Fondue For Two with Goodwill
By Melissa Massello, ShoestringMag.com
I love going out to restaurants more than the average bear, but on special occasions like Valentine's Day, it can be impossible to get a reservation -- and if you do, you might pay more than you normally would for rushed/reduced service. Which is why my husband and I have traditions for celebrating special occasions at home, and save the fancy dinners for date night celebrations that aren't shared with everyone else, like our anniversary or a job promotion.
A few years ago, we started making fondue at home for Valentine's Day, and it's become our little indulgent ritual. We dress up for no one but each other, we pop a bottle of bubbly, and make this classic cheese fondue from Formaggio Kitchen, Julia Child's favorite cheesemongers (recipe on Shoestring).
I love fondue for two because it's simple and super filling -- especially if you get a nice spread of things to dip in it, like broccoli and bread for cheese fondue, or a variety of fruits and baked treats for chocolate fondue. (Watch this video with The Melting Pot on Good Day Austin for chocolate fondue recipes & tips.)
Fondue is also a more active and engaging meal than sitting down for a prepared plate, and enjoying it encourages a lot more conversation without phones, something I think every couple or group of friends needs more of these days -- making it the perfect fit for a day when we're supposed to acknowledge the special people in our lives and express our love and gratitude for each other. It's also kind of silly, because there's no doubt you're going to drip or drop something at some point, and that's half the fun. True intimacy is being goofy and vulnerable around each other, amiright?
Not to mention, ahem, finding a barely-used or brand-new fondue set at Goodwill for just a few bucks is pretty much a piece of cake. I found these recently in a single trip to the South Lamar Store!
For our fondue spread, I also found the various sizes of glass Pyrex bowls at Austin Goodwill over the past few months ($2-5 each), and you may remember the fancy crystal Champagne glasses ($1.99/stem) and white porcelain buffet plates ($1 each), all from the Lake Austin Boulevard Store, from our Thanksgiving and Holiday inspiration posts.
Another of our favorite traditions is to roast marshmallows around the fire pit and make s'mores, and thanks to indoor s'mores sets like this one I found for $12.99 at the North Lamar Store, you can enjoy them year-round at the table -- another fab idea for a Valentine's Day treat! We even found gluten-free graham crackers at H-E-B, chocolate-covered marshmallows at Trader Joe's and Apotheker's Kitchen (one fewer step!), and these fabulous wood-handled s'mores skewers at Eat Boutique. S'more new traditions to love!