Initially, we thought we would ignore the whole Valentine “thing” but the heart-shaped elephant in the room was too large to sidestep. So here is a list of things to enjoy on Valentine’s Day, alone, as a couple or with a couple of friends.
Watch TV – There is no lack of great shows on the telly (or online) nowadays. For a touch of the genteel and the crave inducing, you can catch the first seven episodes of the “The Great British Baking Show” on PBS, if you live outside of the UK, or on the BBC. Unlike other food shows, there are no screaming judges, no vicious contenders: it’s all very proper. Twelve amateur bakers bake their butts off to get to the finale, under a white tent in the middle of the English countryside (and it does rain most of the time). The judges are mellow and appear to eat vast quantities of cake on camera and, as a bonus, you will want to rush to your kitchen and bake something after just one episode. Doesn’t have to be heart-shaped.
Go to a movie – I was dragged to see “The Theory of Everything” against my will – I am not into bio-pics much, especially ones that combine physical disabilities and scientific theories. But I came out with a smile on my face because how can you not like a story of resilience and imperfect love? And yes, Eddie Redmayne will blow your mind. But if you would rather stay away from anything to do with love, may I suggest “Birdman”? Michael Keaton will not have you wish for a date anytime soon.
Mix a cocktail – And watch the sun go down. After my latest encounter with a cocktail, drinking is not something I will consider on Valentine’s Day. But, with mixologists being the men and women of the hour, I love reading cocktail recipes and imagine what they would taste like.
Here is one invented in honor of Martina Navratilova. No idea why. But it features one of my perennial faves, Pimm’s No. 1.
11/2 oz Gin
3/4th oz Vermouth
1/2 oz Pimm’s No. 1
1 cucumber slice
Stir gin, vermouth, and Pimm’s with ice and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a slice of cucumber. (Recipe courtesy of Lucky Peach).
Make your own chocolate – Yes, you read right, starting with raw beans. Why dump money on fancy boxes of chocolate when you can make your own? Sort of. Apparently making your own chocolate bar is all the rage within a certain foodie set. It seems like an immense bother, one I will earmark for when I run out of books to read. But, hey, if you are into grinding your coffee beans and making your sourdough starter, this might be the next thing for you.
Marathon read – There is nothing better I like to do on a Saturday than curl on the sofa and read for hours. The sheer luxury of it! And why not do it with a friend or a partner who is equally fond of the written word? You will need: an absorbing page turner (The Girl on the Train maybe? not a literary masterpiece but one of those I-need-to-know-how-it-ends kind of book); a bowl of mixed roasted nuts to reach in between chapters; a pot of tea; a companion who will not mind you reading passages aloud at random. Dogs, by the way, make for perfect such companions.