Valentine's Recap in Pictures

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Many of you probably spent a romantic Valentine's Evening at a fine restaurant, supping on foie gras and fine wine. And that's all good. But here's an alternate view of Valentine's Day - a less expensive option for leaner times. This simple meal of salad, cheeses, good olives, fresh bread, and wine involves almost zero cooking, very minimal prep time, and the flavors you get will rival the best of restaurants. It's what I did on Saturday evening, and it's a plan that by no means expires after February 14th. You could recreate this exitre sensual experience -- for under $25 I might add -- any night of the year. Just add loved one.

Click any picture for a larger, more erotic version.

Start off with a wedge of delicious mold-rippened goat's milk cheese, like Humboldt Fog from Cypress Grove Chevre out of California. This piece cost just $5 at Whole Foods, and was deliciously rich, nutty, and creamy, with a runny, brie-like texture close to the rind followed by a smooth, earthy interior. We spread it on slices of hot, fresh french bread and topped that with...

Artisan sun-dried tomatoes, also from Whole Foods, a small smattering of which ran us about $1.50. Is there a more classic combination that sun-dried tomatoes and good goat cheese?

Some mixed black and green olives, also from Whole Foods, cost just $4 for nearly a half pound. Perfect for playfully popping into your date's mouth. 

The Pièce de résistance: a simple caprese salad made with halved exotic, orange, yellow, plum and cherry tomatoes, generous half-inch sections of buffalo milk mozzarella, fresh basil from the garden, a steady stream of extra virgin olive oil, cracked pepper, kosher salt, and (here's the kicker) slivers of super-hot serano chili. Total cost - $10 (provided you've got the oil, salt, and pepper handy). The serano was seven cents. If that salad pictured above doesn't make your date want to shag your dirty bones, I don't know what will.   

Add a split of Grgich Hills Napa Valley Chardonnay (it's what I had around; wasn' bad!), some seedless red grapes, and a few handfuls of raw almonds, and things get warm and fuzzy. Enjoy, lovers.

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