If Old Man Winter has not been harsh enough, then Valentine’s Day is coming to slap you in the face. There’ve been many years when I’ve dubbed February 14th “Single Awareness Day” and watched all my friends pair off with their boyfriends like a 21st century version of Noah’s ark. Maybe I’ve lost that cynical nature in the past year (blame the boyfriend for being absurdly wonderful to me) or maybe I’ve -*gasp!*- grown up, but I think that V-day is not so much about reminding those who are unwed or unattached that they are alone but just about love in general. After all, love knows no boundaries. Love your mom. Love your dad. Love your friends. Love yourself. Love your cat for crying out loud. But the truth is, regardless of your romantic situation, lots of us will partake in this holiday. Who cares if your Valentine is yourself. Love is in the air, people. And here’s just a few ways to celebrate.



Godiva is offering exclusive Valentine’s Day items. Of the many heart-shaped goodies you can pickup at their boutiques, the famous chocolatier is offering a 40 piece heart-shaped box of chocolates featuring the Sparkling Heart Collection flavors: Bellini, Mimosa, Classic, and Rose. If you’re looking to bring little treats to work or to hand out with a few friends, pick up a few of their Chocolate Heart Lollipops. Godiva’s Love and Hug hearts, a take on the classic conversation hearts, come wrapped with a big red bow and are a great way to boldly say “I love you.” Click here to check out what else they’ve got going on for the big day. You can order online, or scurry over to Cherry Creek Mall and pick some up at the Godiva boutique right here in D-town.

While you’re at the Creek, there’s another chocolatier you might want to pay a visit. Charles Chocolates, an artisan & organic confectioner based out of San Francisco,  has had a kiosk at the mall since Thanksgiving.  The kiosk will be offering seasonal items just in time for V-day. If you’re into salty AND sweet treats, their “Good Food Award” winning salty-sweet cashew bar with whole roasted cashews nestled in dark milk chocolate will be right up your alley. But if you want any more after that, you’d better stock up. The heat of the summer months prevents the company from shipping their products around the country, so this award winning sweet stuff will only be available in the 303 until May 26th.

Of course, the usual vino can make any date night romantic. It’s said that wine is an aphrodisiac because it increases testosterone in women and thus increases libido. Or wine can make you love sick and googly-eyed because…well, um….it gets ya drunk. But to make your Valentine’s Day libations a bit more festive and colorful, try out X-Rated Fusion Liqueur. Not only does its pink tinge fit the holiday color scheme, but its sweet medley of mangoes, passion fruit, and blood oranges will leave you puckering for something other than a kiss. Here’s some X-Rated drink recipes. Whether your evening will be X-rated or PG-13 is up to you.

Hopeless RomantiX 1.5 oz. X-Rated Fusion Liqueur
2 oz. Prosecco or Champagne
0.25 oz. Lemon Juice
0.25 oz. Orange
0.25 oz. Pineapple
Muddle pineapple, orange and lemon. Add prosecco and X-Rated Fusion Liqueur. Strain and serve in a highball glass and garnish with a pineapple slice.

XOXO1.5 oz SKYY Infusions Passion Fruit
1 oz. X-Rated Fusion Liqueur
1 oz. Passion Fruit Puree
Splash of sour.Combine ingredients in shaker. Strain and serve in a martini glass.

Valentine’s Day is obviously the busiest date night of the year. So if you haven’t got reservations yet, I’d advise you to pick up the phone or visit opentable.com…STAT.
Here’s some suggestions on where to wine and dine:

Modern and TrendyNoRTH, located a stone’s throw away from Cherry Creek mall, is a modern Italian restaurant that takes the classics to another level. They’ll be offering a set menu for the occasion, much like many restaurants around town, featuring a three course meal. Warm your heart with Italian Winter Soup (fennel sausage, kale, pastina and parmesean cheese. Choose from a NY strip steak, pan roasted scallops, or grilled rack of lamb for your main course. And top it all off with vanilla marscapone cheesecake with roasted pears & ginger syrup.

Off the Beaten PathBudapest Bistro– This adorably quaint Hungarian restaurant will erase the word “hungry” from your vocabulary (pun intended). Their stick-to-your-ribs Hungarian traditionals and their black and red themed dining room offer a cozy vibe that will prompt you to go home and snuggle up with your sweetheart. The Spicy Pumpkin Soup with coconut milk and the perfect little kick of cayenne pepper is so outrageous, you’ll want to pick up the bowl and lick it clean. Stay tuned for a more in depth rave review from me in the very near future.

ItalianoCarmine’s on Penn – Italy is sexy. What ISN’T in Italy that  can make one fall head over heels? Gondolas in Venice,  heaping plates of spaghetti (think: Lady & The Tramp), Romeo & Juliet. Carmine’s is authentic Italian. And, if you can scroll up and read my last name, you’d know that I’ve got some experience in this category. When you visit this West Wash Park wonder, bring an appetite. This is true Italian family style. Choose from several traditional Italian pasta dishes – Strozzapetti, Bolognese, Carbonara – or pick out a veal or chicken entrée to share with your date or even a group of friends.

Ladies Night OutH.Burger – Like I said, I’ve done the whole no-date-on-Valentine’s-day dance. No flowers, no chocolates, no dining out. But this day is about love of any variety. So love yourself, love your chicas, turn off The Notebook, and get your butt downtown. H. Burger, while not completely ditching the traditional hamburger, puts an innovative spin on the old classic. Stick to The Standard, go veg with the Eden Burger, or order a Colorado Burger with lamb and feta cheese. Finish it all off with a Nutella and Roasted Marshmallow milkshake. Now, THAT is something to love.

photo courtesy of H. Burger