Valentine's Day — how bittersweet. Oh so long ago, I was a medical assistant student doing clinical work at the local hospital. This is when and where my heart was broken on, of all days, Valentine's Day.

My heart fluttered at the mere thought of the tall, gorgeous, tousled-hair orderly, who had no idea he had stolen my heart or how the anticipation of his smile and friendly hello as we passed in the hallways was my sole motivation for waking up and getting to the hospital each day. I thought every smile and hello was something he only shared with me. I truly believed any day he would ask me out.

Truth be told, he was just a happy-go-lucky nice guy who smiled and said hello to everyone he passed. Nevertheless, I was confident, come Valentine's Day, he would ask me out; after all, dreams come true on Valentine's Day, don't they?

The moment was about to happen: He walked toward me in the hallway, greeting me with a big smile and a friendly hello and ... just kept on walking. That's the bitter. Now the sweet. When I got home that day, there on the kitchen table I found a beautiful heart-shaped box of chocolates and a sweet African violet plant on top. I knew it was my mother's doing. The timing couldn't have been better. I felt loved.

I remember that Valentine's Day not because of unrequited love but because it reminds me that love fills our lives in many ways and all should be celebrated on Valentine's Day and every day.

A candlelight dinner is the epitome of Valentine's Day; an occasion that calls for a dish that is rich and indulgent. But first, a toast to love — a classic cocktail with a floral twist. Perfect!


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Fleur 75

1 oz gin

1/2 oz lemon juice

1/2 oz hibiscus tea

1/4 oz hibiscus simple syrup*

2 dashes grapefruit or orange bitters

Mix all ingredients together and shake vigorously over ice, strain into chilled champagne glass, top with champagne, gently stir. Finish with lemon twist.

*Hibiscus simple syrup is made by simmering equal parts hibiscus tea and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Cool before using.

Scallops Baked in Cream Gremolata

Start with fresh, dry sea scallops, meaning they have no added liquid and were never frozen. Toss scallops in some flour, shake off excess and arrange in a shallow, buttered baking dish just large enough to accommodate them. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour over enough heavy cream to fill 3/4 way up the sides of the scallops. Dot with a bit of butter. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes.

To finish, combine 2 tablespoons of minced fresh parsley, one small garlic clove minced and one teaspoon grated lemon zest. Lightly sprinkle over the scallops and serve.

For dessert, a beautiful heart-shaped box of chocolates!