BY PALOMA LACY
This Valentine’s Day will be like no other.
With no restaurants open for dining in, it means there’ll be no debate over whether to go out and celebrate.
Valentine’s Day is one of those days that everyone claims not to be bothered by but is secretly loved.
South London is in luck because since lockdown became part of our lives, restaurants and food companies have pulled out all the stops to create at-home dining experiences as good as going out.
Here are some of the best on offer but you’d better get in there quickly as some only deliver once a week.
The first is a high-end offering from an ex-Gordon Ramsay chef, with accreditation from the Great Taste Awards.
Noble House Prepared offers high quality three course meals that arrive frozen, ready for defrosting and popping into the oven.
Or order in advance and keep in the freezer. This is an easy way to bring fine dining into your home but without the prohibitive price tag.
Valentine’s Day menu is predictably rather special, and let’s face it, one that is not within the skills set of many home cooks.
It begins with a deliciously light starter of Formans’ hand-sliced Scottish smoked salmon, which has been served at the Dorchester Hotel in central London since the 1930s.
To follow, decadent Chateaubriand fillet of beef with a red wine jus, coupled with creamy dauphinoise potatoes, honey and five spice roasted Chantenay carrots, and tender broccoli and French green beans.
To finish, British cheesecake with passion fruit jelly (a comfortingly creamy no-bake vanilla cheesecake topped with a refreshing juicy jelly).
RRP: £64.95. www.noblehouseprepared.com
Borough Market stalwart Arabica’s Feast For Beirut kit, is nothing short of sensational.
It is a collection of Middle Eastern favourites, the perfect dining experience.
Delicious hot and cold mezze selection to start, including crunchy pickles, Hummus Beiruti (super charged hummus with sweet peppers, red chilli, garlic and roasted chickpeas), Baba Ghanoush (smoked aubergine with tahini, pomegranate, parsley), Tabbouleh (parsley, mint, cucumber, tomato, spring onion, cracked wheat, olive oil, lemon, Grilled Halloumi (dressed with Turkish dried mint, lemon, olive oil), Pumpkin Kibbeh (Lebanese croquette with caramelised onion, walnuts and pomegranate molasses), all served with pitta bread.
Most of the hard work is done for you, with a tiny bit of preparation and cooking involved.
There’s plenty of food before even getting to the main course – Arabic Beef Stew – which you may want to save until the next day or so.
It’ll keep in the fridge or even pop it in the freezer.
This makes the £50 price tag all the more palatable, stretching the menu to two meals for two people. And not forgetting the dainty dish of baklava that’s included.
This particular mezze was vegetarian but there are plenty of meat options.
RRP: £50. www.arabicalondon.com
Dry pasta is the obvious choice with many questioning the price and quality pay off of the fresh stuff.
The Little Pasta Company will convert even the most sceptical.
These fresh pasta parcels, include beef ragu with pappardelle.
There’s wonderfully rich and tasty ragu that someone else has spent hours cooking and takes five minutes to heat through on the stove, as you boil the pasta.
It comes with grated parmesan so that’s dinner sorted in a jiffy.
All that’s left to do is pour a glass of red to go with it.
It’s nice to see so many veggie options, too, like tagliatelle with white truffle butter, and maccheroni with tenderstem broccoli and chilli with breadcrumbs.
Pasta is handmade and delivered by post. A nice range of antipasti, including burrata, cured Italian meats, rocket and pine nuts with a balsamic dressing is available to complete the meal and is included alongside a pasta dish of choice as part of the Date Night Kit.
RRP: £18. 37 Restaurant meal kits can be found on www.plateaway.com.
Thai food lovers will be pleased to know that Rosa’s Thai Café has launched a range of restaurant kits via a third party.
The famous stir-fried rice noodles that is Thailand’s national dish, Pad Thai, is a corker of a dish to choose.
It includes one of founder Saiphin’s favourite ingredients from her hometown in Petcahbun – sweet and sour tamarind.
The kit includes ingredients to make the dish for four people, but it made six portions.
Inside are seriously juicy super king-size prawns, Rosa’s Pad Thai sauce, dried rice noodles, dried turnips, beansprouts, spring onion and lime.
There are lots of tips for home cooks – customers just need to supply their own eggs to complete the dish.
If there are fewer than four in a household, don’t worry – the leftover ingredients will last to make another fresh and fragrant Pad Thai the next day.
Each kit contains a QR link to a step-by-step cooking video, hosted by Saiphin, so customers can rest assured that they’re in the safe hands, with a little assistance in the kitchen.
Main Pic: Noble House’s harissa and pomegranate chicken
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