Valentine's Day isn't fully embraced in the Netherlands yet. Many people see it as a commercial import, or overly fake and cheesy. However, the holiday is slowly gaining ground in Holland. After all, what's not to love about a day that celebrates romance?
Stress is the last thing you want on Valentine's Day. It's one thing to cook up a storm for your sweetie, but what's the point if you're too tired afterwards to be any fun? That's why our Dutch Valentine's Day Menu includes plenty of options that can be prepared ahead of time.
1. Set the Scene
To set the scene, make sure that the table looks pretty. This is the time to use your best plates, glasses, and cutlery (or borrow some from a friend). And, if you don't have anything fancy or it doesn't all match, don't worry, you can upgrade it from the everyday with pretty napkins, a crisp white table cloth or even a sprinkling of rose petals. A small vase of flowers and plenty of candles will also help to create that romantic mood. Turn off all televisions, phones and bright lights, and put on your favorite romantic music.
Get things lubricated with a chilled glass of champagne, cava or prosecco. If you'd like to start with a cocktail, our Red Light Cocktail is the appropriate blushing hue for Valentine's Day and is sure to put some color in your cheeks.
Make sure that you have something to serve along with the drinks, while you put on the finishing touches. Our cheese straws (kaasstengels) and Gouda cookies are always devoured in a flash. Shrimp croquettes can be prepared in advanced and deep fried at the last minute. Store-bought snacks are fine too. We particularly like those cherry red Peppadews (sweet piquante peppers) with chards of oude kaas (aged Gouda cheese).
A Valentine's Day meal, or any romantic meal for that matter, should be fairly light. After all, you want to be in the mood for love afterwards... not a snooze. Therefore, we suggest a menu featuring light foods, such as soups, souffles and seafood. For starters, try this airy Carrot Soufflé recipe, try this fresh and zingy Salmon Tartare or make a soup that can be prepared in advance and simply warmed up on the day, such as Foamy Cream of Parsnip Soup with Prawns, Pink Beetroot & Orange Soup, Lobster Soup or Creamy Belgian Endive Soup with White Beer.
Keep your lover in mind when selecting recipes. If your date's idea of culinary heaven is steak and chips, you could upgrade to Venison Steak or Pork Cordon Bleu and Oven Fries with Rosemary & Lemon Sea Salt or Roasted Root Veggies, but don't be surprised if you both doze off soon after dinner.
Seafood is a lighter bet, and Dutch mussels are a fine choice. They're known for their so-called aphrodisiac properties and are the perfect food for feeding each other, which is sure to get you in the mood. And, they happen to be in season in February. Mussels are best served straight from pot to plate, so make these at the last minute. Our Moreish Mussels are served with Thick-Cut Oven Baked Fries, homemade Mayonnaise and samphire (optional). You might also want to try Mussels with Saffron and Ginger.
Many people don't have a sweet tooth. If your date falls into this category, you could forego dessert and serve a Dutch Cheese Plate instead, or add it as a lavish extra course. The Netherlands is well-known for its typical Gouda and Edam cheeses, but why not try a Dutch Cheese Plate with aged goat's cheese, blue-veined Gouda, herb cheese with nettles ('brandnetelkaas') and a delicious young goat's cheese? Serve with our Speculaas-Spiced Apple & Pear Chutney or Pickled Beet Salad.
Did you know that cinnamon is said to be an aphrodisiac, and that the Queen of Sheba allegedly seduced King Solomon with cinnamon? With that in mind, we recommend these perfectly pink, semi-heart shaped Poached Pears, drizzled with honey and served with Cinnamon Ice-Cream.
If you insist on going the route of that other famous St. Valentine's Day aphrodisiac, chocolate, our Dark Chocolate Mousse is always a hit. Is your date a chocoholic? This rich, sweet and decadent Baked Chocolate Custard will satisfy even their strongest cravings. Serve with a good brandy or cognac and a strong cup of coffee.