It always seems a shame that Valentine’s Day has stopped being about sending secret tokens of admiration and mysterious cards signed with a “?”. The delicious enigmas and exciting confessions weren’t supposed to be for couples – they already knew they fancied each other – it was a day of annual courage for lovelorn singletons, hoping their ardour would at last be reciprocated.
Now that couples have hijacked it, Valentine’s Day has become synonymous with public smooching in overcrowded restaurants and teddy bears covered in hearts. There’s something very unnerving about the commercial aesthetic of romance these days. On the weeks leading up to the 14th February, everything becomes pink and fluffy and our eyes are assaulted by cheap heart-shaped tat at every turn. It’s like a 10 year old girl’s bedroom has exploded all over the high street.
Having said that, I hate missing a party and if there’s an excuse for a celebration I don’t want to be left out. I know it’s cooler to turn your nose up at Valentine’s Day altogether, as yet another commercially driven exploit to separate us from more of our hard earned cash, but I don’t really care about any of that. I embrace Valentine’s Day in the same way I embrace Father’s Day and all the other toshy made up reasons to wrap up a gift or send a card. As half of a couple, the thing I always snub on Valentine’s Day is dinner out.
It’s always nice to support your favourite local independent restaurants, but for the most part, dinner out on Valentine's Day is the least romantic restaurant experience of the year. Endless tables for two, crammed together so tight, you’re practically sitting on the next couples’ laps, while being forced to choose from an overpriced "romantic" menu that’s less appealing than their usual fare.
Romance, to me, is in the thought and effort you make for someone else and in the thought and effort they make for you in return. It's easy if you've got the cash to splash out on expensive jewellery, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and a dozen red roses. You can do the whole weekend away, Champagne breakfast, diamonds and satin sheets thing if you like. You can even get a vulgar teddy holding a heart and I won't judge you (I will). There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of it (except for the teddy). But it doesn't take much effort to get the plastic out if you've got the funds in your bank account. If you haven't (or even if you have), a thoughtful meal at home, lovingly prepared and shared, is what I call a perfect Valentine’s dinner for two. Keep your smug snogging inside your own doors and leave the restaurant tables for the sweetly awkward first dates of all those hopeful singles. It’s their day out there, it’s time for us couples to stay indoors.
My boyfriend is cooking our main course, we’re doing the starter together and I’m making the pud’. That’s what I call romance and there won’t be a fluffy heart in sight.
These gluten free tarts include a hidden layer of salted pistachio caramel, which is just as sexy as it sounds.