Wow! I can’t believe that Valentine’s Day is looming on the calendar again – Tempus Fugit!
Of course, all the restaurants and pubs are promoting their special Valentine’s dinners, and very good some of them sound. But for many of us, a cosy night in together is the perfect way to celebrate…
The supermarkets are promoting their special meals, as well as in some places large bunches of roses at very surprisingly low prices. Marks & Spencer is again doing a ‘Dine in’ meal deal at £20 that includes delicious starters such as coquilles St Jacques, mains including steaks, or dishes from the excellent Gastropub range, indulgent dessert choices, plus a box of chocolate hearts and a bottle of wine (including fizz – or soft drink alternatives too). One wonders how they can do it for the money! Incidentally, M&S also has interestingly named ‘love sausages’ on sale for Valentine’s. These truffle-infused, bacon-wrapped, heart-shaped bangers (£5 a pair) will certainly cause a stir at breakfast!
But how about supporting some of our lovely local independent shops? Sophie at The Bloomery, in Church Street, is happy to provide a romantic floral gift for any budget (she has lovely English red tulips for just £6 a bunch). Pop into Il Corto or Ricardo’s Cellar for a nice treat to accompany those flowers and not only will you have given your loved one a really individual gift, but you can feel good about helping support local businesses. The same applies to most high streets in the country. And while you’re on the independent trail, check out Sandys for some seafood and Michael Brown the new butcher next door, who has all manner of meats from suppliers who support good husbandry.
On the subject of fizz, there is some very decent low-cost champagne on the market now, as well as very acceptable sparkling wine. Aldi has a Veuve Monsigny Champagne Rosé (£16.99, 75cl). It is excellent value, has elegant complexity, good bottle age and length. Tesco Finest Crémant de Limoux Rosé 2017 is on special offer till February 14 at £10 a bottle and makes a great value alternative to champagne. But again, visit your local independent wine merchant and they should be happy to recommend wines for you, whatever your budget.
And if you have been tempted to buy one of the many different pink gins currently on the market, try using it to make a spritzer – either with just soda, or some inexpensive fizz – it is really rather special and makes a pretty Valentine’s cocktail. So often the tonic drowns the delicate flavour of the gin itself. My favourites are Mermaid Pink Gin and Pinkster, but some of the low priced, and own-label ones from places like Aldi and Lidl are very good too.
And chocolate is always a welcome present – Divine is one of my favourites and the name itself makes it the perfect Valentine’s gift! Widely available (£4 Oxfam, Waitrose) these milk chocolate hearts are lovely. Also available in dark or white chocolate with strawberry if you want to ring the changes – or better still, give all three!
But maybe your love is on a diet or doesn’t drink alcohol, and you need to order a gift online? A Jing Tea romantic raspberry & rose tea gift set (from £28) will be a fabulous gift. This tea is pretty – and delicious – with real rosebuds, and also very good as a cold infused tea.
Of course, if you want your love to continue to grow, and even enjoy feeding on it later in the year, maybe consider a kit that contains everything needed to grow the seeds successfully.
I rather like the look of the Edgy Veggies Gift Seed Kit which has six easy-to-grow veggies: purple haze carrots, Turkish Turban Squash, colourful beetroots, chocolate sweet pepper, multi-coloured Swiss chards and Tigrella tomatoes £14.95 Sow Lush gift seed kits are available via Amazon.com (UK and EU delivery only) and are eligible for Amazon Prime.
Whatever your plans for Valentine’s weekend, enjoy yourselves and keep spreading that love!