchen‘s adaptation of a New York Times recipe, which doesn’t require you to pre-cook the pasta. Cooking the macaroni directly in cheesy liquid yields a great texture…and if you add in some swiss chard or kale, you’ll feel even better about helping yourself to a second serving.
The basement-level dining room of Sotto is one of the moodiest (read: sexiest) in Los Angeles. When I feeling like treating myself, I head there to order a delicious plate of pasta and a cocktail. This is the Dream Within A Dream, a fragrant play on the gin martini.
I’m a woman of simple pleasures and although I know chocolates are more traditional, my palate prefers salty flavors. So my ideal Valentine’s treat is a big ol’ stack of extra-crispy Niman Ranch Uncured Double Applewood Smoked Bacon & a chilled bottle of one of my favorite dry bottles of bubbly, Comte de Noblens Cuvée Rosé Brut.
I’m in Spain and Catalunya right now, researching for stories and visiting my husband’s family. Whenever I’m here, I like to sample the latest and greatest of Catalunya’s natural wine. The pink color of Partida Creus’ Sumoll pét-nat made me think nothing could be more appropriate for celebrating Valentine’s Day!
And the second is from a few days ago. I was in Andalucia, visiting with arguably the best jamón ibérico producer in Spain, Cinco Jotas. Nothing says love like a plate of jamón ibérico de bellota.
This Valentine’s, I decided to pre-make a batch of Botanica’s caraway date pumpkin seed granola so (the babe and) I could enjoy a leisurely morning in bed. The time saved not making a pile of pancakes or stack of waffles means more minutes sipping coffee (that the babe contributed) and reading cookbooks published in the 18th century. That early romantic light sure helps set the mood, too!
So for Valentine’s Day rather than “treat myself” I was able to treat my beautiful wife to this fantastic dessert from Chef Lori Sauer and Crafted Baked Goods. A Vanilla Mousse with Strawberry, Raspberry, Finger Lime and White Chocolate. Attached is the before and after shots :)