4 Great Valentine’s Day dinner ideas to impress if you are proposing

Proposing on Valentine's day

There’s a day each February that is purely for romance. It might be a cold and wet day, but never mind. Valentine’s Day is a chance to celebrate your relationship and the ideal day to make it more permanent by proposing.

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Blue potatoes – or food that you can recognise?

Every time  you see TV catering competitions and programmes the big comment is: cooking which pushes the boundaries. In some cases there are some excellent ideas, especially in using local produce and wild herbs, mushrooms etc. We’re keen on this too as we grow our own fruit and vegetables.

But the idea of pushing the boundaries can be a little concerning.  It’s nothing new as once upon a time, TV chefs such as the late Fanny Craddock pushed the boundaries, way back in the 1960’s. Her dishes consisted of individually  shaped vegetables which were identified as carrots and courgettes (US zuckini).

She also managed to develop blue potatoes. Of course the potatoes were normal spuds, which had been creamed and then given artificial colouring. They looked disgusting , and didn’t really catch on.

One could say the the Heriot catering tradition has generally relied on the Arens family’s belief in the classics. It’s not only that the taste and approach has stood the test of time. The reality is that recipes only remain a constant because people enjoy them.

Standard wholesome produce whether it’s poultry, game, beef, and fish, prepared well, and seasoned with the right spices and herbs are what people want. In an environment where you have family, distinguished guests, and those whom you want to impress, we find the emphasis is on what works and what people enjoy.

As we have talked before, international cuisine and a taste of the local is provided on request. Customising to suit is a skill set our chefs have.

But we tend to work to the following principles.

Experiences are great. As hosts, our clients are focused on satisfaction. So we’ll probably continue to avoid blue potatoes


Eating Italian Style – BBC’s, Two Greedy Italians

You have to hand it to Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo, the stars of the recent BBC series, Two Greedy Italians. They know how to eat. And during this second series of four episodes they managed to get through huge amount of food.

As firmly based London Caterers they have shared two series of  nostalgia in visiting the regions of Italy. There they have eaten the local cuisine in a variety of settings. From the simple cooking of the home, great banquets held at festivals, and the haute cuisine of restaurants. The variety of food on display has been an eyeful and quite amazing.

More to the point, our presenters and renowned chefs, have never skimped on the portions. They ate the food presented to them by local people, irrespective of its rather unique origins. They also cooked their own recipes so we the viewer could take a little learning away from the program. Then they ate their own cooking .

These signori, who are advancing in years, showed an old fashioned respect for food. They scoffed whatever was there. Not to mention the occasional snack in between meals.

The only time they looked a little lightweight was when they attended a special version of eat as much as you can. This was a very local competition, held once a year, for some local big men who were mainly farmers. The objective was to eat their way through several courses in one hour. The winner was the man who had gained the most weight in that session.

To be fair, Antonio and Gennaro put in a good performance as newbies, but the winner gained an impressive 5 kg, after just one hour of solid eating.

There was no indication how much weight the co-hosts had put on during their filming of the series. One can assume it was significant.

We can give ourselves at Heriot Catering a little bit of praise. Antonio and Gennaro would not find our catering to lack the quantity they so clearly enjoy. We would probably discourage too much weight gain in a single session. But if you’re up for it, do ask.

Christmas Catering Rush – Sam’s Log

It’s a little crazy at Heriot Catering HQ this week, what with 9 functions to prepare for, everyone is just a little busy!

We have the European School of Business (ECSP-EAP) 3 days this week. And as it’s Christmas time we are trying out some of our new menus on them.

These clients are the crème de la crème of future business leaders, hailing from all corners of Europe.

On day one they have a Spanish spectacular with a traditional Spanish paella, Rustic chicken Basquaise and patatas fritas.  For Dessert: Spanish oranges poached with white Rioja, cinnamon and Muscovado.

I don’t think you can get more Spanish than that – unless you’re Antonio Banderas.

Day two we have gone Greek.  Gourmet style food with slow cooked Lamb Kleftico, olive baked potatoes, roasted baby aubergines.  The Dessert: Greek lemon cake with lime yoghurt – and – traditional Baklava oozing with honey and nuts. It’s food good enough for the Greek gods.

Day three is all about intense “Italian” with two classic main courses.

Course one: Chicken Cacciatore where it’s all about the creamy sauce, the Pinot Grigio and the cherry tomatoes.
Course two: Braciole, with its thinly sliced beef and  tomato concasse. Appropriately we served the traditional Heriot Tiramisu for dessert.

All racey Italian flavours – bold and exciting!

Did Masterchef influence this choice of words? Probably.