I think you either love or hate this holiday, and I know a lot of people hate it. I realize that despite the business it draws, restaurants must hate this day. I showed up last night for a 5 pm dinner reservation at Brasserie Beck (the only time available when making a reservation 2 weeks in advance) and the hostess was already starting to lose it. While we were waiting to be seated, some poor idiot called and asked if there were any tables left. “No,” she said, clutching her head, “we are completely booked. The restaurant is completely booked.” I got the feeling she’d probably had this conversation countless times that day.
As we were escorted to the table, it dawned on me. Eating out on Valentine’s Day is like the dining equivalent to flying on Thanksgiving weekend. All sorts of people who normally never eat out or come into the city pop out of the woodwork for this one day. They’re like those infuriating people in the security line who somehow haven’t heard about the 3 oz liquids rule. You can usually tell just by looking — there’s the guy in sloppy jeans and sneakers; the girl in an inappropriately tiny dress with inappropriately high heels; and that horrible couple that keeps making out at the table across from you.
As for me, I like Valentine’s Day. But not because I like roses or chocolates or fancy dinners. Don’t get me wrong–I like all of those things very much, but you can have them any day of the week if you really want them. No, I like Valentine’s Day for far, far nerdier reasons. I like Valentine’s Day in the same way that the staff at Martha Stewart Living likes Valentine’s Day: it’s an excuse to make beautiful, delicious things. As I kid, I loved making paper Valentine’s. Actually, I’d really love it if someone gave me some construction paper and glitter glue right now. Now that I’m older, I like the excuse to bake something in the shape of a heart and put pink frosting on it.
Last year, I decided to indulge myself and I made a myriad of chocolate and vanilla cut out cookies. I sandwiched some of them with raspberry jam and covered the others with all sorts of pink and red designs. It was delightful. This year, I was felled by a bout of stomach flu and couldn’t make any cookies. Well, I suppose I could have, but I wouldn’t have been able to eat any, and no one wants cookies made by a germy person, no matter how pretty they are. I’ll just have to wait until next year.