Ah, Valentine's Day. You fickle, fickle holiday. Some times you present as light and ephemeral and other times you come forth with all the sublety of blunt force trauma. The heart boxes of candy stacked up at the Walgreen's make me catch my breath, afraid to embark on another year's attempt to foster romance on a specific day in the middle of cold, cold February.
So this time around, I'm taking a new tack. How about approaching the whole tomfoolery of cards, candy and flowers with a casual, cool air? I know my husband will appreciate me peeling back the layers of this so-called "most romantic day of the year" to get at its core – having a good time with someone you dig.
In that spirit, I present a cooler way to spend your Valentine's Monday. Here's a brief set of more style-y suggestions that don't follow the cliched schmalz of pink ribbons, frilly clothing and dozens of roses (unsustainably) shipped from the ends of the earth.
Romance and Revolution
Victor's 1959 is the undisputed Twin Cities bastion of revolutionary motifs and tasty Cuban food. The booths have a colorful grafitti pattern and the plaintains make everything better. Sure, you can head over on Friday or Saturday night for their special Valentine's dinner (4 courses for $35 with a pink champagne cocktail), or you can take your too-cool-for-school honey over there on Monday morning for breakfast. Victor's will be open as usual, serving $4 sake bloody mary's and tropical mimosas from 8-10:30 a.m. for morning happy hour along with Rancheros Cubanos, Dia & Noche and Americano faves until 2:30 p.m. Wash it all down with the Cortadito (espresso with a shot of steamed milk) to begin your day of romance with some Cuban hipster heat.
Sweet and Stylish
If Cuban food and drink is a little too hardcore for you on V-Day, how about a visit to the newly opened Sweets Bakeshop on Nicollet Avenue near West 47th Street. Run by Ly Lo and Krista Steinbach, the little shop features the two biggest trends in baking today – French Macaroons and highbrow cupcakes. Suitable for the stylish sweetheart, this place has cool treats in chic flavors, like mint basil, berries & champagne and salted caramel. It's an offshoot of the St. Paul Sweets, but now hosts the company's main kitchens. Why is that important, you ask? Because they've decided to open the Nicollet Avenue location this Monday for Valentine's Day, since the bakers will be in back prepping for the week (Sweets is usually closed on Mondays). That means you can score your swank salty caramel or chocolate raspberry cupcakes at the last minute.
Cheesy, But Classy
Another way to show your love that you are still classy, despite your cheesy predilections, is to head over to France 44's Cheese Shop. Cheesemonger Song Lee shares her extensive knowledge as well as delicious samples and says the store is open regular hours (10 a.m. to 7 p.m.) on Valentine's Day. She's running a special on domestic soft cheeses for the holiday, giving customers 15% off on varieties like Vermont Creamery's Cremont, Cypress Grove Truffle Tremor, Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk and Nettle Meadow Kunik. Not sure what will make your sweetie swoon? Take him or her to the shop and taste a few delectable stinkies with a glass of wine. My personal fave was the Cremont, which blends tangy goat's milk with cow's milk and cream.
The Mod Wine and Dine
While some folks will opt to tell their break-up and bad date stories at Kings Story Hour on Sunday night, I can't in good faith recommend that as a V-Day choice. But, I can suggest the low key but mod pleasure of Kings Wine Bar's Valentine Sweetheart Dinner, which for me equals fine pours and local foods, sans the jacket-and-tie-type pressure. Feel free to put on your pegged pants, vintage dress or porkpie hat and eschew all formality – this meal will appeal to old, new and platonic couples alike. You won't be hemmed in by specific seating times or minimal prix fixe options. King's Monday V-Day menu is offered from 5-10 p.m. and has 3 courses for $35 per person. There are options for the veggie and carnivorous among us and the whole shooting match comes with a glass of decent wine. Followed by a Valentine's Ball that goes until closing time, it's the perfect way to show your date that you still know what's shaking with regard to the finer pleasures, but you don't take anything too seriously.
I wish you a happy, but not overly dramatic Valentine's Day. Stay cool.