Valentine's Day is also called the Feast of St. Valentine—but in this case, "feast" isn't meant in the meal sense, but instead an annual religious celebration dedicated to a particular saint. An actual feast is more fitting though, because many of us are going to restaurants to celebrate the holiday. Valentine's Day is the second busiest day of the year at restaurants (Mother's Day is the busiest). The majority of restaurants are offering a special prix fixe menu for the holiday, and without reservations, the pickins may be slim.
Here's how you can show your valentine that your love is unique, even without a restaurant reservation.
If you both enjoy cooking, the kitchen can be a hot, steamy place for you and your sweetheart. While you're prepping the main course pour some Oregon pinot noir and talk about what you really want for dessert. Since you're in control of the kitchen, slip in a few aphrodisiac ingredients such as oysters, chocolate, chili peppers, honey, figs and strawberries. Make sure to share little tastes along the way; you want to make sure your partner is satisfied.
Share a romantic dinner without any utensils. Eating with your hands originated in the Indian mind-body health system, Ayurveda. It's believed our bodies harmonize with the elements of nature and our hands hold the power of the five elements: space, air, fire, water and earth. Picking up your food by joining all five fingers together is supposed to improve your consciousness of the food; you'll be more aware of the temperature, texture and ultimately the taste. Try some of these finger-licking foods with your lover: barbecue ribs, chicken wings, empanadas, sushi or tacos. Who knows, improving consciousness over dinner may lead to heightened consciousness in the bedroom. Oh my, are we blushing yet?
You may think eating with your hands is uncivilized, so fondue is an intimate alternative. Over a warm pot of gooey, kirsch-infused cheese you can stare into each others' eyes. Use the long-stemmed forks to take turns feeding each other luscious bites of cheese covered bread, veggies and apples. Take sips of the remaining kirsch and delight in the subtle flavors of cherry—another aphrodisiac. Cheese is the traditional Swiss interpretation of fondue but melting chocolate in the pot would be a sensual dessert with berries, cream puffs and angel food cake. A "friend" told me if you run out of plates, warm chocolate can be served on the body. See where this is going?
Sitting with a bunch of strangers at a restaurant isn't very intimate. If you really want to dine with privacy so that no one can see what's happening under the table, bring the restaurant to you. Traditional catering companies such as Blue Bite Catering, Bowtie Catering and Country Catering can hook you up, but your favorite restaurant might, too. All you have to do is ask. At home you can guarantee you'll get that seat in front of the fireplace. If your table doesn't fit there, lay a tablecloth down and have dinner on the floor. Don't have a fireplace? Go crazy with candles or build a virtual fire by turning on Fireplace for Your Home on Netflix.
Central Oregon is filled with outdoor enthusiasts, so the most romantic place for a lot of you may be the great outdoors. Bring dinner with you to your favorite spot in the forest. It's simple and easy to fill your backpack with a blanket and a picnic of cheese, charcuterie, fruit, olives, crackers and a bottle of wine or that expensive ale you've been saving for a special occasion. The top of Bessie Butte is a great place for a picnic right now; with a round trip hike of only 1.5 miles, it doesn't take long to summit. Get there just before sunset and you'll be rewarded with a pink, purple and blue watercolor sky and views of the Cascades and miles of green, mounded buttes.