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THE FOOD
OF LOVE

Create a magical Valentine’s meal to remember with a romantic and (more importantly) easy three-course menu from Venice-based food writer and stylist Skye McAlpine

Starter: White wine soup

Tradition dictates that Valentine’s Day should be celebrated at a restaurant with roses and fancy hors d’oeuvres. But celebration for me is equated with cooking and eating at home: with meals around our dining table; with lingering over coffee and lazily shuffling upstairs to bed when the grappa has been drunk and the candles blown out.

Venice in February feels a little like a fairyland: it's cold and misty, and the streets are deliciously deserted so it feels like you have the whole city to yourself. Last Valentine’s Day it rained cats and dogs – or as we say in Italy ‘pioggia a catinelle’, so I made soup. A quick and easy soup with only four ingredients: white wine, steaming hot beef broth, egg yolks, and a healthy measure of cream.

“A recipe that’s
DECADENT and comforting
at the same time”

KITCHEN ESSENTIALS

Main: Fennel and pecorino tartlets

I kept it light for this menu. The kind of absent-minded cooking that I find relaxing and calls for no great planning. The kind of impromptu handiwork that has a way of producing the sort of food that everyone wants to eat, what you might call comfort food – like these buttery tartlets that take around half an hour to prepare and cook.

I like to live by the belief that we need no excuse to cook a sumptuous dinner, and even less to make it a special affair. The best Valentine’s Days we’ve ever had have been the ones where we've invited friends over for dinner and ended up having an impromptu party.

“Eat these puff pastry,
FENNEL and pecorino
tartlets still hot from
the oven”

KITCHEN ESSENTIALS

Dessert: Coffee and walnut cake with mascarpone icing

Walnut cake is something my mother used to talk about often when I was small – it was the vocabulary of her own childhood, of afternoon teas with crumpets, or shortbread and Earl Grey tea.

In this cake, I used mascarpone for the icing, largely because it is easier to get hold of in Italy than cream cheese (though you could just as well use that – or butter for that matter, and make a buttercream). And I find mascarpone adds a lovely depth to icing that otherwise can taste a little too sweet.

“This cake is quite
DELIGHTFUL for
breakfast the next day”

KITCHEN ESSENTIALS

Photographs & recipes: Skye McAlpine / Editor: Emma Sleight

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