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We asked, 'What's your culinary idea of the perfect Valentine's Day?'


Executive chef Nicole Huff displays just a few of the Valentine's goodies available Tuesday at Southern Flour Bakery on Highway 45 North in Columbus. Americans will spend billions on Valentine's Day. A good portion of that will go toward delectable sweets and dining out.

Executive chef Nicole Huff displays just a few of the Valentine's goodies available Tuesday at Southern Flour Bakery on Highway 45 North in Columbus. Americans will spend billions on Valentine's Day. A good portion of that will go toward delectable sweets and dining out. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff


Jan Swoope



With Cupid's big day just a week away, givers, receivers and lovesick shoppers are making their plans. So are bakers, restaurateurs and florists who are preparing for the rush. The National Retail Federation predicts consumers will spend a near-record $19.6 billion on Valentine's Day 2018. A pretty sweet figure, especially considering only an estimated 55 percent of the population actively celebrates.  


Many of those dollars will be spent somehow on foods. More than half of celebrants are likely to give gifts of sweets. About 35.2 percent are predicted to spend dollars on an evening out. In the spirit of the holiday, we asked a sampling of area residents what their culinary ideal on Valentine's Day would be. Here's what they said ...  




"The perfect Valentine's Day dinner would be a steak or nicely grilled fish or salmon with a salad and a baked potato and a dry, red wine. Of course, chocolate in some form is a perfect dessert ... maybe chocolate mousse. I would choose to eat this dinner at The Grill in Starkville, or Harveys in Columbus or at home." 


Jeannie Godbold, Starkville 




"Ideally, (my wife) Pauline and I would keep away from the crowds, stay at home, make a cheese and meat plate (and maybe some Cheetos Puffs), sit down with a bottle of wine, and watch something fun." 


Lee Crouse, Columbus 




"The perfect Valentine evening would be one of two totally different evenings. First would be the simplicity of (my wife) Karen and I having a quiet evening at home watching an old movie classic such as "Casablanca" while indulging in some homemade key lime pie. The drawback to such an evening would be our English setter, Liza, wanting to sit between us on the couch and have a taste of whatever we were eating.  


That then brings the fun alternative of us enjoying a meal with good friends and libations at Broussard's or Anthony's, and finishing it with a dessert and coffee. Coffee, though, with a shot of amaretto and a scoop of ice cream floating in it." 


Rufus Ward, Columbus 




"Sweets! Valentine's is all about sweetness, and I love to have gorgeous cupcakes or cookies, or maybe a special cake, to put on the table that night when my family sits down to supper. I also always get at least a couple dozen Valentine's Day cookies -- we have some good bakeries around making some mighty pretty ones -- to divide up in little cellophane bags tied up with ribbon, just little happies for some older neighbors and friends who don't have family around."  


Holly Ward, Clay County 




"When Valentine's Day falls on a weekday, my husband and I typically opt for a lunch date at a local restaurant with hopes of avoiding crowds. However, if there is an opportunity for us to get away for the weekend, we jaunt to Birmingham for some downtime. Our nieces have given us a list of restaurants to try. Any meal that involves shrimp and maybe steak -- or both -- and some quiet time makes the perfect dinner date. No cleanup is the icing on the cake!" 


Anika Perkins, Columbus 




"I would love to start the morning of Valentine's Day with a stroll with my husband of 44 years to a local breakfast location, enjoying the early morning sounds and scenery on the beginning of a special day. Over a special breakfast of my favorite oodles of hash browns with a very good cup of Earl Grey hot tea, we would probably discuss one of his most special topics -- MSU sports, as baseball season (his favorite) would be around the corner, basketball is ferociously bouncing along, and football season ticket orders should be arriving soon. There would be a vase of daisies on the table for me to take to my office to remind me how blessed I am to have "my special guy" in my life."  


Candy Crecink, Starkville 




"My idea of the perfect Valentine meal is getting all dressed up with my husband to go to a great restaurant and being able to eat something that I don't get to eat often, like lobster tails, scallops and, of course, indulging in desserts. I'm picturing a tasting tray with all of my favorite desserts: cheesecake, petit fours and lots of chocolate truffles.  


I love to be surprised. However, I usually mess up the surprise by asking lots of questions because I kind of hate surprises, too.  


Usually my husband and I try to plan something together. The great thing about us is that we like most of the same foods, and he loves to see me happy, so I usually get what I want." 


Janie Shields, Columbus 




Sharing your wish for Valentine's Day edibles with a significant other is probably the best way to make it happen. But there's nothing to stop any of us from creating an experience for ourselves, as evidenced by another National Retail Federation statistic: About three in 10 adult consumers who indicate they are not "celebrating" this year still have some type of plans. They range from treating themselves to "something special" or purchasing "anti-Valentine's" gifts, to planning get-togethers with family and friends. Why waste a perfectly good holiday?


Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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