Valentines on a budget.

Happy February everyone. Been a little quiet on account of my starting a new job and house hunting but here i am for ideas for a frugal valentines day! If you don’t have a significant other take a friend, treat a parent or do it on your own. Don’t you let some silly day tell you what to do!

1) Bristol Zoo – “Cheep Romance”

Only £20 per couple if you take a voucher, if you are really lucky you might see one of the zoos famous cannibalistic displays…

2) The Ox

If you and your beloved are happy to postpone Valentines day for a weekday (i would, trying to get anywhere on a Saturday night is going to be a nightmare) you can take The Ox up on their early bird special £12.50 for steak, chips, sauce and a glass of wine and change from £25 for both of you. Sat below the Commercial Rooms, one of the grander Wetherspoons in the area, you could get pretty toasted for an extra £20 each after dinner.

3) The Bristol to Bath Cycle Route.

Head down early either on foot or by bike, grab a coffee halfway at The Warmley Waiting Room and take in some wonderful winter air. Once you get into Bath you can share a ham toasty and jump on the train back for £7.20 each.

4) Borrow a dog and go to the park

Bristol has some fabulous green spaces and woods. Borrow a dog (or if you are really brave, a child) or take your own if you’re lucky. Fly a kite/throw a frisbee/kick a football about, get the heart pumping and the face flushed, its sexy.

5) Pub and a takeaway

Don’t underestimate the power of a boozy weekend lunch and a Saturday night takeaway. Pop a few of your favourite films on (The Thing or Aliens are fine choices) and snuggle up on the sofa. Meals.co.uk delivers great food to your door from places that you wouldn’t find on other websites. Burger Theory is one of my favorites

6) Cook together!

I’m terrible for letting people into the kitchen but cooking together can be fun (i need to be a bit hammered before i will let my other half anywhere near the oven). Choose a three course menu in your budget (i have suggested a reasonable one below) or nip to Sainsbury’s for their two pizzas and a Vienetta for £4 deal. On the other hand M&S are offering something a bit more up market. Pair your meal with a cheap bottle of plonk or a few bottles of some nice beers (try Corks of Cotham, Brewers Droop or popping into your favourite bars to buy bottles from them if you don’t live near by).

7) Clifton Suspension Bridge

It’s rather pretty at night and free to walk on, it’s a romantic backdrop if you were planning to be rather predictive and pop the question.

8) Tour some local museums or art galleries

MShed and Bristol Museum are free and there are some lovely galleries in around the city centre. I suggest a buzzword bingo card with some pretentious words and phrases you can tick off when you hear arty types say them.

9) Ferry Boat Ride

Jump on from anywhere on the harbour and stay for the trip or jump off at some of the local pubs for a swift half. Make sure you only get on the Blue and Yellow boats though! (NB totally bias as i used to work there), if you pick a quiet trip the skippers are happy to talk about the history of the docks and point out some wildlife.

10) Goth Valentines at Arnos Vale

No romantic list is over until the most famous graveyard in Bristol is mention. Beautiful, quite and a little bit eerie its a must see for couples that fancy a bit of the macabre with their romance. Take a camera (but be respectful) and grab a slice of cake in the cafe.

Thee course meal for two you can make at home

To start:

Keep it simple, stupid!

Tomato Bruschetta

You will need:

  • Crunchy bread or sourdough
  • Garlic
  • Cherry tomattos
  • Fresh Basil
  • Olive oil
  • Seasoning

Simply toast the bread, rub your garlic clove all over it and then add the chopped cherry toms, fresh basil and a drizzle of oli oil.

Main

I was going to suggest steak but decent steak (and there is no point getting crap steak) is expensive and i remembered the meal that used to drive someone i used to know wild..

Toad in the hole with really smashing gravy

Jamie Olivers recipe has done me proud time and time again, just half the amounts for enough for two greedy people and use veggie sausages if you are that way inclined.

Pudding (if you have room)

Now, to me, nothing says i love you than carb loading, booze and meat. These puddings a a joy as they are make ahead and will take EXACTLY 11 minutes in the oven (if you have my oven, if you don’t…well keep an eye on them)

Chocolate lava cakes, my take on Gordon Ramsey’s

You will need

  • 50g melted butter, for brushing
  • cocoa powder, for dusting
  • 200g good-quality dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • 200g butter, in small pieces
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 4 eggs and 4 yolks
  • 200g plain flour
  1. First get your moulds ready, those Gu pots are good or charity shop search for some ramekins. liberally brush the melted butter all over the inside of the moulds. Add a good spoonful of cocoa powder into the moulds, coat the insides, knock out the excess and pop into the fridge.
  2. Place a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, then slowly melt the chocolate and butter together. Remove bowl from the heat and stir until smooth. Leave to cool for about 10 mins.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs and yolks together with the sugar until thick and pale and the whisk leaves a trail; use an electric whisk if you want. Sift the flour into the eggs, then beat together.
  4. Pour the melted chocolate into the egg mixture in thirds, beating well between each addition, until all the chocolate is added and the mixture is completely combined to a loose cake batter.
  5. Tip the fondant batter into a jug, then evenly divide between the moulds. The fondants can now be frozen for up to a month and cooked from frozen. Chill for at least 20 mins or up to the night before. To bake from frozen, simply carry on as stated, adding 5 mins more to the cooking time.
  6. Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Place the fondants on a baking tray, then cook for 10-12 mins until the tops have formed a crust and they are starting to come away from the sides of their moulds. Remove from the oven, then leave to sit for 1 min before turning out.
  7. Loosen the fondants by moving the tops very gently so they come away from the sides, easing them out of the moulds. Tip each fondant slightly onto your hand so you know it has come away, then tip back into the mould ready to plate up.
  8. Serve with some good quality vanilla ice cream

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