Love is in the air, so whether you are aiming to impress a new flame or surprise a long-term love, our tips on planning the perfect Valentine’s Day won’t cost you the earth and will make sure cupid’s arrow hits the spot!
The Romantic recipe
Try a quick, easy and undoubtedly impressive seafood linguine, packed with prawns, squid and mussels or whatever seafood your partner prefers.
Our office party planner, Laura, has shared her recipe for the perfect Seafood Linguine; a dish, she says, never fails to impress and can be ready in 20 minutes: 60ml olive oil, 2 cloves garlic, crushed, no need to peel, 12 medium raw prawns, peeled, shells and heads reserved, 2 tbsp tomato paste, 300ml water, 350g linguine, Salt, 60g squid rings and tentacles, 16 mussels, in the shell, scrubbed, ¼ tsp chilli flakes (add more if you want to hot things up!), 2 handfuls cherry tomatoes, halved, reshly ground pepper, Handful of parsley, roughly chopped
Heat half the olive oil in a pan and add the garlic, prawn heads and shells; fry over a high heat for 5 minutes, turning them from time to time. Add the tomato puree and water, simmer with lid on for 10 minutes, then use a hand blender to blitz the mixture. Pass through a sieve and reserve.
Cook the linguine in plenty of salted boiling water for 10 minutes.
Wipe the stock pan and add the rest of the olive oil and the fry squid and prawns over a high heat for a couple of minutes. Add the strained stock, then the mussels, chilli flakes and cherry tomatoes. Bring the pan to the boil with the lid on and boil rapidly for 4 minutes. Remove the lid and then season with a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. Add the well-drained pasta and the parsley, toss together and then serve immediately.
Add the well-drained pasta and the parsley, toss together and then serve immediately.
A glass of Vino Tinto will partner perfectly with the dish or sparkling water with a slice of lemon if preferred.
The all-important ambience
Scented candles, pillar candles and tea-lights are ideal for setting the perfect low-level lighting. Sweeter scents such as vanilla and sandalwood are safe favourites and are perfect for creating a romantic aura both during the meal and into the evening.
The five most popular scents for creating a romantic ambience are: Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry and Cherry.
Once you have chosen the scent that you will settle down to, music is the next thing to think about. A playlist containing some of your shared favourite songs along with tracks that remind you of good times or special occasions (first dance at your wedding, a memorable holiday, favourite band at a festival) mixed in with some old romantic classics will set the tone for an evening of romance and reminiscing.
After dinner date-night
Create a date-night feeling after dinner by putting on a movie; old or modern classics work just as well, so have a couple of options to hand, depending on whether a tear-jerker or a happy ending takes your fancy. Recommendations from the old romantics at Julian Charles include Pretty Woman (Tom, our head of online), 50 Shades of Grey (Carole, our marketing co-ordinator) and Notebook (Brad, our web designer).
Make sure you have already prepared the perfect Valentine retreat to retire to once the movie comes to an end. Crisp cotton sheets and dimmed lighting are ideal if you want to create a hotel-inspired feel to the room, whereas luxurious linen in deeper shades of plum and red and cinnamon-scented candles will create a real aura of romance.