A classic comfort menu to celebrate Valentine’s Day
By Margo Stich Photography by AB-Photography.us
Now, more than ever, we crave memorable moments. Special occasions, such as Valentine’s Day, offer a way to spend time with people who are important to us and to create memories with them. Preparing and sharing food is a powerful way to show we care.
COMFORT ME WITH FOOD
My menu for this Valentine’s Day is set. Stuffed pork chops are always a winner for special dinners in my household and one I am sure many meat eaters will find appealing. As a starch side dish, what could be more satisfying than potatoes? I’ll be serving au gratin potatoes flavored with onion, cheddar cheese and a bit of sour cream.
And let’s not forget dessert. What is Valentine’s Day without chocolate? Recently Rochester resident Cathy Houghtaling was reminiscing about her childhood days and a dessert she recalls her grandmother making. That recipe has passed down through the family, today serving as a special treat for her whole family, especially the grandkids. She was delighted to share that recipe with us, adding, “Just pretend it has no calories.”
Find these three recipes and more on our website.
Also, a wine pairing recommendation: Pork dishes lend themselves to both white and red wines. Consider lighter bodied wines to complement lighter textured cuts with lighter seasoning and heavier wines for fuller flavored ones. I will be serving Bogle Chardonnay with my pork chops and potatoes.
DINING OUT DELIGHTS
For delicious food without the work, order food for takeout and transfer it to your own special dishes. As area restaurants have continuously adapted to changing restrictions, it’s helpful for us to support them.
A popular appetizer on the menu at Five West Kitchen and Bar is their spinach artichoke dip. It has won over many palates, including mine, and is a wonderful starter. For those looking for “comfort food” main dishes as takeout, consider the house-cut sirloin with garlic mashed potatoes from Saints on Second, or Swedish meatballs at the Redwood Room. A great main dish, for vegetarians and others, is the award-winning butternut squash ravioli, a long-standing item on Twig’s menu.
These are just a fraction of delicious options at area restaurants. I encourage you to explore the plethora of local menus close by.
For the best of all options consider mixing homemade with takeout food. Whatever combination you sit down to may it be one that is truly enjoyed and helps express those simple two words: “I care.”
Notes from local restaurants
It’s no secret that the pandemic has hit local restaurants and bars particularly hard. Two local chefs share some thoughts.
Years ago, Pat Reding, head chef at Saints on Second, stated, “Though often tired at the end of my workday, the rewards are seemingly endless.” While there are still daily rewards, COVID-19 has brought new pressures. In addition to food preparation, as a manager she takes seriously her responsibility to see the restaurant through challenges and make sure her staff has jobs to return to.
Rochester native Clayton Welder, chef at the Redwood Room has adapted his approach a bit to offer more comfort food and maximize value for the guest and for the business overall. At times of increased takeout orders, he offers dishes that travel well and reheat easily. His end goal is unchanged, namely that someone can get a flavorful dinner.
Restaurants are experiencing a high level of inconsistent customer demand. Welder notes, “It can be really slow one day, and the next day it can be busy. Every order we receive is a blessing which we are so grateful for.”