Some restaurants will try to pack in extra seatings, exercising crowd control by offering a menu with more limited options. They may also attempt to entice customers with a prix fixe menu. This rarely equals a bargain and sometimes is more expensive than their normal offerings. For these reasons, Gary and I usually avoid dining out on February 14th like the plague.
photo by jakub at foodiesfeed
Send your valentine on a foodie adventure. Think scavenger hunt combined with food tour. Scout out local food haunts — speciality food stores, home and kitchen shops, quick dining options — and plan a self-guided “tour” for you and your valentine. Make it a little more mysterious with a series of clues your loved one has to solve to find the next stop on the tour. Great local stops include Able Baker and Palmer’s Sweetery & Cafe in Maplewood, Kitchen a la Mode in South Orange, Sweet Nothings or the Summit Cheese Shop in Summit, Olive That and More in Montclair, or Patricia & Paul in Westfield.
“sweet candies store” by jakub at foodiesfeed
Cook dinner with your valentine at home. We love cooking together in our beautiful kitchen. It’s relaxing, we get to listen to music and talk, and of course, enjoy our ever-growing wine collection. The opportunity for an impromptu slow dance just doesn’t present itself often at a restaurant. Plan the menu, grocery shop, cook, and do the dishes together while you reconnect. If you have children, arrange for an offsite babysitter — perhaps consider a “swap” of evenings with local friends.
“raw salmon fillets” by jakub at foodiesfeed
Celebrate all your valentines with a family picnic. No babysitter? Order take out and have a Valentine’s Day picnic, complete with blankets, pillows, and optional roaring fire for all the valentines in your life. If your kids are anything like mine, they’ll eat it up. And what better way to show them what love looks like?
“colorful sushi in a black box” by jakub at foodiesfeed
Take a cooking class with your valentine. We always have more fun when we learn something new together. This option is perfect if you can’t [or don’t want to] celebrate on February 14th — just arrange the class on another day. We like the classes at the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan, or you can try Classic Thyme in Westfield. King’s Supermarkets also offers cooking classes at their cooking studio in Short Hills.
“tagliatelle” by jakub at foodiesfeed
Surprise your valentine with a short trip to a foodie destination. This is a little less of a departure from the fancy restaurant option, but it’s pretty special and usually very appreciated. Even better if you can make it a surprise. There are two great local options that are close enough to make just one night away practical that have fantastic restaurants right in the hotel: The Bernards Inn in Bernardsville, NJ, and the Grand Cascades Lodge in Hamburg, NJ. The Bernards Inn Restaurant and Restaurant Latour are some of the best-loved restaurants in the state.
Choose a restaurant special to just you and your valentine. Maybe it’s the your first date coffee shop, or the bar where you first locked eyes. Or just your absolute favorite burger joint. Show your valentine you remembered and pick something a little less expected, but far more memorable.
“mobile coffee” by jakub at foodiesfeed
Pair wine and chocolate with your valentine. Another home-based option — arrange a dessert tasting of wine and chocolates. If your valentine is like mine, add some port into the mix. Some great pairings to try: a shiraz with creamy milk chocolate, dark chocolate with a late harvest zinfandel, caramel chocolate with tawny port, white chocolate and a ruby port, or a cream sherry with salted chocolate.
photo by yoori koo via unsplash
How do you show a little love to your foodie valentine? Give us all more ideas to try in the comments section below. Follow foodwithaview.com on Facebook or my culinary adventures board on Pinterest to see how the big day turns out!