Dining

Valentine’s Day food and drink gift guide: Fine dining at home, cocktails, gin and fizz

The traditional Valentine’s Day meal may be off the cards this year, but there’s still no excuse not to spoil your partner with a spot of home delivered fine dining, a drinks menu to entice and delight, and a romantic cocktail or two.

TLR’s heart-shaped hot list will ensure you boss Valentine’s Day like a pro…

Noble House Prepared – love at first bite

Noble House Prepared is offering a sumptuous Valentine’s experience that goes a long way to creating a restaurant-style fine dining experience.

The menus, created by the company’s Executive Chef, who has led the restaurants of Michelin star chef Gordon Ramsay, feature a choice of chicken, beef or vegetarian options. 

Spicy Harissa and Pomegranate Chicken (from £55), is partnered with Chickpeas, Lentils and Rice plus Honey and 5 Spice Roasted Chantenay Carrots for a hint of sweetness and the fresh bite of Broccoli Florets and French Green Beans.

Alternatively, opt for Chateaubriand Fillet of Beef (£64.95), complemented by creamy Dauphinoise Potatoes, Honey and five Spice Roasted Chantenay Carrots plus tender Broccoli Florets and French Green Beans.  

Finally, an elegantly presented Vegetarian Butternut Squash and Goats Cheese Pithivier (£40), is best matched with Dauphinoise Potatoes, Honey and 5 Spice Roasted Chantenay Carrots plus Broccoli Florets and crunchy French Green Beans.

All meals arrive in temperature controlled packaging, with clearly labelled cooking instructions. 

We sampled the Butternut Squash and Goats Cheese Pithivier and Chateaubriand Fillet of Beef menus, and were delighted with the quality of the ingredients, the bullet-proof simplicity of the prep and the cornucopia of flavours delivered.

The fillet of grass fed British beef, served with a red wine and garlic jus, was sublimely juicy, and the cheesy butternut squash pithivier, served with sage and onion sauce, was superb

Our meal came with a starter of finest Scottish Formans hand-sliced smoked salmon. A staple at the Dorchester, it was gratefully consumed.  

Every Valentine’s menu includes an indulgent pud to finish. On the menu is an Intense Chocolate Pot with Cream and Lime made with 70 per cent dark chocolate. We opted for something a little lighter, a no-bake British cheesecake with passion fruit jelly.

The TLR verdict? Two yums up!

Orders for Noble House Prepared Valentine’s Day meals should be placed by February 10, to ensure delivery in time for the big day. Delivery is nationwide excluding Scottish Highlands, Northern Ireland and all the UK Islands.

Embrace your passionate side with Luigi Bosca Malbec Seleccion Vistalba 2018 

If you’re looking for a supreme quality red for Valentine’s Day, may we point you towards this sumptuous Malbec by the fine winemakers at Luigi Bosca? Luigi Bosca is in fact one of the oldest wineries in Argentina, and, for the past 120 years, from its vineyard in majestic Mendoza, has been a huge reason why Argentina has become known around the world for its quality wines. If you ask us, there’s no better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than with a taste of the famously romantic country of tango, passion, wine and red meat. 

This stunning Malbec is an elegant and vibrant red wine, boasting intense yet balanced aromas and distinct juicy dark red fruit and floral notes, as well as an beautifully smooth mouth feel. Pair with a steak at home this Valentine’s day, embrace all the passions of its Argentinian heritage. Date night at home has never been so decadent. 

Luigi Bosca Malbec Seleccion Vistalba 2018 is available from Waitrose for £16.99.

For feel-good bubbles: Whisp hard seltzer 

Hard seltzer is one of the biggest drinks trends right now – and Whisp is one beautifully gift-ready way to get on board. Available in both refreshing Cucumber & Mint and the delicately fruity Raspberry & Elderflower, not only are these crisp coolers delicious, but they’re 100% vegan and gluten-free, with all naturally and sustainably sourced British ingredients, and no added sugar, sweeteners or preservatives. Whisp drinks even contain added milk thistle, which is handily a detox hero, and helps to support a healthy liver. Enjoy straight from the can, or poured over ice and garnished with an aromatic sprig of mint or slice of lemon. 

You can order a pack of four for £10 from Whisp Drinks now.

For something a little different: Regal Rogue Wild Rosé

Now, this is a beautiful Valentine’s gift. An incredibly versatile tipple to add to your home bar, Regal Rogue is a quaffing vermouth made with 100% organic wine botanicals – the most sustainable of its kind on the market. This Australian vermouth combines a dry organic Cabernet Rosé with native Illawarra plums, rosella, strawberry gum, fruit spice, and rhubarb. Mix with lemonade for a simple yet sophisticated spritz, or with Prosecco and Aperol for a delicious Valentine’s aperitif. 

Add Regal Rogue to your home bar now for £16.25 from Master of Malt.

Salcombe Gin Rosé Sainte Marie – Making the perfect Valentine’s Day Negroni

Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to acquaint yourself with Salcombe’s Rosé Sainte Marie gin. It’s a delicately flavoured gin crafted to emulate the qualities of a dry rosé wine. Dry, with no added sugar, it looks the part in a gentle shade of pink. ABV is 41.4%.

