Avoid All the Clichés This Valentine's Day: Four Offbeat Ideas
If you've managed to tunnel your way through the growing thicket of Valentine's Day misery (you know what we mean: glittering greeting cards with babies on rose beds in soft focus, waxy milk chocolate roses, contrived puns about love, and "aphrodisiac dinners"), we're proud of you. Valentine's Day is hard. It's ripe with opportunities for cliché. We're supposed to drink velvety wines, eat sexy cuts of fish, stare deeply into each other's eyes over candlelit dinners, then toss our hair in the sunset and trade spoonfuls of freshly Instagrammed truffle cake.
This guide is for people who want to avoid the usual clichés.
Granted, if you're single, these scenarios may play out awkwardly. But you can always do them with friends. Whatever your status, we're taking it upon ourselves here to arm you against the pitfall of triteness on Valentine's Day. We've gathered some promising, less conventional options for you and yours, and there is not a white tablecloth in sight. Cheers.
Book a Pickling Class
Where: Southpaw BBQ (through 18 Reasons)
When: March 5
Price: $70 general admission
The rundown: Nothing promises longevity like fermenting foods together. It's got all the sexy vibes of couples' cooking without having to take a "cooking as a couple" class. Thank god. You'll learn the art of hot and cold pickling, and how to make a slew of condiments from mustard to spicy jams. We contend this would be equally fantastic with a partner or a friend. It's in March, but tickets make a great gift.
Share Custom (or "Adult") Fortune Cookies
Where: Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory
Cost: Starts at $45 for 100 cookies; varies depending on number of custom fortunes. Smaller batches available.
The rundown: Need a way to subliminally sway your partner to move in, ditch their cat, stop snoring or wearing cargo pants? Or maybe you'd like to find a better way to whisper your sweet nothings. Enter Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, where you can customize the fortunes inside an order of cookies, and say everything you could never say. With a cookie. Call 399-9129 for more info -- orders for Valentine's Day need to be made today. Otherwise, you can take advantage of their selection of cookies with pre-made "adult" fortunes.
Have Dinner and a Movie ... at the Same Time
Where: The New Parkway Theater
Cost: Movie admission $6, special Breakfast at Tiffany's V-Day dinner package $25
The rundown: Recently, our prayers were answered and the New Parkway Theater reopened in Oakland. It's a charming old dig, with lots of homemade comfort food -- think Brazilian meatballs, French onion grilled cheese sandwich, or mac and cheese -- and cheap pints of local beer, that you can eat during the show. The old style theater has a generally killer show list that runs the gamut of indies, classics, and blockbusters. You can get your Audrey and Cary fix on Valentine's Day with Roman Holiday, or you can relive the awkward, endearing story of Harold and Maude. Over meatballs.
Lose Yourself on the Sonoma-Marin Cheese Trail
Where: Marin and Sonoma counties; follow the map to what sounds good.
The rundown: As far as tastings go, the Valentine's Day default suggests chocolate and wine. We'd like to switch gears and kick you onto the cheese trail, a tour of artisan cheesemakers in the majestic, scenic country just over the bridge in Marin and Sonoma. Why cheese on Valentine's Day? Because no one else is doing it. You don't have to watch well-dressed couples swooning over each other in a dimly lit restaurant, or holding hands on a pier. You get to traipse about stunning, Steinbeckian country, drive the seaside, swoon over some of the best cheese in the country, and maybe pet the animal from which it came. It's pretty much the best date ever.
Tasting cheese in different stages and forms is just as intoxicating as any other kind of fine food tasting. Plus, at the end you can sit on the bluffs and watch the sun set while jamming fists of fresh brie in each others mouths. Our favorites? Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company, famous for the blue cheese; St. Benoit Creamery, whose Jersey cows will change the way you see milk; Nicasio Valley Cheese Company's charming roadside shack, full of curds; and Cowgirl Creamery -- duh.