I know, I know: by this point, this little Valentine's Day cliché is much overused among vegans, but who can blame us for trying to shine some more light on the vegan lifestyle by shifting the significance of the V initial? Even better, making V stand for something else makes people who hate Valentine's Day hate it a little less, or not at all: Vampire Day (I like this one!), Vanilla Day (vanilla cupcakes, anyone?), Vanessa Day (for the Vanessas in your life) are but a mere sampling of possible V-Days.
But I digress, as I usually do.
I used to be one of the Valentine's Day haters. I didn't like the overconsumption it encouraged, nor did I care for the pressure it puts on couples or the loneliness and bitterness it stirs up in singles. But for the same reasons why I came to love Christmas, I can see myself growing to love Valentine's Day. You see, any occasion that offers an excuse to cook and bake above what is normal and, maybe, reasonable offers yet another reason to feel joyous. So, silly as it might sound, when Matt offered to take me out to dinner for our Valentine's Day meal, I was a bit dismayed because that would mean that I wouldn't get to cook. Wait a second, though: V-Day fell on a Sunday this year. Why not go out for dinner on Sunday and, on the Saturday evening preceding the lovely 14th, cook up a dinner chez moi?
Matt said that he would take me to ChuChai, Montreal's premier fine cuisine vegetarian Thai restaurant. How could I complain? Reservations were made, and because we make a point to eat two appetizers, two meals, and two desserts between the two of us (and my appetite is smaller than what might be considered normal, I might add, and not without dismay, because I love to eat), I decided to make my planned V-Day meal a little lighter than the decadent meal I'd initially conjured in my head.
I chose to make a mixed-greens salad with miso dressing (recipe courtesy of the lid on the Cold Mountain Red Miso paste); a warm and comforting garlic-and-greens potato soup (recipe courtesy of Colleen Patrick-Goudreau from her book The Vegan Table), because I had tons of potatoes that needed to be used; and wild rice with raisins, slivered almonds, ginger and other spices, also from The Vegan Table, but modified to use wild rice instead of the quinoa used in the recipe. I had wild rice on hand because I needed it to test a recipe for Lindsay, and I'd been so impressed with it that I wanted to use it in Colleen's recipe, too. Wild rice really is one of Mother Nature's treasures: it starts off black and cooks to reveal a variety of shapes and colours. I marvelled at it for a long moment before adding it to my recipe.
I usually don't put much effort into presentation, but I felt like being fancy. I pulled out the classy candleholder, the single wine glass (I don't typically drink), and cloth napkins (which I use every day anyway, but of course they're more sophisticated than paper napkins).