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Macarons.

Valentine’s Day dates for everyone

Beatrice Smith

While some of you will be rolling your eyes at the reminder of Valentine’s Day, some eyes will be wide with terror at the thought of getting their Valentine’s Day date wrong.

There’s a ridiculous amount of pressure put on all couples, not to mention those who are kind-of-just-hanging-out-I-guess-we’re-seeing-each-other-but-it’s-not-super-serious-yet, to have the BEST DATE EVER on 14 February.

So forget teddy bears that say a creepy robotic ‘I Wuv You’ and chocolate that took five months to be shipped here from China, we’re here to help you plan a kick ass V-Day no matter who you are.

GAL-ENTINE’S DAY!

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Galentine’s Day (as popularised by Parks and Rec) is about sharing 14 February with those who have held you close even after mascara has run down your face, you’re sobbing so hard you need to take two breaths in for every exhalation and your legs don’t seem to work anymore: your friends, your mates, your gals.

They’ve had your back through thick and thin, so take the day to celebrate your friendships that are probably older than your longest relationship anyway.

Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday this year so invite your best friends over for a relaxed brunch in your pajamas, complete with Maple Cream Stuffed French Toast with Smashed Berries, Smoked Salmon Brunch Stacks and Strawberries and Cream Hotcakes.

Buy some cute bunting or fresh blooms, deck the table with your finest china and bust out the champagne or fancy tea you’ve been saving for a special occasion. Playlists of 90s hits optional.

YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE YOU’RE AT…YET

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You’ve been “seeing each other” for a while and you both think the other is awesome but nothing is “official” yet. A casual brunch is a great cute-but-not-ridiculously-romantic Valentine’s Day outing, perfect for those in the ‘in-between’ stages. Some places to look into might be The Cupping Room in the city, Double Shot in Deakin, ONA on the Lawns in Manuka, Močan and Green Grout in NewActon, eighty/twenty in Braddon, Penny University in Kingston and A Bite to Eat in Chifley.

A word of caution: you might be wanting a date that’s relaxed, but for heavens sake, talk about it first! There’s nothing worse than a ‘sort-of-dating’ Valentine’s Day where someone’s expectations are miles above the other’s and one person wind up being disappointed. If you’ve been seeing each other since before December, take whatever you did on Christmas and New Year’s as a good indication as to what your partner’s expectations might be and talk about it well before V-Day – for the sake of your brunch booking!

FOOD IS FOR LOVERS

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We Canberrans (and especially HerCanberra readers) have proved ourselves to be foodies, with almost half of HerCanberra’s Most Read Articles of 2015 being food or coffee related, so we’re sure your Valentine’s date will be no exception.

For those in relationships (where there’s no doubt Valentine’s Day plans need to be made) a great food and drink experience is probably a solid choice and doesn’t mean forking out for five dozen roses or a trip to Paris. Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday so keep in mind Sunday opening times, but here are a few thoughtful ways to pamper your loved one via their tastebuds.

New Canberra picnic purveyor, Gingham & Green, has created a special hamper just for the occasion. The Hopeless Romantic picnic includes a single red rose from Moxom & Whitney, a box of handmade chocolates from Patisserie Valerie, chocolate dipped strawberries and free delivery, along with gourmet picnic favourites.

Canberra Winery Tours are hosting a special Valentine’s Day Tour which includes a guided tour of four winery stops—Eden Road, Shaw Vineyard Estate, Clonakilla and Four Winds—and a delicious lunch at Shaw’s. An excellent way to indulge with your own designated driver!

Grab some late night cocktails and food on the Saturday night (February 13) for a romantic evening without the pressure of a set Valentine’s Menu. Cuddle up at Monster kitchen + bar in NewActon, Chez Frederic in Braddon, Joe’s Bar in Kingston, eightysix in Braddon or AKIBA in the city.

The next morning, make your significant other some amazing breakfast in bed, or go for a morning stroll somewhere beautiful before stopping for a relaxed Sunday brunch. The perfect way for busy couples to both celebrate Valentine’s Day and get their weekend tasks sorted too. This might also be the best choice for couples with kids for whom a weekend or whole day away from home just isn’t an option.

