Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and nothing shows love and affection like cooking a well-thought out meal for your loved ones. While a romantic dinner for two at a fancy restaurant is certainly nice, a homemade dinner, catered to the tastes of your loved one can really up the ante.

Setting the Mood

While the food is an integral part of celebrating Valentine’s Day, ambience is just as important. And this applies to a home cooked meal as much as it does to a dining out experience. Be sure to dim the lights, set the table, and buy fresh flowers. Make a playlist of songs that are upbeat and fun, but still in keeping with the Valentine’s Day theme. When in doubt – Frank Sinatra is always the right choice.

When planning a menu, it helps to have a theme to tie the several courses together. Tea, which is incredibly versatile and sophisticated, provides plenty of opportunity to show off your culinary prowess.

Choosing the Perfect Drink

Nothing says fancy quite like a well made drink. Although a rosé fits perfectly with the pink/red theme of Valentine’s Day, opt for something a little more playful –a Gin and Tonic lends itself nicely to creative twists, infused with a green tea with notes of blueberry and aronia, the tea accentuates the botanicals in the gin perfectly.

A Starter to Get the Evening Started

When it comes to starters, choose finger foods that really get you in the swing of things. A wheel of cheese, like camembert or brie, wrapped in pastry and baked till the pastry is crispand the cheese, gooey, is hard to beat. However, pair it with homemade crackers that have just a hint of citrus (a zesty black tea with notes of lemon), and your love for cheese will be forever.

An Easy and Impressive Main Course

A roast chicken may be homely, but it can also be dressed up for a fancy occasion. A tea-smoked roast chicken is as delicious as they come, and requires no fancy equipment.Although black tea is usually used, feel free to experiment with more floral or fruity teas to add another layer of complexity to the dish. A rich infusion of green coffee beans and sweet blackberry leaves will be divine.

Ending on a Sweet Note

If there’s one flavour that captures the essence of Valentine’s Day, it is chocolate. To round off the meal, make a velvety dark chocolate gelato that is rich and indulgent. A jasmine-tea-infused berry sauce will balance the richness, and provide a counterpoint to the chocolate.

Although making a dinner for a special someone requires a certain amount of planning and preparation, remember that the important thing is to have fun and spend time together. A menu that is hands-off, and where most of the cooking is done in advance, allows you to spend time with your loved one, ensuring that it a memorable evening for both of you.