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February is for Football, Food, and French Dinners By: Anne Valgoi

Happy February all!  This month we have back-to-back entertaining opportunities.  The Super Bowl is an exciting event each year and a most celebrated affair.  It is a time to gather casually with friends and family.

If you are hosting this year, feel free to present your favorite dips etc. but I suggest something a little more special.  In addition to your usual, consider serving a dish which is representative of the areas where both opposing football teams hail from.  Cincinnati is well known for its fabulous chili which features a delicious Mediterranean-spiced meat sauce. Additionally, think about providing something authentic from the Los Angeles area.  Food trucks are extremely popular here so embellish your spread with savory tacos or Japanese sushi.  Even though I am not favoring one team over the other during this Super Bowl, I wanted to offer you suggestions with a variety of flavors featuring hometown delights!

This year Valentine’s Day falls on the very next day after Super Bowl Sunday.  You may have celebrated early as my family did.  Valentine’s Day is a special time to show your love and to say thank you to the significant people that surround you!  Instead of the customary romantic dinner at our favorite restaurant where the food can be mediocre on this busy holiday and the service is usually below expectations, we decided to celebrate with family whom we have not seen in over six months.  We participated in a lovely progressive dinner which featured a delectable five course menu- French, of course!  The French are well known for their romance, so the theme was perfect.  A beautiful table-scape was created and featured lovely arrangements of pink roses and light pink/white lisianthus with silver vases of various sizes and silver accents pieces.

Our second table creation highlighted a long center arrangement of natural bark pieces that had aged beautifully and displayed romantic silver tones.  White mini lights and thin white candles were graciously arranged throughout the artistic grouping.  Lastly, a compact vase of pink roses and petals were added to complete the focal point.

The mood was set with French music and the food was sophisticated and deliciously prepared by several family individuals.  My sister-in-law carefully selected the menu, and it began with a scrumptious mini croque monsieur appetizer.  This course gave the guests time to mix and mingle before the seated portion of the dinner.  The next dish featured a fresh, French green salad which was dressed in an authentic homemade vinaigrette.  We thoughtfully paired this with a reasonably priced French white wine which possessed beautiful notes of peaches, pears and citrus. This course and wine pairing had the guests excited with anticipation of what was to follow….

Each successive dish was prepared by different attendees of the party.  Next, we were served a heavenly potato leek soup (https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/everybody-potato-leek-soup).  The recipe was a favorite and was selectively paired with a 2020 Cotes-du-Rhone “Poignee de Raisins” Domaine Gramenon. The soup and the wine were a perfect match.

The conversation was lively as we enjoyed catching up with each other and after a while we were treated with the main entrée which consisted of Steak Diane with Asparagus. The meat was prepared beautifully, and the mushroom reduction sauce was exquisite. This course was the highlight of the evening, and the chef took delight as we commented (http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/steak-diane). The dish was paired with a delicious red wine from Saint-Emilion (Bordeau) area of France, Le Colombier de la Metairie 2016.

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Dessert completed our menu as I was in charge of preparing an elegant yet simple recipe, Roasted Caramelized Pears which I served with a dollop of Crème Fraiche and a hint of dark chocolate shavings.  It was pure deliciousness and one that I will surely serve again in the near future.

This Valentine’s season please take some time to celebrate your LOVE for each other through thoughtful gifts, acts of kindness, or something a little different such as a progressive, French Dinner experience!  Wishing our readers and followers much love and happiness…..

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