A Night's Delight & A Breakfast to RememberReservations

“Whipping Up Some Last-Minute Romance”

An Elegant Breakfast (For Dinner) Can Say ‘I Love You’
By Nicole Barbano

Valentine’s Day is the day designed to create lovely memories for the year to come. Call it the New Year of Love if you will. Ringing it in with your sweetheart can be as simple or elaborate as you prefer, but remember, the more thought you put in, the better — anyone can stop at Wal-Mart for a red rose in some cellophane.

If you still haven’t got a clue as to what to do with your honey, we can help. Follow the advice of those who know best. Bed and breakfast innkeepers and craft store veterans both agree that food is the easiest way to the heart, and this year, breakfast might be just what wins over your partner’s palate.

Only instead of serving it in the morning, when the rush to get to work is on, try cooking up a romantic breakfast at night for a memorable and relaxing way to wind down the day

Heart-shaped pancakes say “I love you” without a lot of planning or preparation. An elegant breakfast served for dinner can save the day for people who forgot to plan a treat for their sweetheart.

Love At First Sight

Breakfast at night has its benefits. There’s less of a rush, more time to enjoy the food and company, and the benefit of being able to add richer selections that might not fly first thing in the morning.

Champagne, chocolates and rich, near-sinful indulgences like bacon and sausage can all be incorporated into a cozy meal to remember. Best of all, it only takes a few pots to whip up breakfast and there’s no need to wash dishes when elegant disposable dinnerware is used.

“When you fix something for somebody else, that is romantic right there,” says Dianna Chandler, owner of Grandma’s Cottage Bed and Breakfast in Port Republic. “That is the whole blessing right there — the time and the thoughtfulness you put in.”

Having been married to her husband for 37 years, Chandler knows a thing or two about keeping romance alive. And her advice to those interested in making a breakfast to remember is time-tested. First, she insists, focus on the presentation — whether simple or fancy.

“Pick pretty plates, crystal goblets, pretty placemats and flowers. And it doesn’t have to be anything expensive. Cut construction paper in the shape of a heart for a placemat,” she suggests, or sprinkle the table with heart shaped shimmering confetti.

Her logic regarding the visual aspect of the meal applies to the food as well.

“Remember, anything that’s pretty and pleasing to the eye is usually pretty and pleasing to the palate,” Chandler says. For this she recommends using fresh ingredients with a pop of color to them, as with her recipe for Strawberries and Cream Stuffed French Toast; fresh strawberries in the middle look and taste wonderful.

Donna Shifflett, assistant manager at Michaels arts and crafts store in Harrisonburg, recommends other ways to spruce up presentation.

The store is currently stocked with heart shaped cake pans, cookie cutters, sprinkles and cupcake wrappers that Shifflett says can add a little something to the breakfast plate when used with some creativity.

Adding these elements to the meal can make it more special, she says. “When you’re going to take the time to do something for someone you love, [adding the extra touch] does make it more special. You can personalize it.”

Shifflett recommends using heart-shaped cookie cutters on pancakes for a special touch or garnishing the table with heart-shaped candies.

These heart-themed items can also be used year round, Shifflett says, whenever you want to show your love.

What To Make

“The whole experience (of breakfast) is one of intimacy,” says Wayne Engel, owner and innkeeper of the Stonewall Jackson Inn Bed and Breakfast in Harrisonburg. The motto at his B&B is “A night’s delight — a breakfast to remember.”

“The breakfast is an afterglow,” for couples, explains Engel. “And it’s also an elegant meal because it’s usually on the light side as opposed to a heavy dinner.” Moving that meal from a busy weekday morning to dinnertime increases the possibilities for elegance and variety.

Both he and Chandler recommend a French toast dish as a romantic idea, and the two agree white bread won’t make the cut.

“Make French toast out of a croissant,” says Engel. “That really makes a pretty exotic breakfast that’s also easy to do.”

Chandler suggests filling the croissant French toast with a sweetened cream cheese mixture and fresh fruit, specifically strawberries. “Strawberries are always romantic,” says Chandler. “Everybody likes strawberries.”

Top the meal off with warm strawberry-maple syrup, baked bacon twists dipped in brown sugar and two flutes full of chilled champagne for an evening to remember this Valentine’s Day.