Valentine’s Day can be such a crock of commerical shite, but this time I had someone special so I wanted make sure he felt special. And I wanted it to be perfect. I had it planned down to the last detail. After all your lovely suggestions (thanks for the comments and emails!), I decided on a Spinach and Ricotta Lasagne with Pine Nuts that I found on the Delia Smith website. For dessert, strawberries marinated in balsamic vinegar served with vanilla marscapone, a tried and true Jamie Oliver recipe.
I live in a share house that has no dining room or living area, so I had to improvise. The world’s most romantic dinner would be served in my dinky little bedroom. I would push the bed aside and the computer desk would be transformed into a dining table. I found some fairy lights in a store cupboard that I would put up for romantic lighting, along with a battallion of candles. Then I prepared a precise schedule so nothing would left to chance:
WEDNESDAY – Go to my friends house and borrow some chairs so we don’t have to sit on arse-numbing bar stools.
THURSDAY – Clean my room to perfection. Soak in the bath for weekly exfoliation and deforestation of legs.
FRIDAY – Purchase of ingredients for meal.
7AM – Arise to marinate the strawberries before trudging off to work at 8AM.
3PM – Race home to prepare lasagne, green salad and marscapone cream. Set up bedroom with lights, wine, etc. Make myself look ravishing before heading off to…
6.30PM – Meet The Boy at the cinema to see Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Enlist sister to put lasagne in oven so it will be ready when we return as if by magic!
8.30PM – Arrive home in romantic mood following romantic film. Light candles and crank up fairy lights while The Boy is in the bathroom. Zip downstairs to plate up, then back to boudoir to sit down with quality meal and wine. Then dessert. Then sweet sweet lovin’.
Ah, things never go to plan…
WEDNESDAY – So wiped out by my 75-minute Body Jam class that I forget all about chairs and fall asleep in stinky gym clothes.
THURSDAY – Still so sore and tired from Body Jam, cleaning is postponed til Friday night. Fall asleep at 8.30pm. The Boy calls at 10pm and asks would it be okay if he stayed over Friday night as he’ll be at uni late. As he lives 20 miles away and any extra time together is a bonus, instantly say "Sure!" instead of, "Nooo! You’ll ruin my schedule!". Leap out of bed for a late night leg shaving session.
FRIDAY – Tantrum as Tesco supermaket fails to have mozzarella or nutmeg, plus wants to charge £2.50 for a tiny bag of spinach, meaning I need to find time for a trip to a different supermarket. But there’s no time – the Boy arrives on doorstep with a beautiful indoor plant for me. Boy scores points for listening to my recent rant about the ridiculousness of spending £20 on a bunch of flowers that will die in two days AND my rant about wishing my room had some greenery.
7.15AM – Wake up in a panic, try not disturb Boy as I clang around in the kitchen hacking up strawberries. Major tantrum as new bottle of balsamic will NOT fucking OPEN! Run to sisters room and ruin her sleep-in and beg her to help me open it. Finally resort to drilling hole in lid. Say thanks to my cranky sister. Kiss sleeping Boy goodbye who enquires groggily, "Did you drop something downstairs?". Tell him he is dreaming, run to catch bus to work.
7.35AM – Miss bus to work.
3.30PM – Leave work late. Frantic shopping trip to secure cheese and nutmeg. Remember that I am out of ‘defrizz’ stuff for my hair so fight through crowds at Boots, become tense and cranky.
4.00PM – Call The Boy to ask what time will he be getting back to my place from uni? He says 5.30PM. I say "That’s cool!". Hang up and say "FUCK! FUUUUUUUUUCK!!!!".
4.05PM – Discover that Delia Smith’s ‘All In One’ method for making sauces really really SUCKS. Whisk and whisk so hard and so long that my wrist is sorer than that of a 15 year old boy with a stack of Playboy. Curse Delia as I add more flour.
4.45PM – Curse Delia’s name again as she instructs me to wash spinach leaves THREE times then pat them dry. Who the hell has the time or inclination to pat spinach leaves dry!?!?
4.50PM – Decide to skip leaf-washing. Get the shits with plucking stalks off spinach leaves. Throw rest of spinach in pot without removing stalks, rationalising that a bit of extra fibre never hurt anyone.
4.55PM – Note that cooked spinach tastes slightly dirty. Decide dirt = more fibre.
5.00PM – While waiting for spinach to cool, scrape out vanilla pod and stir into marscapone. Feel guilty for making dessert with out-of-season fruit that was probably imported from Chile and packed into plastic boxes by peasants who get paid 3 dollars per month. Transfer guilt by eating tablespoon of marscapone.
5.05PM – Contemplate fashioning a Delia Smith voodoo doll out of balled-up shopping bags after she demands I wring out the spinach to remove excess water. Insufficient time to wait for spinach to cool, so must throw wads of steaming spinach from one hand to the other, groping occassionally, swearing frequently.
5.10PM – Lightly toasted pinenuts turn into chargrilled pinenuts after being distracted by second marscapone taste-test.
5.20PM – Hasty assembly of lasagne. Realise there is not enough filling to make three layers as dictated by Delia. Fill in gaps with more cheese.
5.25PM – Frantic washing of dishes; stashing of wine, glasses and corkscrew in underwear drawer; howling at realisation no time left to wash hair, cursing wasted time in Boots buying hair product, quick shower, scribbling of note for sister, NO TIME 4 SALAD PLS MAKE IF U TIME? IF NOT NO WORRIES THX.
5.35PM – Boy arrives, I am be-towelled and red-faced. Boy: "How was your day?" Me: "Oh fine, pretty quiet."
5.45PM – Test fairy lights while Boy is in the shower. Fairy lights do not work. Cue 15th tantrum of the day. Kick lights under bed just as he wanders back in.
6.15PM – Walk to cinema. Tiffany’s is fabulous as always. Make sniggering jokes about all the couples in the cinema before realising that we are actually one of them now. We have crossed over.
8.45PM – Arrive home to delicious smell of lasagne. Sister has cooked it to perfection and made the salad too. Realise that I forgot to clear desk for eating on. Explain to Boy the bungled plan for Romantic Boudoir, apologise for lack of seating and mood lighting. Produce bottle of wine etc from undie drawer. Boy gives the sweetest smile and says "You’re a star". Order him to open the wine and light the candles while I get the food.
9PM – We sit cross-legged on the bed, balancing plates in our laps, squinting at our food and smiling at each other in the candlelight. I do not worry about the fat content of my food, he compliments my cooking then spills tomato on his shirt. I laugh at him and guzzle my wine.
10PM – Boy is suitably impressed by delicious dessert as I scoff my 15th tablespoon of marscapone for the day. Then more wine, more kisses and cuddles, then talking until the candles are just a red puddle on the plate. And that’s the most romantic day of my life, right there.
Calories consumed: 23,567 at least.
Calories burned: quite a few.