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Valentine’s Day Date Ideas For Every Budget

Alternatives to going out to a restaurant.


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Valentine's Day is looming-- the holiday that can strike fear in the hearts of men. What should you get your significant other? The usual candy and flowers? And where will you take her? The usual restaurant? Better hope they're not already booked. But fear not guys, here are some suggestions to make this year more original and memorable.

You don’t have to go out to a restaurant on Valentine’s Day to impress your significant other. Hire a personal/private chef if you have the flow and/or don’t have the time to cook that meal yourself. It’s exclusive, romantic and can be very delicious. The best thing about having a private chef come to your or her home is that you can spend more time with your date. Search the internet for a personal chef and make sure you get some referrals before you commit. You may also be able to find a student recommended from a local culinary school. She will be REALLY impressed with this idea.

Another great idea is to take her to a romantic cooking class. It gets you out of the house and it can be a really fun way to get to know a gal who you may not know too well. There are a lot of cooking schools/classes that offer romantic cooking courses. For example, in Los Angeles, Chef Eric’s Culinary Classroom offers a “Couples Romantic Cooking Party.” For $200 per couple, you bring a bottle of wine and learn to cook an amazing dinner together. Chef Eric is one of the best instructors in Los Angeles. I know this because I studied under him in his professional course eight years ago. In Toronto, the LCBO offers up “A Sweetheart Dinner” course for $85. The LCBO also has a lot of great wine tasting other cooking classes and events. Check them out!

Would you like to cook up some exotic cuisines at home, but are intimidated? If you have the time, order a great “cooking by numbers dinner” recipe kit. These kits come with herbs, spices, sauces and easy directions. For $25-$30 plus the cost of fresh ingredients you can create an international dish from South Korea to Lebanon. Check out our full review of Destination Dinners.

Wallet a bit thin? The cheapest and most romantic thing you can do on Valentine’s Day is cook for your date. Check out our menus and recipe sections for some easy to make concoctions that should have your date screaming for more. This salmon dish is sensational and anyone cane make it! Check out the complete tutorial from setting the dinner table to music and drink suggestions.

Since my significant other pretty much gets a gourmet meal a few times a week, I have to do a little more than make lobster risotto to impress her these days. In the past, I have surprised her by creating a soothing, romantic atmosphere, in addition to cooking. One year when she came home from work, I left a note on the floor that told her to follow a path of rose petals I had sprinkled earlier. The path led to a candle lit, steaming, bubble bath accompanied with her own personal bottle of Champagne. (FYI I had boiled hot water on reserve to keep the bath water hot enough.) I made her dinner while she sipped on fizz, submerged in the warm waters.

If you’re on strict budget, you don’t have to cook a complete meal. Serve her some fresh strawberries and some cheeses and she may invite you into her bubbles. Forgo the rose pedals and lay a blanket down in the living room and have your own picnic at home.

If you’re out of town, sending flowers and a box of chocolates never hurts. I am going to be out of town this year, so I am going to give her a tin filled with homemade Wild Berry Chocolate Clusters. I am going to use half a tablespoon of fresh blueberries combined with half a tablespoon of fresh raspberries or whatever other berry looks good to make dollar coin sized clusters.

Ingredients:
• 1 large bar of good quality 70% dark chocolate
• 1 small container of fresh blueberries
• 1 small container of fresh raspberries
• Pinch of cinnamon (optional)
• A few red pepper flakes (optional)

Equipment:

• Double boiler (simmering water in a pot and a glass bowl that sits in the pot, but
does not touch the water)
• Tray covered with parchment paper or plastic container with parchment paper
• Rubber spatula
• Measuring spoon

Directions:
1.) Bring double boiler to a simmer.

2.) Chop chocolate into small pieces, place in double boiler and melt completely.

3.) Using a measuring spoon, combine both types of berries and dip in chocolate until covered.

4.) With the spatula place clusters on parchment paper tray.

5.) Keep covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve.




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