I don’t know about you, but I’m not above whetting my wife’s more carnal appetites with enough wine and chocolate to impair her better judgment. I’m sure that’s all very un-PC and certainly, as the father of young daughters, I live in mortal fear of the effects of alcohol on sensibility; but my wife’s a big girl, and above all, she knows how I think, so I’m pretty sure our pending Valentine’s Date – a savory symphony of handcrafted chocolate and wine at J Winery – will be consensual.
As a rule, I view Valentine’s Day rather dimly. It’s not that I’m a Grinch, it’s just that I tire of the obligatory expense, the Wiemar Republican inflation of menu prices and long-stemmed roses, the topsy-turvy calculus of a holiday on which profligate spending is simply expected and only an absence of gifts attracts attention. But I’m trying to be less crusty and more romantic with the accelerating rush of time, and anyway, the grandparents volunteered to babysit our litter – if the first rule of child rearing is never to wake a sleeping baby, then the second is surely never to decline free babysitting. Or any babysitting. So, instead of bitching about Hallmark Holidays, I’m leaving my kids with the ‘rents and taking my wife to “TCHO and Pinot”, what promises to be an extravagant mouth-party of artisanal TCHO chocolate and J Winery Pinot Noir, welded seamlessly together in Chef Mark Caldwell’s kitchen, and – you heard it here first – an official Best Bet To Make Her Smile and You Lucky.
The meal itself promises wonderful things: Beef braised in cocoa nib tea; a cocoa-crusted loin of lamb with a cocoa-infused reduction of Pinot Noir; and root vegetables and whatever else Mark can get his hands on that is best, seasonal, and local at the moment. All in all, a compelling excuse to spend an afternoon with my wife, in a pretty little room with lots of light and views of our valley, and just enough room to play footsie. Although I’m still not buying that velveteen heart-shaped box or schmaltzy card.