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I’m pretty sure no beverage expert would ever tell you to pair pina coladas with British food, and then chase it with a hot chocolate.

Oh well.

That’s what we did for Valentine’s Day in my apartment. And I have to say it all tasted pretty delicious.

As I mentioned last week, our Valentine’s Day tradition revolves around creating a meal that reflects our last year together.

Let the record reflect that the last 12 months of food for us has been pretty dang awesome.

It didn’t hurt that in the last nine months, we’ve been to: Hawaii, London, Paris, Berlin and Prague. So in a year where we’ve been incredibly blessed, we had a lot of memorable meals to choose from this Valentine’s Day.

Bryan and I each took two of the following: drink, appetizer, main dish, dessert.

Due to the volume of food, we decided to split this into two nights. On Monday, Bryan made some shrimp and scallop appetizers that were similar to one at an Argentinean restaurant around the corner from our apartment. That meal we had on my birthday instantly became one of favorite meals ever.

(my running shoes, apparently, also wanted to get in on this photo)

Bryan also made a (gluten free!) brownie, ice cream and caramel sauce dessert to pay tribute to our trip to Kailua-Kona on the Big Island. You know a place is good when you eat there twice in a one-week vacation. Jackie Reys, please relocate to Pasadena.

This year, I took on the drink and the main dish. I decided on going with a meal we had in London at the end of November.

Sigh. I miss you London.

We were fortunate enough to just to visit London, but even more fortunate to stay with some friends who really took care of us while we were there. They showed us a side of London we never would have seen otherwise in a such a short three-day visit.

One night, they took us with their 2-year-old son and newborn daughter over to Covent Garden to a restaurant called Porters for dinner.

Their menu features traditional British food. And homemade ice cream. So yes, I was interested. And happy.

I ordered a steak, Guinness and mushroom pie. I intended to make that for Valentine’s Day, but never quite got to making a gluten free puff pastry. I got a little too ambitious. So, it was more like a steak, gluten free beer, and mushroom stew.

I also made these:

Mustard mashed potatoes, which we also ate at Porters.

By the end, I decided to throw the potatoes on top of the stew. So good. So soul warming. Even if this dish doesn’t win a pretty award.

Nothing I do will win a pretty award. I’ve come to terms with that.

I also made a round of hot chocolate that mimicked what we drank in Paris and all over Europe to try and stay warm. If there is one thing Europe just destroys America in, it’s hot chocolate. I know, there’s probably a couple of other things too. But they really embarrass us in the hot chocolate department. The other stuff on the list isn’t quite so egregious.

Chocolate is the only way to finish off a night. That’s what I say.

So thankful for the last year with Bryan, and so thankful for the year in food.

Hope everyone ate well on Valentine’s Day!

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