Back in the dark ages when I was a child, kids exchanged Valentines with everyone in their class. These valentines often featured corny puns or goofy riddles.
So in the spirit of this old-fashioned tradition, I ask, “What is black and white and red all over?” The answer: my Valentine’s tablescape.
After just finishing up removing all of the Christmas red from my winter decor, I now find myself adding quite a bit of red back to my kitchen dining area to create a small but special Valentine’s dinner party for the folks in my COVID bubble.
The difference between an everyday dinner party and a celebratory dinner party (in my opinion) is decorations. So, with that in mind, my Valentine’s tablescape began with decorating the chandelier. I started by hanging alternating red and cream laser-cut wooden hearts from the light fixture with narrow black and white checked ribbon.
A black linen tablecloth creates a dramatic backdrop for the table setting and allows the black and white checked and red elements to pop. Layered on top of the tablecloth, wide red ribbon and bold black and white buffalo plaid wrapping paper serve as a colorful and inexpensive table runner.
To create a red, black, and white centerpiece, I chose red and white carnations and red gerbera daisies with black centers. This layered arrangement of massed blooms echoes the layered effect of the table “linens.”
Like the red ribbon on the runner, the adorable red heart ramekins pop off the black and white plaid salad plates.
Buffalo plaid napkins and metal filigree heart napkin rings coordinate perfectly with the wooden heart ornaments.
Red pressed glass goblets and clear vintage glass champagne flutes add sparkle while keeping the color scheme going.
Candles always add a note of romance and elegance to any dinner table. So, the addition of a number of votives in different red and white votive holders was a must. The rest of the table decoration consists of a couple of jars of colorful jellybeans and a scattering of the wooden hearts.
As crazy as I am, I do not decorate my whole house for Valentine’s Day. But since the sideboard is right next to the table, of course, it has to be decorated too. On each side of the buffet, I placed groupings of red and white lanterns. The charming red house luminaries are from Michaels’ Christmas collection a few years ago. In the center of the buffet, I displayed a large black and white platter adorned with a striking red heart wreath.
If you don’t feel like cooking, it is nice to support your local restaurants during these difficult financial times by ordering a take-out Valentine dinner. However, we have done this quite a bit lately, so I am planning to show my family some love on Valentine’s Day by cooking. Below is my menu with links to the recipes I’ll be using.
Poached Pear Salad With Goat Cheese And Sherry Vinaigrette
- 1 bottle dry red wine
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp crystallized ginger chopped
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 Bosc pears, pealed, halved lengthwise, and cored
- 1 package baby arugula
- 1 cup halved toasted pecans
- 5 oz. crumbled goat cheese
- ½ cup dried tart cherries
- ¼ cup sherry vinegar
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- ½ cup olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
Bring the first 5 ingredients to boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add pear halves. Return to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until pears soften, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely in the syrup cover and chill.
Drain pears. Slice each pear lengthwise into thin slices.
Vinaigrette and Salad
Whisk vinegar, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl. Slowly add the olive oil and whisk until emulsified.
Toast pecans in a dry skillet until you can smell them.
Place arugula, pecans, goat cheese, and dried cherries in a large bowl. Toss with vinaigrette to coat. Portion out the salad on plates, and top with the poached pears arranged in a fan.
If Valentine’s Day during a pandemic seems like a riddle you can’t figure out, I hope that this black and white and red all over tablescape and dinner party menu provides you with inspiration to come up with your own Valentine solution.
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