Friday, February 8, 2008

Cheap Dates.. Without Looking Cheap

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, I feel morally obligated to dedicate at least one post about dating. I say morally obligated because we all know that there are going to be hundreds of couples in every single sit down restaurant on Feb. 14th being rushed through dinner to free up the table for the next couple that has been waiting for 30 minutes even though they made their reservations 2 months in advance. Not intending to rant, I'm just expressing my concern.

Guys (and girls) listen up: You do not need to spend $50 on roses and $20 on candy and go to a high end restaurant to impress someone! I did a survey among my friends and the general consensus was this: the simpler the better.

The number one sure fire way to woo a particular love interest according to my survey is to plan a picnic. It could be a traditional picnic in a park or in the woods with homemade sandwiches, some fruit and your favorite bottle of wine. Or maybe you rent a movie or start a fire, throw a blanket on the floor and crack open that bottle of champagne (or sparkling wine, depending on where it's from) that's been sitting in the refrigerator that you almost forgot about.

A very close second at the top of romantic dates that won't drain your wallet should come as no surprise. Everyone loves a homecooked meal, especially if it's made for them when they are least expecting it. I made a pasta the other night and I loved the recipe so much I've attached it for whomever is interested (it's at the very bottom of this post). It's healthy but still hearty. Next time I make it I'll probably add chicken to it, but the recipe is still great without it. Heads up though... make sure you have a full sized food processor or use a blender. This was a very messy lesson for me to learn.

Even if you're not much of a cook there are plenty of pre-packaged frozen meals that you can throw into a covered skillet for 10 minutes that are actually quite delicious. I highly recommend Bertolli's Skillet Dinners for Two. The Chicken Florentine and Farfalle is my personal favorite, but I honestly have never had anything from this particular line that I did not enjoy.

My recommendation to anyone that is dating a wine lover is to look into wine tastings in your local area. In Fredericksburg there are two shops that have regular tastings that are either free or for a minimal charge. The first one is Virginia Wine Experience, which is my preferred place to shop for Virginia wines. The other is Kybecca, which has free tastings every Saturday from 2 pm-5 pm (and they're possibly the only place in town to find Peace wine... yum!). Both have a knowledgeable staff and reasonable prices. Whether it's a first date or just an afternoon out with your special someone, it's a good way to connect and learn something new together. And if you're not comfortable around wine it give you a chance to talk to someone that is and discover more about it.

So that's it. I've done my part adding to the frenzy that is Valentine's Day.

This weekend I will be visiting a winery in Richmond, and I am planning on writing a full review about it, so don't forget to check back next week!
-Wine Chic