Enjoy a Romantic Valentine’s Day Cooking & Uncorking with Love

February 14th used to be a day I feared like no other. Ask any chef. Whether it’s Back Bay Boston or Union Square, San Francisco, Valentine’s Day is usually c one of the busiest restaurant days of the year. 

People who may only go out one day a year are out on the town February 14th. I very much look forward to the day now and almost always, we stay home and I engage in trying to top all my previous culinary efforts as we consume some very special wines to pair with each delectable, delicious morsel. With a video recipe for almost anything in the culinary world available on YouTube or any of the culinary channels, there is no excuse to keep anyone from donning an apron and picking up a knife. Stay home this year with your special someone and cook your heart out. If you are single, nothing helps people get to know you like cooking a meal for them. Isn’t finding someone who knows us and still wants and likes us what most of us are looking for in a relationship? Choosing the right wine might be easier than you may think. Just remember the best wine is what you like.

We are starting our celebration with a South African Chenin Blanc called Indaba from the 2014 vintage. If you have not ever tried a South African Chenin Blanc, you will be pleasantly surprised how different this grape tastes when it’s grown in African soil. Indaba Chenin Blanc smells of honeysuckle, citrus, and peach. The flavors are juicy, luscious, fruity and full-bodied leaning towards off dry but not quite there.

I put together some interesting flavors to compliment and contrast the wine. Using a three-seeded baguette rubbed with roasted shallots and fresh herbs, I season them then toast to a golden brown. I have chosen the Crostini as my canvas with a base of Chevre (Goat cheese) for a creamy texture juxtaposed with the crispiness of the crostini.

Kalamata Olive Tapenade and Artichoke Puree

To add a little backbone and acidity, I top the goat cheese with a Kalamata olive tapenade and then a puree of artichoke to finish out the savory symphony of flavors smoothly. The Indaba cuts through with gleaming citrus and minerality, cleansing the palate while melding seamlessly with the crostini’s nutty, smooth artichoke and briny bold tapenade flavors. This wine also pairs well with any spicy Asian or sweet and sour take out (just in case you burn the toast).  It’s always good to have plan B.

Rating: Very Good (87) | $12 | 13.5% ABV

Buy the 2014 Indaba Chenin Blanc South Africa wine at Buy.com


[box]Artichoke Puree [/box]

1 cup drained marinated artichoke hearts

Zest of ½ small lemon

Place ingredients in small food processor spin until smooth

If dry, add a small amount of extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

[box]Kalamata Olive Tapenade[/box]

1 cup pitted and drained Kalamata Olives

1 tsp Horseradish mustard

1/4 cup Roasted red peppers peeled and seeded

In a small food processor pulse all ingredients until chopped well but not pureed

Add extra virgin olive oil for desired consistency

Salt and pepper to taste