Overly expensive pre-fixe meals? Ridiculously huge heart-shaped boxes of chocolates? Unnecessary amounts of red roses? I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a fan of the hoopla surrounding Valentine’s Day. Therefore, in the spirit of celebrating Boston’s simple pleasures, I’ve decided to share a few of my top picks for quality vendors, nibbles, and more that will brighten up your Valentine’s Day in the city, without costing too much. From romantic, to indulgent, to DIY, these places, treats and ideas are special throughout the year, but are also Valentine’s Day appropiate. Please consider this my Valentine’s Day gift to you. Mwah!
ON THE TOWN
Fern/Boston Rose Florist – 225A Massachusetts Ave.
Fern’s website does not do this floral boutique justice. I guess it’s almost a blessing in disguise, especially if you’re not well-versed in the art of buying flowers. The best thing to do is pop over to their tiny shop on Mass Ave. in the Back Bay and see what looks interesting. From exotic to traditional, they always have an abundance of vibrant flowers in stock that are sure to brighten up your day in no time. Plus, picking out something that catches your eye and learning more about the type of flower always makes for a more sincere gift.
The Bar at Sel de la Terre – 774 Boylston Street, Back Bay
Whether you’re single, or in a relationship, the simple elegance of this bar and dim lighting makes it effortlessly cozy and romantic. If I was going to go out on Monday night, this is where I would go. I especially enjoy the French bistro-inspired decor, including the vintage bikes festively strung with Christmas lights. On Mondays from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m., the bar area has mini burger specials, but what really tickles my fancy at Sel de la Terre is the scrumptious bar menu. The duck liver mousse and rosemary pommes frites are heavenly, and I never turn down a dark and stormy to wash it all down. It’s a great venue for a night out without spending a fortune. Just keep in mind that tables are first-come, first-served, so it doesn’t hurt to have a back-up plan on a special occasion.
Sweet – 225 Newbury Street, Back Bay or Zero Brattle Street, Cambridge
Who needs chocolates, when you can indulge in an adorable, yet deliciously indulgent mini cupcake from Sweet? My friends are always delighted when I show up with a dozen at a dinner party or birthday soiree. The most requested by my crew? Red velvet, cappuccino and organic karat. If those flavors don’t hit your sweet spot, the regular sized cupcakes always have interesting flavors and are easy to share.
Irreverent Conversation Hearts
To perk up our apartment for Valentine’s Day, I always create silly conversation hearts out of old magazines. Making them is simple – just as long as you know how to cut a heart shape with scissors! Simply look for interesting colors/patterns and quirky headlines from magazines. Sure, it’s a little childish, but if you find compelling enough phrases, they will generate chuckles and conversation from your house guests. Plus, you can usually make them fairly quickly from 2-3 old magazines. Don’t want to tape them to a wall? I think they would also be adorable adorning a Valentine’s Day table place setting.
At-Home Valentine’s Day Menu
Visitors to this blog know that my roommates and I cherish hosting dinner parties. If you’re not up for going out on Valentine’s Day, why not whip up something yummy at home, even if it’s just for one? Start with a bubbly cocktail that’s not too sweet – a spiked sparkling cider. If you have your heart set on a pink drink, swap cranberry juice for the apple juice in the recipe.
Start your meal with some fantastic Iggy’s baguette, brie and cranberry-apple chutney. Next, serve a fresh raspberry, cucumber, carrot and feta spinach salad, pared down from this recipe. Make your main special, yet festive, with this mouthwatering Bon Appetit recipe for steak with mixed peppercorns and pomegranate glaze. If you haven’t already stopped at Sweet for your dessert, end your meal with either mini tiramisu cupcakes, or mini pumpkin brownie bites.
Happy Valentine’s Day!