How to “wow” on Valentine’s Day

Posted on February 8, 2012 by Mary Ellen Brewington

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and while it’s a time for loved ones to show their affection, some couples may experience anxiety when it comes to planning the perfect romantic date. The restaurants are always crowded and booked, and store-bought gifts don’t always reflect our true feelings.

To show your love and get to spend some quality time together on this special day, Cherokee Distributing suggests eating in – with a twist!

By cooking a delicious meal for your significant other, you’ve invested the thought and the time that shows you care. And, you’ll get to enjoy peace and quiet and one-on-one time at your own private dinner table.

To make this Valentine’s Day dinner unique from any other Tuesday night meal, however, Cherokee suggests planning a beer pairing for each course. This is a fun and easy way to add some spark to the evening.

If you plan to have a three-course meal, pair your beers accordingly. You’ll probably want to start with light beers and progress to darker brews with each course. Below is a suggested menu from Cherokee Distributing, but feel free to substitute you and your loved one’s favorite dishes and brews to achieve the perfect meal.

This Valentine’s Day, here’s hoping for love at first sip – Cheers!

Valentine’s Day Menu

First Course
To start the night, serve a Strawberry and Feta salad. This fresh, fruity salad features red strawberry slices reminiscent of hearts, setting the mood for a romantic evening. With creamy feta cheese, crunchy almonds and tangy raspberry vinaigrette, this salad will make your date swoon.

For a beer pairing, you’ll want to select a light beer with fruit notes to complement the fresh strawberries and fruit-sweetened salad dressing. Try Abita Purple Haze, a crisp, American-style wheat beer with raspberry puree added after filtration to create a fruity aroma and a tartly sweet taste. It will match nicely with the raspberry vinaigrette. Other options include Leinenkugel’s Sunset Wheat, a versatile witbier with notes of coriander and citrus, and Blue Moon, a Belgian-style wheat ale also featuring coriander and citrus. Garnish both of these beers with a fresh orange slice.

Second Course
For your main entree, we fell for this creative concept for “Love Birds” – featuring chicken snuggled up in a warm pastry. This unique, yet comforting, dish featuring fig preserves and Italian cheese fits the bill for a cozy, intimate dinner at home. For a side, serve a fresh vegetable like lemon-butter green beans.

When selecting a beer pairing for this course, you don’t want to battle the variety of flavors in the dish – seasoned chicken, sweet figs, creamy cheese and flaky pastry. Select a classic brew with hops and carbonation that accentuate and contrast the flavors – as well as cleanse the palate for the next tasty forkful. We recommend Samuel Adams Boston Lager.

If you’re serving red meat like a filet or roasted lamb, try a dark brew to softly complement the main course like Newcastle Brown Ale. If you instead want to contrast and cut through a big, flavorful beef meal, try a hoppy IPA like Harpoon or Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

If your main course features lobster tails, oysters or other seafood, pair it with a classic stout like Guinness for a complex, flavorful dining experience.

Third Course
Let’s face it: Valentine’s Day is all about the sweets – usually the chocolate ones. And you can’t get much more decadent than Molten Lava Cakes. Don’t worry if you’re not a baker, as these rich cakes will be ready to serve in less than an hour. The hot, gooey chocolate will to melt your date’s heart, and the kick of cinnamon and cayenne will definitely spice up the night!

To pair a beer with any “death by chocolate” dessert like this one, you’ll need an equally rich, dark and creamy beer. Beers that feature chocolate and coffee notes will enhance the flavor of your dessert. Try Highland Black Mocha Stout, a creamy malt beer with bittersweet chocolate and the hint of coffee. Another delicious choice would be Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout to achieve the right balance of hot and gooey chocolate cake with a cool, creamy libation.

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