It’s Valentine’s Day.
Don’t panic if this is news to you, we’ve got you covered. Here are some of our favorite dinner and a (romantic) movie duos.
“I’ll have what she’s having.” Was it the deli’s turkey sandwich she ordered and promptly remade to her own liking that put Meg Ryan over the moon in the most famous scene from “When Harry Met Sally”? Since it comes with Russian dressing and slaw, maybe. We think, however, a better Valentine choice might be coconut cake, which she and Harry (Billy Crystal) had at their wedding. Chocolate sauce on the side, of course. And, you’ll definitely want to toast the occasion with a glass of bubbly.
For the oenophiles we suggest the hit film “Sideways” paired with a nice Pinot Noir (because “We are NOT drinking merlot!”) and either salmon, roasted chicken or duck. Starring Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen and Sandra Oh, the movie follows two middle-age friends on their week-long road trip through California’s wine country just as one is about to take a trip down the aisle.
“What do you mean he don’t eat no meat?” asks Aunt Voula in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” stunning an entire room into silence. “Oh, that’s OK. I make lamb.” In this romantic comedy, Nia Vardalos stars as a young Greek woman who falls in love with the non-Greek John Corbett and struggles to get her family to accept him while she comes to terms with her heritage and cultural identity. Experiencing that culture, at least its cuisine, is easy here. Just pop into one of the many Greek-Lebanese restaurants and take home a delicious dinner of lamb, gyros or chicken shawarma with maybe a fried kibbi or some grape leaves for appetizers. And don’t forget the baklava for dessert. Sip on Lebanese tea or possibly a Pinot Noir, Sangiovese or Zinfandel.
What’s more romantic than sharing a pizza with your main squeeze? Just order a pie with your favorite toppings and settle in to watch the award-winning 1987 hit “Moonstruck .” In it, Cher stars as an Italian-American widow who accepts a marriage proposal from her doltish boyfriend then finds herself falling for his younger brother, played by Nicholas Cage. When he proclaims his love, she gives him a good slap and tells him to “Snap out of it!” Pair your pizza with your favorite beer or Zinfandel.
In the same neck of the woods as Greece and Italy is Morocco, where “ Casablanca, ” one of the most romantic movies of all times, plays out. Starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, the 1943 film is set in World War II and focuses on an American expatriate (Bogart) who must choose between his love for a woman and helping her Czech Resistance-leader husband escape the Vichy-controlled city of Casablanca to continue his fight against the Nazis. At the last moment, Bogart’s character makes Bergman’s board the plane with her husband, telling her she would regret it if she stayed. “Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.” You can “Play it again, Sam” with a Greek or Italian menu or grill up a juicy steak served with couscous and end the meal with decadent baklava. Wash it down with a glass of wine or Morocco’s most popular drink — green tea with mint.
You can’t celebrate Valentine’s without chocolate — even if it’s a smooshed Hershey’s Kiss. Letting a piece of chocolate melt in your mouth as you sip a glass of sparkling wine can be quite sensual. Cue up the 2000 film “Chocolat” starring Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche, as expert chocolatier Vianne, whose chocolate creations tempt the residents of the quiet French village. As one villager proclaims, “It melts, God forgive me, it melts ever so slowly on your tongue, and tortures you with pleasure.”
A glass of bubbly, chocolate and strawberries are also the perfect accompaniment to 1990’s “Pretty Woman,” starring Julia Roberts as the prostitute Vivian and Richard Gere as the wealthy businessman Edward. They, of course, fall in love. You might want to listen to a bit of opera before settling down to watch the movie. Who knows, you might like it. Vivian did.
Opera patron: “Did you like the opera, dear?”
Vivian: “It was so good, I almost peed my pants!”
Edward: “She said she liked it better than ‘Pirates of Penzance.’”
Having to share your romantic evening with the kids? No problem. Just make a big pot of spaghetti and meatballs and watch the Disney classic, “Lady and the Tramp.”
That spaghetti scene gets us every time. Sigh.