It’s rare to have us turn down the offer of a night in a restaurant of our choice, but there’s something about Valentine’s Day that makes us feel so corny, so aggrieved at the jacked up set menus, and so rushed to get out so they can turn the table, so we generally opt to ditch the candlelit meal in favour of something a bit different. If you’re like us and are choosing to swerve the cringe this year, we've got some ideas to help you celebrate your relationship or woo the new person in your life, in a much more comfortable fashion.
The National Gallery And A Wine Tasting
The National Gallery of Ireland is one of the most peaceful spots in Dublin for a wander, and you could spend hours in the maze of galleries and exhibitions. Start with the portrait exhibition, and once you’ve had your fill of culture it’s just short walk to Note on Fenian Street. The relatively new arrival on the wine bar scene has already become one of our regular haunts, and they always have interesting bottles open. They're running wine tastings each Saturday afternoon, focusing on different regions, producers and wine, and don’t be put off if you’re not on expert - this is a casual affair. Tickets are limited so make sure to book, and if you’re looking for something to do on V-Day itself, Note are running an event with the guys from P. Franco in East London! It's walk-in only and they open at 18:00.
Afternoon Tea By The Sea
We've been keeping our beady little eyes on Haddington House in Dun Laoghaire since ex-Bastible Barry O’Neill took over as Executive Head Chef in their restaurant Oliveto. It's right beside Dun Laoghaire pier so enjoy a brisk walk along the sea to build up your appetite before heading in for their new Afternoon Tea in the Parlour bar. They serve three-courses, starting with five savoury bites, before moving onto scones and tea, and finishing with three pieces of handmade patisserie. The best part – not a soggy cucumber sandwich in sight. It comes in at €50 per person including a glass of champagne, which we think is good value for a Valentine's (or Galentine's) treat.
Visit St. Valentine
Did you know that the remains of St. Valentine are actually smack bang in the middle of Dublin? We kid you not. In 1835, they were gifted by the Pope to an Irish preacher John Spratt and brought to Dublin from Rome, and they now rest in Whitefriar Street Church on Aungier Street. If you’re spiritually inclined you may want to pop in and bless your own relationship, or if you’re single and looking for love, stop by to say a little prayer to cupid himself to do you a solid. You can follow that up with a short stroll up to one of our favourite taco spots in the city right now - Los Chicanos Tacos, which is currently parked up on Camden Row on Saturdays and Sundays. Order the cauliflower tacos - you'll thank us.
Taco Pop Up
Speaking of tacos, Lily Ramirez-Foran of Picado will be hosting a one-off pop-up in Eatyard on Sunday February 13th to publicise her new cookbook, which she's developed with Blasta Books. From snippets we’ve seen, including beautiful illustrations by Nicky Hooper, it looks incredible, and Lily will be serving up an exclusive taco from the book from 14:00 until they sell out. She'll also be interviewed by Ali Dunworth at 16:00 to launch the book.
City Centre Food Tour
If we were describing our ideal day out, a food tour would be high on the list of activities. It’s something we always do on our first couple of days in new cities to get our bearings and find out more about local cuisines, so why not do the same in our hometown?
Delicious Dublin Tours is run by Ketty Quiqley who's originally from France but has been living in Ireland for years and knows the Dublin food scene inside out. She runs three-hour group tours Tuesday – Saturday which cost €62 per person, and your ticket covers the costs of six - eight tastings.
Fab Food Trails is another well-known company which offers tours in both Dublin and Cork. Founder Eveleen Coyle devises all of the routes but there are a whole host of FFT guides including some familiar faces from the Irish food and drink scene, so you’re always going to be in good hands. Tours are held every second Saturday and are €65 per person, which includes six - seven stops over two and a half hours
Could this be the perfect activity for a newly dating couple? We think so...
A Sunrise Dip & Sauna
With the influx of #swimrise posts hitting our feeds, we reckon there's an appetite for something a bit more active to celebrate the 14th. An excursion to Greystones can be kicked off with a visit to The Fat Fox to pick up coffees and treats for after your dip in The Cove - maybe you’ll even spot the Happy Pear brothers in their natural habitat frolicking in the waves. The swim will wake you up, and from there you can wander over to Fad Saoil Saunas nearby to get the heat back into your bones. If you’re feeling ambitious, take the walk along the cliff to Bray where you can hit up Catalyst Coffee for some plant-based brekkie wraps. We're tired just thinking about it, but each to their own...
Be A Tourist
If you’re anything like us there are probably significant sites around Ireland that you’ve never made it to – the Burren, the Giants Causeway, the Cliffs of Moher – we know, we know, it’s shameful. In our defence, you could name any random food truck in the country and we’ve probably been there – so you can tell our priorities when we travel. If this sounds familiar, take this as a push to delve into the list of places in Dublin you’ve never been. First stop could be Kilmainham Gaol, followed by a pitstop in Storyboard for some coffee and a takeaway lunch to enjoy in the grounds of the Irish Museum of Modern Art. Or perhaps you've walked past St. Patrick's Cathedral a million times but never ventured in? Pay the €8 admission and avail of the free tours run throughout the day, before you pop over to Two Pups, The Fumbally or Hen’s Teeth nearby for food afterwards. The options are endless, so get planning.
A cooking class is a great activity to do with your partner, and even better if you’re in the early stages of your relationship and still getting to know each other. Figure out who’s the sous-chef of the couple in a dumpling masterclass with chef Holly Dalton. Her interest in Japanese food started in her teens, and ultimately led to her first job out of culinary school in Izakaya. Since then, she's worked in Gertrude, 3fe, Cocu and Bobby’s, before launching her own range of Japanese-inspired condiments, Conbini. The three-hour workshop on February 26th costs €91 and covers everything you need to make dumplings at home including hand-folding techniques and how to cook them perfectly every time. Find out more details here.
Kilruddery House & Garden
Kilruddery House in Wicklow are back hosting their Supper Clubs and while this is technically dinner, we think a relaxed countryside affair is the perfect way to shake up the usual date. They currently have tickets on sale for Saturday 12th February and Friday 25th February, where they’re planning on preparing a vegetable focused sharing plate menu using the bounty from their kitchen garden and grounds. It’s worth getting there early to explore the expansive grounds, and if you’re stuck for a last-minute present, Kilruddery Farm Shop sell a series of hampers including Bean & Goose chocolate (always a winner), dried flowers and seasonal potted arrangements. Find out more information here.
If none of these options float your boat, we have plenty of options for you to enjoy at home. Check out our feature here for the best at-home boxes for you to enjoy in the comfort of your own kitchen.