Why I don’t dine out on Valentine’s Day, and you shouldn’t either.
I avoid dining out on Valentine’s Day. With few exceptions, restaurants are packed with starry-eyed lovers ordering off of prix fixe menus with cloyingly sweet and often watery cocktail offerings, cheap champagne and the Cosmopolitan being the most egregious of these, in my book. The servers and kitchen are overtaxed trying to run a fast turn-over service to a bunch of people who are too busy groping each other under the tablecloth to really enjoy the meal.
My girlfriends Sangiovese and Saketini argue that Valentine’s Day could be considered the epitome of the asshat guy holiday – he can be a complete douche to his girlfriend/wife/partner all year, but shell out some bucks for awful milk chocolates and dinner out and he’s –at least temporarily- redeemed himself. Why can’t a guy just be nice, generous and considerate all the time? I’m convinced, gals. You’ve got my vote.
My husband, The Macallan, and I usually go out the weekend before or after, preferably on a Sunday night, and enjoy a leisurely meal accompanied by an attentive server and an excellent wine list. On V Day itself, I prepare a simple dinner at home, and enjoy a sassy hot pink dirty martini while I’m making it. The Macallan can totally grope me after I’ve had one (or two) of these and the kids have been excused from the table.
Oh! You Sexy Beets Dirty Martini
If you haven’t canned up your own Sexy Beets with Cipollini onions (below), use very good quality spicy artisanal beets from your Farmer’s Market, or do a quick pickle the day before with a beet or two boiled in the spicy brine. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to use (at least overnight and up to 3 weeks). I like the icy film on the top of the martini created by the shaking method, but it’s very good stirred, as well.
In a cocktail shaker with a few cubes of ice add:
2 oz. gin
¼ oz. dry vermouth
¼ oz. spicy beet pickling juice
Shake, then strain into a martini glass. Garnish with skewered segment of beet and a pickled cipollini onion.
Nice Cans, Gal!: Pickled Sexy Beets & Cipollini Onions
My friend Peppermint Schnapps says beets taste like ass. Since I’m not going to ask her whose ass she’s been sampling, I can only guess that the only beets she’s tasting are the nasty gluey ones from the grocery shelf cans, or unseasoned over-roasted monsters.
These sassy pickled beets, paired with adorable cipollini onions, are your best bet to win over the most fervent beet-haters. Lovely in an arugula salad with a bit of goat cheese and roasted walnuts, or served on their own for a stunning relish tray. I love them in place of olives for a hot pink dirty martini; add a splash of the spicy brine in place of olive juice and skewer a beet wedge and an onion for your garnish. Fabulous.
Sexy Beets & Cipollini Onions (makes approximately 6 pints)
1 Tbs. dill seed
1 Tbs. black peppercorns
½ cup fresh dill weed (approx.)
2 ½ cups white vinegar
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
8 cups prepared beets (boiled until tender, with skins removed, stemmed)
2 cups prepared cipollini onions (parboiled & plunged in cold water so tough outer skins peel off easily)
1) Prepare canner, jars & lids.
2) For each pint jar (cut amount in half, if using ½ pint jars) add: 1 sprig dill weed, ½ tsp. dill seeds, ½ tsp. black peppercorns
3) Combine vinegar, water, and sugar in a large stainless steel saucepan. Boil until sugar is dissolved. Add beets and onions and return to a boil.
4) Divide beets and onions equally amongst the prepared jars, leaving a generous ½ “ head space at the top of jars. Ladle hot pickling liquid over the beets maintaining a ½” head space. Poke a chop stick around the beets to remove air bubbles and add more liquid if needed.
5) Wipe rims, center lids, screw bands on until fingertip tights.
6) Process covered in a boiling water bath for 30 minutes (adjust for altitude = SLC add 10 minutes)
7) Remove canner lid and turn off heat. Let sit 5 minutes.
8) Remove jars, cool at room temperature, and store.