Time is running out, my cupids and cupidesses, so today I will show you six ways to Valentine's Day.
The most obvious thing to do is make a dinner reservation at a nice restaurant then invest in some combination of flowers, chocolates, silk undergarments and a greeting card — not necessarily in that order.
As far as dining out is concerned, OpenTable.com recently released its list of the 25 most romantic cities in the U.S., and Oklahoma City ranked fifth thanks to places like The Cellar at Castle Falls, The Melting Pot, Paseo Grill and Opus Prime Steakhouse.
While Oklahoma City's inclusion might surprise you, keep in mind OpenTable's Most Romantic Cities Index was calculated using three variables: The percentage of restaurants rated “romantic” according to OpenTable diner reviews; the percentage of tables seated for two; and the percentage of people who dined out for Valentine's Day last year.
Only San Antonio, St. Louis, Providence, R.I., and Atlantic City, N.J., rated higher than Oklahoma City on the list.
Now for the bad news: If you haven't secured a reservation at any of Open Table's list of romantic local restaurants or even your own favorite secluded rendezvous by now, the pickings might be slim.
1.No. 1 on my list is a trip to Tsubaki, 5900 W Memorial Road, Suite E, for The Heart-Stealer roll. This brand-new sushi and hibachi restaurant on the far northwest corridor is a lovely little spot for dining-in or takeout. If you want to experience the full glory of this heart-shaped roll, plan on sticking around.
2.Sushi is light, bright and oozes romance, but I realize it's not for everyone. If you're looking for a dining experience like no other, consider my No. 2 recommendation: Queen of Sheba, 2308 N Macarthur Blvd., where eating with your hands is not only likely, it's the law. Owner Mimi Younis has been known to confiscate eating utensils at her fine Ethiopian restaurant, but in the case of romance, Mimi told me it's not enough to eat with your hands; you must feed your lover.
“It's the ultimate act of trust,” she said of allowing your beloved to feed you from his/her fingertips.
I do have one other potential Valentine's activity to mention, but I can't yet speak about it from experience because it is so new. The ultra-talented chef Christine Dowd and her partner Maggie Howell, who are proprietors of Aunt PittyPat's Catering, have started A La Minute, which they describe as a culinary flash mob. I haven't yet done an A La Minute event, but I have eaten plenty of chef Dowd's food to vouch that no one will be disappointed. And as it turns out, chef Dowd and Howell have an event planned for 7 p.m. Friday.
For information about this super-exclusive experience, you'll need to go online to alaminute.register110.com or “like” the Facebook page, facebook.com/alaminutemob. The menu and location will be revealed when you register. Only 96 seats are available for this event.
Dining at home
Because Valentine's Day proper falls on Friday, seats at local restaurants will be hard to come by, so I expect there will be a lot of folks destined to dine at home this year and celebrate the holiday out on Saturday or Sunday. That's right — it will be a double Valentine's experience for many.
3.So, for dining at home, consider my No. 3 idea: the heart-shaped steak. Rhett Lake, owner of Rhett's Meat Market, and many other local butchers can hand-carve a full rib-eye into a heart shape large enough to feed two for two days. Lake will even throw in a batch of his famous mashed potatoes and a dusting of his specialty rub developed over two decades at the Indian Hills Steakhouse in Norman, where Lake spent the early part of his career.
Once you've swung by the butcher shop to get your steak, you'll want to make a stop at your local liquor store for a bottle or two (hey, you're not driving anywhere!) of wine.
4.For my No. 4 recommendation, make that bottle something bubbly. Clayton Bahr of Premium Brands Wine and Spirits recommends Charles Casanove, which is French for Casanova. Call your favorite liquor store today to see about reserving a bottle. Of course, as the evening progresses, you'll need to switch to a nice Pinor Noir or Bordeaux to go with a heart-shaped rib-eye, so you might get a recommendation from the store for that as there are many.
When I mentioned that steak, your first thought if you're not blessed with a kitchen that has an indoor grill with a sturdy hood or an outdoor kitchen with sturdy heaters might've been self-preservation.
Simply season your double rib-eye on both sides with salt, pepper and a couple pinches of brown sugar. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees then heat an ovenproof skillet (cast-iron is most dependable) over high heat on the stove until it begins to smoke. Place your heart-shaped rib-eye in the skillet and sear the steak without moving it for a full minute. With a spatula turned upside-down, carefully loosen the steak from the hot surface, then, using the spatula right side up, flip it and let sear another minute. The brown sugar will caramelize and help fortify the sear and leave behind a spiritual flavor experience.
After both sides have seared, wrap the skillet handle in a towel or use an oven mitt to transfer the pan into the heated oven. Let the steak roast two minutes, slide out the rack, flip the steak and roast for another two minutes. If you like your steak a little less rare, roast for three minutes per side.
Pull the skillet and transfer the steak to a cutting board. Let rest at least 10 minutes before cutting into it.
For this occasion, leave the steak whole and carve off slices against the grain a few at a time and consider feeding each other between sips of red wine.
5.My No. 5 idea is honey. Honey works with desserts and entrees as it adapts beautifully to something as decadent as baklava or as salty as french fries and fingertips.
6.Meanwhile, there is the case for dessert. It's entirely possible (and preferred) several dessert courses arise during the evening, and you might even want one or two of them to be edible and a departure from honey. If this is the case, consider making my No. 6 way to Valentine's Day: Whoopee — pies that is.
These heart-shaped red velvet cookies stuffed with cream cheese filling might not be enough to sustain you, but they might kindle a sugar rush just when Valentine's Day appears to be waning. The beauty of this dessert beyond the obvious is that it can be made in advance and requires no last-minute preparation other than the ability to open one's mouth, make yummy noises and ingest the goodness. And the cookies are good, too.
If you don't bake but still want to have some romantic, tasty pastry on hand for your Valentine, check out the bake sale the Francis Tuttle School of Culinary Arts is having. Starting today through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., baked goods specially designed for Valentine's Day will be available at Tut's Cafe. Cravings, the school's bakery and coffee shop, will carry the goodies from 1:30 to 7 p.m. Prices for the items range from $2 to $8, and include mini chocolate and red velvet cakes, hand-dipped chocolates both sweet and savory, macaroons, truffles, toffee hazelnut torte, tosca, jumbo peanut butter cups, chocolate eclairs, caramels, eggnog cookies, and swan cream puffs. Tut's and Cravings are inside the Rockwell campus of Francis Tuttle Technology Center, 12777 N Rockwell Ave.
Valentine's Whoopee Pie
FOR THE COOKIES:
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
3 tablespoons red food coloring
FOR THE FROSTING:
8 ounces cream cheese
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2½ cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
Source: Dave and Lori Cathey