Appropriately, the South Devon based distillery suggests the perfect Valentine’s Day cocktail, the distinctly romantic Rosé Negroni. This intimate mix of slightly citrus dry gin and rosé vermouth makes for a deliciously sweet and fruity serve.

To make a Rosé Negroni, you’ll need 25ml Salcombe Rosé Sainte Marie gin, 25ml Londinio Rosé Vermouth, 25ml Londinio Aperitivo and lemon peel for garnish.

Combine the gin, vermouth, aperitivo in a mixing glass with plenty of ice and stir (not shake) gently (no bubbles desired). Then strain into a chilled Nick & Nora cocktail glass, and garnish with the peel on the side.

How to make a Salcombe gin Rosé Negroni

Alternatively, serve in classic G&T style with 1:3 gin/tonic measure, and garnish with a slice of seville orange, which proves a joyous complement to the gin’s orange blossom and lemon verbena botanicals. You can buy it here for £39.95.

Enjoy bar-quality cocktails at home with the NIO Cocktails’ Experience Box 

Share a perfectly prepared, bar-quality drink at home this Valentine’s Day thanks to NIO, the high end cocktail creators whose drinks can be delivered straight to your door. With its name literally standing for ‘Needs Ice Only’, NIOs’ expertly crafted cocktails come fully ready-to-drink, in sachets that you simply tear and pour.

For Valentine’s Day, turn your attention to the new NIO Experience Box, a beautiful presentation pack of two heavy-bottomed glass tumblers, a mould to make luxurious giant ice cubes and a choice of your five favourite cocktails. Choose from a diverse menu of different cocktails, flavour profiles, and spirit bases to suit all tastes, to suit the tastes of you and your Valentine for beautiful date night drinks. We’ve sampled our fair share of pre-mixed cocktails of late, and NIO’s are our favourites; the most similar experience to a handcrafted bar cocktail on the market. 

Order the NIO Experience Box for £65 at niococktails.co.uk.

Spice up Valentine’s with Sipsmith Chilli and Lime Gin

No matter how well your mixology skills are coming along in lockdown, the thing with at-home drinking and dining is that you’re less likely to stumble across new favourites. So, treat your Valentine to something to liven up their tired tastebuds with Sipsmith’s highly drinkable chilli and lime gin. 

Crafted by Sipsmith’s talented distillers on their original London Dry Gin base, this new take on a classic gin pairs lime zest with seven different fruity and complex chillies from around the world – the result is fresh and zingy, with the perfect balance of bright citrus to cut through the heat.

With a fun spirit like this, you need only add a couple of ingredients to create new and exciting cocktails, like a gin-based take on a margarita, or simply use to give a zesty twist to your favourite G&T.

Sipsmith’s Chilli and Lime Gin is available right now to buy from Tesco and Waitrose, RRP £28.50.

Tuck into artisanal bakes from Jack and Beyond 

Whether you want to send them as a gift, or order them in for you and your Valentine to enjoy, the baked delights from Fulham-based Jack and Beyond make a unique – and delicious – alternative to a box of chocolates.

We can whole-heartedly recommend the London bakery’s artisanal, heart-shaped take on a jammy dodger, made with strawberry jam and decadent buttercream frosting, sandwiched between vanilla shortbread, as well as their red velvet brownies, made with luxurious dark Callebaut chocolate for a smooth and creamy texture, with a beautiful red pattern on top for a festive finish. 

Jammy Dodgers from £3.60, bitesized bags of brownies from £9.95, with delivery from £2.99. Order from Jackandbeyond.com.

Cotton Gin, from the Yorkshire Dales with love

Cotton gin – an homage to green fields

With Yorkshire Watercress, English Coriander, local spruce, rowan berries, nettle leaves and mint, Cotton Gin is the nearest most of us will get to the Yorkshire Dales any time soon. The creation of husband-and-wife teams Nicola and Dougie Lampkin MBE, and Alexa and Chris Ives, it offers a herbaceous nose, is smooth on the palate, and hints of citrus and pine. A fresher taste you’ll struggle to find.

First distilled in lockdown, and a sprightly Gold winner at The Gin Masters 2020, Cotton Gin is a gift of a new premium small-batch gin, a homage to green fields and the English countryside. 

The distiller suggests the perfect Cotton Gin serve is a double shot of Cotton, mixed with 150 ml of premium Indian Tonic water, a spring of rosemary and a ribbon of lemon peel. Alternatively, we’d suggest a Cotton Martini, with dry vermouth and a dash of orange bitters with a twist of lemon peel to garnish.  
Cotton Gin (44% ABV) sells for £37.95 for 70cl, or £14.95 for 20cl, and can be purchased here.

Toast in style with Tempus Two Copper Series Prestige Cuvée

What’s Valentine’s day without a glass of bubbles? Elevate your toast and opt for The Tempus Two Copper Prestige Cuvée, a gorgeous sparkling wine which looks as good as it tastes.

Part of the Australian winery’s copper collection, this vibrant option combines modern style with classic finesse, with aromas of green apple and pear complemented by a fine creamy texture and a crisp, zesty finish. Sip as an aperitif this Valentine’s Day to get date night flowing in style. 

Even better, it’s easily available now from Sainsbury’s, for £16. Add to your shopping list now and thank us later.

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