Celebrations, Love, and Emotional Blackmail

Last night we celebrated my dear, dear friend's birthday and it was a fantastic night.  She has been in my life for more than 20 years and I cannot even fathom my life without her.  Her birthday falls on Valentine's weekend and it has become a tradition that we get together and celebrate it.  She is an amazing woman that has always been a source of inspiration to me.  Her ambition, strength, and capacity to love and persevere are among my favorite things about her.  That and she loves to sing as much as I do and after we have had a few glasses of champagne it becomes a necessity for us to sing.  The guys always love that.  She also is one of the VERY few women in my life that I am able to have a truly honest and open relationship with and that has been a learning experience for us both.  There are not many folks I can have the courage to say what I really feel and know that my vulnerability will be met with love and acceptance.  We have had some rocky roads in the past and she has taught me how to be a better friend and to recognize which relationships are ones worth digging in for. 
Last night I pulled out the stops and did a five course meal that was a tweaked familiar menu and it turned out marvelously.  I come back to the corvina fish because the flavor is comparable to the sea bass without the guilt and cost.  It flakes beautifully and holds up to whatever sauce you are feeling.   I had a couple of new wines on the menu that were lovely.  One of which, Orin Swift "The Prisoner", was a crazy splurge that my momma surprised me with as a "Happy Birthday Party" present.  We had it at Jack Fry's a few weeks ago and loved it.  It is a blend (I believe a Zinfandel and Syrah but don't quote me), which I am becoming a bigger fan of all the time.  The Pinot was a nice surprise.  My instructions were a big white that could deal with the garlic and bitterness of the greens.  It had a great honey/pear thing going on that worked nicely with the fish course.  Dessert didn't need to be a duo, but I am a chocolate girl and while the birthday girl requested the pears, they don't hold a birthday candle as well as the torte.  Steven made the torte and it was divine, of course.  He's got that magic baking juju.  Luckily we had paced ourselves throughout the night and were ready for the duo by the time we arrived there.  

First Tasting
Sizzling Mussels- Raspberry Champagne Cocktails (Mumm Cuvee)

Kentucky Mixed Baby Greens with a Raspberry Vinaigrette and Parmesan Wafers- Veuve Cliquot Champagne, France

  Fish Course
Pan Seared Corvina with Hollandaise on a bed of Garlicky Winter Greens - Bott Geyl Pinot d'Alsace, France

Meat Course
Kentucky Grass-fed Lamb Chops with a Red Wine reduction, Wild Mushroom, Leek, and Truffle Risotto- The Prisoner, Orin Swift, Napa Valley

Dessert Duo
Caramelized Pears with Dulce le Leche Ice Cream
Eagle Rare Chocolate Torte  

As we all know, this is VALENTINE's WEEKEND.  The weekend of the year when every company that can make a buck off of emotional blackmail will do it.  I have always HATED Valentine's Day.  In college we started calling it VD for short.  I have a hard time with the greeting card/candy/jewelry industry telling me when I need to pay attention to the people that I love.  Now I have had some rather gorgeous Valentine's day festivities in the past.  But they have all been spontaneous and a great surprise.  There is such pressure on everyone to produce; "take her breath away" jewelry, hearts filled with chocolate, $80 a dozen for roses- really?!.  It makes me twitchy.  I would hope that my loves all know daily how much I love and appreciate them.  If not, I will work harder to be better.  But certainly not because my florist tells me to.  I really do love love despite my cyber eye-rolling.  And love the simple surprises that I give and have been given.  Last night I received chocolate covered Peep hearts.  Earlier in the week, petit fours, cupcakes and a fabulous handmade card.  It is really nice to be remembered in some way, but the hype is a bit much.  We will be low key here tomorrow.  OK my rant is done.

It is 60 degrees here and in spite of my determination to be in the garden today, all of the wine consumed last night got the better of me and I opted for a nap instead after the monumental clean up.  Luckily it is going to get warmer all week.  I will be out there for sure.  I could smell spring this afternoon.  I can't wait.  Happy VD, my loves.   


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