It’s that time of year again– Hallmark stores are overflowing, Kay Jewelers and Tiffany alike, filling all the custom orders, OpenTable sending obnoxious reminders to secure that “coveted table” at an intimate, romantic, lover’s paradise… but there you are, (or perhaps, here I am) without major plans for Valentine’s Day. Certainly no one to spend it with, absolutely no desire to find myself sitting alone amongst starry-eyed couples at one of Portland’s “better restaurants” (sorry Hugo’s, Fore Street, Bresca, and the like– despite how much I love you, I won’t be able to put myself through a self-inflicted hate fest this year– I’ll just have to visit you all in the coming weeks), and on top of that, I’m nauseous at the very sight of “homemade truffles” pink, red, purple, roses, carnations, bottles of Rose, and chocolate covered anything. I’m a hater of all things amorous… and at this point, I’m relatively glad about that. Sure, I like champagne, caviar, pretty little blue Tiffany boxes, and long-stem roses, just as much as the next girl, but I’ve figured that it doesn’t need to be Valentine’s Day in order to enjoy the aforementioned luxuries. I’ll eat caviar any night of the week, and I have no qualms about popping a bottle of Cliquot any afternoon I feel like I need a lift. And as for roses, I wish I hadn’t mentioned them… their fragrance has never been my favorite, and in terms of their aesthetic, I find them to be tacky. So let’s 86 that aspect of Valentine’s Day.
Moving on to the question at hand though… where to eat. If I had my way, I’d have all couples stay home on Valentine’s Day– I mean hey, what’s more sensual and meaningful than cooking together? In fact, that’s my best suggestion to couples this year. Stay in. Learn about one another in the kitchen; make something simple, consume one or two bottles of really nice wine, and then wind down with a bath and a movie or something like that. But who am I kidding? All couples like to treat themselves to a nice evening out.
And on top of that cooking isn’t for everyone, hence the reason why I’ve designed a list of go-to places for people who think that love stinks– or maybe that love rocks– but would prefer going somewhere that isn’t chock-full of couples. I, for one, will most definitely be at one of these very fine establishments on February 14th, 2012. In fact, I’ll even give you a day plan; (if you don’t have the day off, which, I’d assume pertains to most people out there, just pick and choose your favorite tidbits) how about that?
Tuesday, February 14th, 2012: Schedule
Start your morning at Bard Coffee, eat a croissant, drink a breve cortado, people watch- sit at the counter, that will almost ensure not being in the very close proximity of a couple. The single origin coffees cannot be missed, and what else do you need to start your day? A really nice cup of coffee, which I promise you, will be poured at Bard.
Starting after 11:30am, make your way to The Merry Table, this is as about close as you will get to starry-eyed couples, after all, it is French! Order the Croque Monsieur, a Mushroom Goat-Cheese Crepe, a mimosa, and a sucre au citron crepe. Lunch won’t be too lovey-dovey- in fact, the earlier you go, the less likely you are to find yourself engrossed by “carefully thought-out” love sonnets, sexual glances, and the squeals of delight from women receiving jewelry or other lavish gifts.
Next, go home. That’s right… go home. Take a nap, or watch some soap operas. In fact, the more soap operas you watch, the more you’re going to hate love. So make sure to make room for at least two episodes of the Young and the Restless, or One Life to Live. It’s just not a real Valentine’s Day unless you succumb to that guilty pleasure that every American has.
Hopefully by the time you’re done with soap operas or a nap, you’ll be ready for some alcohol. Open up a bottle of champagne. I mean hey, I think you owe it to yourself to indulge in an entire bottle. Or if you’re not too keen on champagne, get some Allagash Black or a bottle of the Gustav Adolf Schmitt Riesling Spätlese (a Riesling I whole-heartedly recommend), but drink to good health, to the prospects of finding a significant other (if you feel that you need one), to cynicism, and to your radical protest of America’s Hallmark Holiday…. then, pat yourself on the back, after all you deserve it.
After drinking, it’s time to satiate yourself. Head to Schulte and Herr (they start serving dinner on February 1st), Tu Casa, Saigon, or Ruski’s. Personally, I’d go for Tu Casa or Saigon. Plato Montanero or Pho? Ultimate comfort food… certain to ease your pain. The reason why I picked all of these fine establishments is not necessarily because they’re inexpensive (they are though, keep that in mind), but because most couples are more than likely going to bypass these options. None of these places cater a romantic environment, in fact, what they all have in common, besides really fucking (excuse the profanity, but in this instance, it’s absolutely necessary) delicious, satisfying food, is the “what you see is what you get” factor. If you choose Tu Casa, opt for the Plato Montanero, a meat pupusa, and a Longtrail IPA. Saigon– I’d go for a bowl of Pho, or the vermicelli with grilled prawns and fried egg-roll, with an avocado smoothie. You can’t miss the chicken fingers at Ruski’s (with honey mustard… no choice), with an order of veggie nachos, and a Brooklyn Lager. While I’m not sure on what’s going to be offered at Schulte and Herr, I’m really banking on their delectable potato pancakes with house cured lox and a German stout. Obviously, I wouldn’t pass on the dessert selection there either, because it’s cheap and delicious.
So whatever way you choose to cut your cake, you can’t go wrong with any of these places. If you follow the schedule I’ve set up for you too, there’s really no way you can go wrong. In fact, I think the only thing missing is a trip to Browne Trading Co. the day before. Buy yourself some caviar, some kettle chips and creme fraiche, and you’ll have yourself a nice little snack to accompany your “at-home happy hour”. Finally, remember that love stinks… well, sometimes it doesn’t, but on this occasion, it certainly does. Love yourself this Valentine’s Day.
This is the first installation in the O-rama series, a collective project in which food bloggers write on a theme.