Treat your valentine to fine dining and wine
Feb 04, 2014 | 5930 views |  0 comments | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As Valentine’s Day approaches, a box of chocolates might not be the best choice for those recovering from shock after viewing the numbers on bathroom scales with disbelief. Americans spent an approximate $1.6 billion on chocolate last year and another $17 billion on Valentine accoutrement. For the clueless, this is a gentle reminder that come Feb. 14, some token gift might be in order for casual acquaintances and loved ones in remembrance of a martyred St. Valentine — though we don’t know for certain which one because there were several.

That we celebrate this day of love in February is rooted in history. Ancient civilizations held festivals celebrating the rites of spring in February, like the Roman festival of Lupercalia during which priests ran through the streets of Rome holding skins from slaughtered goats aloft. Females of child-bearing age ran into the streets to touch the goat skins believing it to enhance their mating chances.

Goat slaughtering has fallen by the wayside and modern celebrations have taken hold around the globe in countries where lovers and acquaintances express their sentiments by exchanging traditional Valentine gifts of candy, flowers, cards, jewelry and romantic dinners. Advanced planning is especially important if one intends to dine out. Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday this year, traditionally restaurants’ busiest day of the week. Coupled with the fact that this holiday happens to be restaurants’ busiest day of the year means that in order to avoid dining gridlock, reservations are imperative.

Consider the following recommendations for that special someone:

The Resort at Pursell Farms, a Southern Living Hotel Collection, is hosting a Sweet Romance Package, which includes overnight accommodations in a luxurious suite at Parker Lodge, a gourmet chocolate-making class, pre-dinner drinks and hors d’oeuvres, and a five-course, wine-paired, chocolate-infused dinner prepared by critically acclaimed chef Andrea Griffith. Couples wrap up their stay at the Sylacauga resort with a chef’s made-to-order gourmet breakfast. Cost is $399 per couple. For reservations call 256-208-2051.

Closer to home, Chef Alan Martin of the Victoria in Anniston is offering a special Valentine menu both Friday and Saturday night. Garfrerick’s in Oxford will also offer a special four-course Valentine menu Friday and Saturday. The Peerless in Anniston is featuring a special Valentine’s Day couples menu complete with fireside dining by candlelight in the Atlanta room. All three of David Mashburn’s locations — Classic on Noble, Classic on Noble Too and the new Classic at Buckhorn — open for Valentine dining. Reservations for all three locations should be made by calling Classic on Noble at 256-237-5388.

If high petal count, long stem, professionally arranged roses are in your significant other’s future, preorder from a professional designer like Jackie Willingham of Jackie’s Floral Gallery on Highway 78 East in Oxford. According to Willingham, a dozen high-quality roses are expected to runabout $80 this year.

For gourmet artisanal chocolates, check out the selection from famed Atlanta chocolatier Maggie Lyon at Tyson Fine Wines and Things in Golden Springs, where an array of Lyon treats are available for under $20. Also check Tyson’s new food item, edible hibiscus blossoms in sugar syrup from Australia.

Don’t forget wine. Something fizzy usually adds to the festiveness of the evening. A glass of bubbly with a hibiscus blossom floating in it makes a beautiful presentation.

Finally look for new wine label, Spin the Bottle, in chardonnay, cabernet and a red blend. Priced in the $12 range, the labels use a printing technology giving the illusion of depth and movement when the bottle is spun. Three different adult versions of the game, Spin the Bottle, are available as a free download from the iTunes App Store. Although if you’re young enough to know how to do that, perhaps you should not be playing this game.

Email Pat Kettles at pkettles@annistonstar.com
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