With Valentine’s falling on a monday this year I decided here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House near Gubbio in Umbria, to start the celebrations tonight as guys have managed to take the weekend off and most will have to leave tomorrow to be back at work, so I am cooking a romantic Red St Valentines’s Dinner, but in keeping with the tradition here at Bellaugello we will all be sitting at dinner together around my big antique family dining-table.  You may reason it is not very romantic, but how are you to know if all the guests are couples or singles!!!………

Today the weather changed, we have been experiencing balmy spring days with uninterrupted sunshine and temperatures reaching the low twenties ºc, but last night the clouds came over and this morning I woke to a mist covered world.

It is not cold, it is just misty, you can’t see far and all is silence, and what an excuse for a lazy day in bed watching dvds or using the wireless internet connections in all the suites and surfing the web, or quite simply relaxing in a cozy armchair with a good book or game of scrabble infront of a roaring log fire, either in a suite or the dining room, or sweating in the finnish sauna, it is certainly a day for doing little and not straying far from the comfort of Bellaugello Gay B&B

Anyway back to dinner.  I have always loved cooking and entertaining, and have in The past thought up whacky themed dinners.  (the murder-mystery dinner at Christmas was a roaring success!), these included colour themes and I have been known to host blue dinners, orange dinners and red dinners.  Now some colours are decidedly difficult – green dinners are fine for vegans but not of much appeal to others, and my attempt at a black dinner was not overly-successful as I resorted to squid ink pasta with some very dark sauce, charcoal grilled sausages and slow cooked venison in a thick black juniper sauce, caremelised root vegetables and for pud, crème caramel with the caramel through the crème (not a success).  I must admit there was a vague but distinctly present underlying taste of charcoal and blackjack throughout the meal, made somewhat worse if I admit publicly to serving ‘Black Tower Liebfraumilch’ (a particularly nasty screw-top wine thankfully probably only found in the ‘deli’s’ in the back streets of Dumfries!) – do they make black wine? I thought full bodied reds not to be black enough and I wasn’t going to ruin them with the addition of blackjack, I just adore Amarone and Brunellos and rich clarets.  I did find black candles, and napkins and black glasses, and all the guests wore black and now I think about it the Guinness cocktails were excellent… hmm perhaps I could refine that a bit and try again someday…….

However tonight is different it is a romatic red dinner.  This time I have not insisted that all guests wear red, but the dining room is adorned with red candles, out have come my special red wine glasses and tumblers, red napkins, red tablecloth and of course red roses. We start with a hot tomato soufflé, followed by beetroot linguine with crayfish, then poached fillet of salmon (ok – stretching the red there a little bit) with timbales of wild red rice and radicchio salad, then finishing off with cranberry  pancakes with  raspberry sauce.  My choice of wines are all red, and from either Umbria or Toscana including a particularly heavenly sweet red from near Lucca,  Red roses adorn the table centres, we are in for a magical romantic evening here…. and yes, there will be chocolates on the pillows tonight!

A tutti i mei carissimi amici vi auguro “Felice San Valentino”

To all of you throughout the world I wish you a very Happy romantic St Valentine’s day, (especially romantic for two special friends M & R in London who recently made public very exciting happy news xx) Currently  I have many friends holidaying in Malaysia, China and Thailand and other points east, they will wake up to Valentines before me, so I feel less guilty serving my valentine’s dinner NOW!!!! – must dash…….

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