My ideal romantic meal would be Carribean and Latin American inspired, because this cuisine is the food that I love and eat on a regular basis, and I would want to share this on the most romantic day of the year, as Valentines day is all about sharing and showing love, right? I know many would serve "classic" starters, mains and desserts such as asparagus, oysters, steak and chocolate, which is fine but I like to do things a bit different.
For me, my perfect Valentines day meal would take place early evening on an island in the Caribbean, perhaps on the beach where I could hear the the sea reaching the shore, and where I could hear a live band singing some of my favourite songs. Whilst I would not certainly not want to be cooking up a storm, and indeed would prefer lazying around, enjoying company until the meal is served, I would want the dishes that are featured to be served. I have eaten (or variations) of saltfish fritters, sticky lime pork and rum and lime cupcakes in Brazil, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Cuba, and these dishes feature on my menu.
For my starter, one or two Jamaican saltfish fritters, widely eaten in the Carribbean, would be served with a sweet chilli dipping sauce. These small, roundish fritters are the perfect starter as they set your tastebuds with the delights of what culinary delights are yet to come. The seasoned saltfish in a crispy batter and lightly spiced batter, dipped in sweet chilli sauce is too succulent not to feature as my starter.
|Saltfish fritters with sweet chilli sauce.|
For the main course, I would serve my Cuban sticky lime and chilli pork with a small portion of rice, black beans and perhaps some plantain chips. This dish sounds pretty loaded, but in fact it is a hearty serving of some fabulous flavour pairings, (and Valentines day is a day where we should indulge). The chilli and lime are all native to the Caribbean, alongside the dark muscavodo sugar which makes the pork "sticky" and ensures the pork is moist, flavoursome, refreshing. The rice and black beans is a traditional Latin American dish, and as rice is one of the staple dishes in this region, it would be wrong not to include it. The plaintain chips add a sweeter, yet crunchy element to my main, but if you feel this is to hearty, you could always omit this.
|Sticky lime chilli pork & rice & black beans|
For the crem de le crem of my Valentines day menu is my chocolate and rum syrup cupcakes topped with lime buttercream. These cupcakes are very grown up and the rum provides a very rich boozy taste to my cupcakes, and the lime buttercream and chocolate sprinkles is the perfect topping as it creates a refreshing topping.
|Chocolate and lime cupcakes|
There's two final things that I would like to share which would make my perfect Valentines day meal complete, which are the view (which I have talked about on several occasions) and the music which I would like to be played in the background, which is Guantanamera, arguable the most famous and romantic song to come out of Cuba and The Girl from Ipanema, another famous song hailing from Brazil.