I’m definitely a lover, but I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day, particularly. I believe that you should show affection for your loved ones every day of the year or on a random day, not just once in February. Going out to restaurants is usually a horrible experience, with couples packed together like sardines at two-tops, prix-fixe menus finishing with predictable chocolate desserts printed in pale pink font. Since Valentine’s Day cannot be avoided, I decided to come up with a few ways to make this Hallmark holiday not only tolerable, but maybe even a little bit special.
You don’t have to have Iron Chef skills to prepare a great meal for your valentine. My winter squash salad and mushroom farro risotto both deliver flavor and gourmet flare without taking a ton of time to prepare. Impress your lover, with my artichoke stuffed artichokes which are guaranteed to please, and you can serve any one of these — or all three — with this apple mezcal cocktail. It’s one of my all-time favorite drinks, and a great way to warm up a winter night. Now, light some candles, turn up the “mood music,” and prepare yourself for an epic post-dinner snuggle.
If you’re short on time, or lack the confidence to cook for Valentine’s Day, you can make a beautiful DIY indoor picnic with ingredients you can pick up. Two of my favorite places in NYC are: Sahadi’s Fine Foods for a baguette, some artisanal chocolates, a selection of fromagerie, and a few scoops from their pickled vegetables display, or Despana, in Soho for a Spanish style spread. Lay it all out on a picnic blanket and put out candles and simple floral arrangements to make it feel like you’re outside on a starry night. Not great with flowers? You can take a workshop at a floral design school like Flower Girl NYC or Poppies & Posies — both offer relatively inexpensive, informal classes that will help you make a beautiful bouquet, even if you can’t tell a poppy from a peony.
Go to a restaurant that won’t make you nauseous.
The best places are the ones that don’t have the prix-fixe menus. Or chose a wine bar or burger joint that serves up creative cocktails and a cozy vibe. I also prefer restaurants that have a happening bar scene and opt to eat right at the counter.
Skip the Eating
If eating isn’t your thing at all (strange) try scheduling a message, couples or not. Or find some romance steaming in the ancient baths and de-stress for your lovely evening ahead. A few of my favorite New York spas are: Haven, Great Jones Spa, and Aire Ancient Baths…
I hope this advice helps guide your evening and gets you thinking outside the typical Valentine’s day box.