Friday, February 12, 2010

My Favorite Valentines

Being single, I was resolved to completely ignore the very existence of Valentine's Day this year. There would be no frilly valentines made or sent. There would be no cute cookies sent out to friends and handed out to strangers. I would celebrate the Lunar New Year instead. I mean, it involves explosives (fireworks), a parade of brightly dressed people carrying elaborate dragons, and once everyone is good and frozen there are freshly steamed buns and the bakery two steps away and paper cups of hot jasmine tea. Yes, there will be no sappy poetry and overpriced roses for me this year, I was content to just ignore all of it.

Instead I learned that while I might still be single, I will always have two awesome valentines. The kind that when properly fed and fortified with a glass or two of a good wine, will dissolve in giggles over a word or a gesture. The kind that are just as mesmerized by the giant wheel of Parmisiano-Reggiano into which the waiter dumps our freshly made pasta to toss, and the kind that sigh over that amazing dish of Tagliatelle as they devour it. The kind that break down into another fit of giggles when they learn that the cheese tub gets washed out with wine before being put to bed in the fridge for the night, and then contemplate other things that can/should be washed in wine for way longer then is strictly necessary. The kind that can talk about anyone and anything long enough to close down a restaurant, outlasting even the cooing couples filling the tables around them. The kind that insist on dessert even though breathing has become optional at least 20 minutes ago, and then unabashedly stare at other diner's desserts, sighing over missed opportunities. The kind that don't mind wedging themselves between two car seats and agreeing to tea and macaroons after dinner, just to be able to keep talking. The kind you can laugh with until you cry, every time. And of course, the kind that will raid your shelves and cabinets for goodies to "borrow" or steal. My valentines are my sisters and I'll pick them over a heart shaped box of chocolates every time.

Valentine Macaroons

But back to the macaroons. It could very well be that I've been reading way too much of what some might call foodie porn, but my food memory and sense of taste have been extremely sensitive as of late and I now have a slew of sensory adjectives to describe the flavors I encounter. It might also be that my house has been devoid of chocolate for too long, who knows, but a few days ago a thoughtful coworker brought back some lovely almond caramel macaroons from lunch to share with "the girls" and I'm pretty sure my eyes rolled back into my head as I tasted mine. Normally, my eyes are much better behaved then that, but the smooth shells were perfectly crisp yet tender and the filling was still cool but melted instantly like a rich ice cream on the palate. Nirvana in miniature.

Being the nice sister I am, I went back to Delightful Pastries and I bought a little over a dozen more of these cookies to share with my sisters. And while I don't have a recipe to share with you, I did want to say that I will be trying to replicate these perfect bits of heaven, but until I do, you must make your way to the French Market in Chicago and try them for yourself or share them with your Valentine. Just remember to leave some for me.

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