It is nothing out of the ordinary to see offers for Valentine’s day in Santiago, but for some reason, this year seems to be awash with packages from every hotel and restaurant in the capital. From budget options, like buying a corny heart shaped pizza from Telepizza to dropping 70 mil pesos on a meal on the famed terrace of Hotel Noi, there are a multitude of options throughout the city for both dinner and a room.
But if you really want to grab the reins on your romantic evening and have a meal that goes straight to the heart (through the mouth and stomach of course), then preparing a meal at home can be a real winner. However, to really pull off that memorable meal, care must be taken. Here are what I would call the essentials (written from the male’s perspective I must add):
-Be ready: There’s a fine line between taking the DIY route to supreme execution impossible to find in a food establishment and last minute improvisation/desperation. If you don’t take the time to really think through the meal, it will look as though you forgot. And you probably did if you didn’t plan. So if you don’t have time, better pick up that phone and order your heart shaped pizza or make a reservation.
-Buy fresh and choose well: A good meal starts with good ingredients. Make a visit to the market and avoid that ugly supermarket produce. You need ingredients that are at the perfect state of ripeness for this meal, not ones that will survive on Lider’s shelves for a week and a half. Also remember that your ingredients are also powerful tools for setting the mood. Do some research, choose well, and be thankful that it’s easy and cheap to buy asparagus, avocados, shellfish (they say picorocos, the funky looking giant barnacles at the market work great) and almonds. It doesn’t hurt to throw in some chocolate and champagne either. Don’t set the whipped cream out on the table though. That’s for dessert.
-Don’t skimp on the wine: So you went to the market and got a better deal on your ingredients than in the supermarket. What do you do with that little bit of savings? Put it into the wine. Go bubbly if you want with one of Chile’s great bruts –Miguel Torres makes a great one- or pair your meal with something proper. It’s a special night; maybe you’ll even get into the 6 figure wines (in pesos). Want something with character? Try one of the independent MOVI labels. All small batch production, so there’s a bit of love already in each bottle.
-Take a calculated risk: It’s time to shine, and that means pushing the envelope a bit, but don’t get too experimental. This is not a spaghetti and meatballs night, but maybe you should try your first Beef Wellington at a different moment.
-Setting is everything: The music, the smell, the lighting, take care to control it all to match the mood and the dish. Maybe this means making some changes, buy a new bowl, a tablecloth. Change it up a bit. But remember setting is almost as important as the food.
What do you have planned for Valentine ’s Day? And have you ever read the history behind it? Much better than the slightly cheesy corporate sales driving version we know today. Enjoy!
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