Alternatively, meet for a languid Sunday lunch somewhere that serves a midday menu to die for, like A. Baker in NewActon, Muse in Kingston, Chifley Bar and Grill in NewActon, Urban Pantry in Manuka or Pialligo Estate in Pialligo and spend a good few hours working your way from starters through to dessert. Finish the day off with a film at Palace Electric in NewActon, where you can cocoon yourself in the Brown Brothers Prosecco Bar afterwards for a quiet end to a relaxed day.

THE MOTHER OF ALL VALENTINE’S DAYS

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All sarcastic indifference and pretend nonchalance aside, there are some Valentine’s Days that deserve to be celebrated with all the bells and whistles. Like a White Christmas in Europe or New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas, sometimes the stars align to create the perfect atmosphere for a really full on celebration.

Maybe you’ve just gotten together officially and you’re both giddy with excitement at the thought of spoiling each other, maybe you’ve been apart for months, haven’t really found time for each other recently or you’re celebrating your 33rd Valentine’s Day together. Whatever the reason, if this particular Valentine’s Day calls for a significant effort, here’s how to plan it.

A weekend away is always a safe choice for a romantic escape, with locations like the Southern Highlands, Hunter Valley, South Coast or Kangaroo Valley all great choices. If you’re wanting (or needing) to stay close to home a degustation or incredibly decadent dinner will spoil you both (although make sure you check the restaurants are actually open on the 14th, otherwise opt for a Valentine’s Eve booking on the 13th). Rubicon in Griffith have a special Valentine’s Day degustation on offer, with highlights such as Kingfish sashimi, green nahm jim, coconut, lime, Thai basil.

Buvette, the Realm precinct’s new French bistro is serving up a decadent brunch buffet, with oysters, antipasto, and cheese and dessert stations with a chocolate fountain. This option would be a dream when paired with a hotel stay in one of the precinct’s numerous luxury digs.

Pod Food at Pialligo Estate or the Pavilions at Pialligo Estate are urban fine dining oasis while XO and Monster kitchen + bar are the enfant terribles of the fine food scene, serving unique combinations with a serious ‘cool’ factor.

YOU HAVEN’T FOUND YOUR VALENTINE…YET

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Films would have us believe that for singles, the approach of Valentine’s Day triggers either instant dismissal (“What a stupid, commercialised occasion”) or feelings of loneliness (“I JUST WANT TO BE LOOOOOOVED!”). However, since we’re not in an 80s after school special, we know that there’s more to V-Day for unattached people than meets the eye.

Valentine’s Day can be the perfect time to mingle, with the lust and affection being shouted at us from every billboard creating an amazing atmosphere for a night out. Valentine’s Day isn’t just an excuse for people in relationships to look stunning in a new dress, it’s a time to celebrate love in all forms (like Galentines Day!), even if it’s just the moment your eyes meet a handsome stranger’s across the bar, or the love of a good cocktail.

For Canberrans, you can bet there will be some themed events across the city and beyond, but if you’re simply looking for a good night out on Saturday February 13, try starting off at the Highball Express or Hippo Co. Both bars boast an intimate, relaxed vibe and are great places to plan your evening and meet new people. Highball is also holding cocktail classes all afternoon from 1-7pm where you and your squad can learn to create three of Highball’s signature cocktails behind the bar.

White Rabbit Cocktail Room will also be serving up cocktails fit for lovers with their ‘Poor Valentine’ cocktail of Poor Toms gin matched with Chamberyzyette, finished with house made vanilla syrup, Fino Sherry and a few dashes of Regan’s Orange Bitters served straight up with chocolate coated strawberries on the side. They also have a V-Day deal going: buy two house cocktails and receive their most popular dessert – The Vanilla Bavarious – for free.
If you’re in a large group, Hopscotch, Shorty’s and Honkytonks are known for their buzzing atmosphere and interesting mix of people. End the night at Knightsbridge Penthouse for some seriously great dancing to 90s RnB or downstairs at Molly for potent cocktails partnered with 1940s jazz. Find more great bars here.

Image of ‘colourful macarons‘ via Shutterstock

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Beatrice Smith

Bea loves that her job as HerCanberra’s Editorial Coordinator involves eating, drinking and interviewing people - sometimes simultaneously. The master of HerCanberra’s publishing schedule, she’s usually found hunched over a huge calendar muttering to herself about content balance. Otherwise you’ll find her at the movies, ordering a cheese board or ordering a cheese board at the movies. More about the Author

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