Up until recently, I haven’t had very many memorable St. Valentine’s Day events. Usually single, I just haven’t gotten that gooey-chocolate-center-filled feeling that some coupled up people sometimes exhibit, when the women are excited about flowers and dinner and the men are excited about dinner and sex.
Before last year, when I spent Valentine’s Day with Courtney, my most memorable 2/14 was in high school when my then-boyfriend baked me two GINORMOUS chocolate chip cookies in the shape of hearts. He presented them to me in a t-shirt-size box. Sadly, our relationship lasted just about as long as it took me to eat those cookies.
Memories aside, I’d like to announce that Valentine’s Day 2009 TAKES THE EFFING CAKE!!
Rather than b!tch-slap the holiday in the face and bury myself under a pile of covers, I decided to have a Wine, Chocolate and Cheese party! I started by querying the minds of wine-shop owners far and wide for their best wine-to-chocolate and wine-to-cheese pairings. Then I proceeded to purchase nine bottles of wine, a bag full of Lindt chocolate, and a cartful of delicious cheeses. The rest of my energy was spent trying to lay out all of this sinfully delicious goodness in my small(ish) townhouse so that my guests could enjoy it:
My buffet (shown above, at left) featured common deli-type cheeses, such as Monterey Jack, Aged Swiss, Mild Cheddar, Pepper Jack and Colby Jack. Also out for the tasting was several pieces of Lindt dark chocolate mixed with pear, and shortbread cookies. The buffet housed all of my wine glasses as well. The dining room table (shown above, middle, with the adorable Sarah S-E playing Vanna White) was the playground for both a pot of Lindt chocolate fondue as well as a pot of cheese fondue, made from Emmenthal, Sharp Cheddar and Gruyere cheeses (and a cup of Bloomer Creek Riesling that I picked up last year in the Finger Lakes). My guests provided much of the fondue dipping foods, such as fresh fruit, blanched veggies, brownies, truffles, and cubed bread!
On the pairing table (shown above, at right), a 2007 Crios Cabernet Sauvignon was paired with Beamster XO aged cheddar and dark chocolate. A 2007 Domaine du Tariquet Sauvignon (white) was paired with soft cheeses (Brie in honey and White Stilton with blueberries), and a 2007 Garnacha de Fuego (red) was paired with soft cheeses (Mozzarella and Muenster) and milk chocolate. Overwhelmingly, my guests enjoyed the Crios and the Tariquet.
[Note: Another good suggestion for pairing with chocolate and hard cheeses made it to my party by way of the Ehmans: Quarterback McLaren Vale Red, a blend of three different types of grapes.]
More than a dozen of my good friends were able to come over for several hours of eating, drinking and merry-making! (Emphasis on the eating, drinking and merry-making.)
(From top left: A Jones family huddle includes Sarah, Mike and Auntijen, with Baby Bump; Kolter and Stephanie; Sarah, Jen and Keith; Laura, Jen and Curtis; Jen and Courtney; Sean and Jen; Rob and Amy; Keith and Sarah; Mike, Jen and Sarah)
After a couple of the guests had departed, I snuck a couple guests upstairs to go see my new lingerie dresser, which my parents had picked up in New York that day and delivered at the start of the party. (Long story short? I have the Valencia collection from Pottery Barn in my bedroom. I really wanted this tower, but didn’t notice when PB discontinued it. Surfing online last week, I spied one being sold on eBay. Unbeknownst to me, Mom (with the help of her awesome enabler co-worker, Bill) bid on it and won! So, Saturday morning Mom and Dad drove six hours up to New York, picked up the piece and drove the six hours back. It’s my early birthday present! And, yes Dad, I’ve already filled all the drawers!)
Anyhoodle… coming back down the stairs, Keith, Mike and I were doing some sort of odd conga massage line (photo on the left), which I apparently thought was pretty funny (photo on the right)!
My last guests to leave were Sarah and Keith — they hung out to help me wash dishes, pack away the leftover cheeses and blow out candles. With the dishes done, Sarah and I shared some giggles on the floor, which inevitably led to us posing as ganstas, and finalizing everything with a **fist bump**! At some point, I found an unopened Valentine’s Day card from Catelyn (Sarah and Mike’s daughter), but ended up in another giggle-fit when I tried to pass it across the floor to Sarah. Turning the camera on Keith, he made a funny face that he hoped I wouldn’t catch with the flash! Before becoming too tired, Sarah and I posed for a picture with the daffodil arrangement that she and Keith secretly left for me in my house earlier that day. These two know how much I *heart* daffodils, and for the past two years they’ve made sure that I get some sunny yellow blooms for V-Day! (Love you guys!)
Somewhere around 2 a.m., I thought I had found a comfortable place to take a nap… but then I realized that Sarah and Keith would not leave me lying on my dining room floor. So I giggled, got up and said goodnight to the last of my friends, officially ending Valentine’s Day 2009 and one of the best parties I have ever hosted.