Whether it’s for an old flame, a new flame, or a not-quite-yet flame, we all want to impress in the kitchen on Valentine’s Day. There is nothing that quite screams “what a catch” like mastering a mouth-watering meal for two while managing not to burn your house to the ground. And the best news is that this year Valentine’s Day is on a Friday, which means you can crack open a bottle or two with your beloved guilt-free.
I’ve matched some great Jamie recipes with some gorgeous wines to make your evening in all the better.
So make a plan to re-distribute any children, housemates or demanding pets and settle in for a night dedicated to good food, good wine and a splash of good old-fashioned romance.
Cooked oysters with burnt butter
1. Oyster haters, look away now! These little beauties are the no.1 way to get your evening going. There are so many ways to prepare and enjoy oysters, but my absolute favourite for a romantic night in is cooking them in butter and a splash of tabasco as shown in the recipe below. This is also the best option if you love oysters but are a little nervous about eating them raw.
The indisputable soulmate of oysters is champagne. Pour your lover a glass of ice-cold, biscuity bubbles (blancs de blancs is the best for this if you can get it) and enjoy the magical combination of the salty, creamy oysters with a hit of citrus to cut through all the butteriness of the dish.
(If you’re unsure which bubbles to go for, take a look at my quick go-to-guide for bubbles.)
2. Gennaro’s spaghetti alla puttanesca
To be honest, I’d eat this every day if I could. To me, it’s the ultimate comfort food but it’s also fantastic for valentines day because it’s so super easy and if you put a bit of love into the presentation, it’s a really impressive looking dish. Also, that kick of chilli is proven to stimulate the release of endorphins and get your heart going, perfect for a night-in for two!
Because it’s a dish that is both light yet packs a punch, you can go for either a white or a red wine. A handy tip if you’re ever struggling to think of a wine to go with a certain dish is this: does the recipe come from a particularly distinct geographical region? If so, it’s hard to go wrong with a wine from the same place, given that it matches the weight of the dish you’re eating. Spaghetti all Putanesca has strong ties to Campania in Italy which boasts beauties such as the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii. In the UK, Campanian wines aren’t sold so widely as other Italian wines but that’s not because they’re not deserving of similar accolades. If you can get it, Fiano is a great variety which hails from just east of Naples and produces an intensely flavoured wine with distinct apple, hazelnut and smokey notes which squeeze in happily alongside the acidity coming from the tomatoes and olives in the dish.
3. The perfect steak and vinegar roasties
If you’re one of those people that don’t believe steak is the way to a good man’s/woman’s heart then you need to start believing. One of the first meals my fiance ever cooked me was almost identical to this recipe and as they say, the rest is history.
You are completely spoilt for choice when it comes to finding the right wine to match with your steak. The common preference is a red but there are also a some key white contenders worth a try too.
If you’re planning on having your steak quite rare as per the recipe, you might want to consider a lighter red such as a pinot noir to match the beautifully decadent meat. Made World famous by French homeland in Burgundy, whose pinots boast delicate aromas of earth and roses, it’s easy to overlook other pinot noir producing regions but this would be a mistake.
The USA is producing some beautiful pinots at the moment both in California and Oregon. Generally speaking you can expect luscious fruit flavours including raspberry and sweet black cherry with hits of vanilla from Californian pinots whilst pinots from Oregon are slightly lighter and more savoury in flavour, with hints of cranberry and even hints of truffle. New Zealand’s pinots are another a-lister in the wine world, offering wines not too dissimilar from its Californian cousin but with enhanced spice and gamey aromas. Italian pinots (Pinot Nero in Italian) are a different kettle of fish altogether due to the cooler climate and present smokey, white pepper characteristics, a World away from their new world counterparts.
If you fancy a white, try a fuller bodied white such as a Marsanne or viognier. Both from the Rhone valley which reaches soaring temperatures over the growing season, these wines are bursting with bold flavours; Marsanne with playful honeysuckle, lemon and mineral tones whilst viognier has a beautifully velvety, almost oily texture which will stand up to your cote de boeuf with ease.
4. Best morning-after breakfast
If you are a one of those few, precious people that has leftover bubbles on Saturday morning (personally, I’ve never met any of those people) then do yourself a favour and cook your loved one a breakfast they won’t forget. Whether you’ve got leftover cava, prosecco or champagne, add a little fruit juice and carry on the party.