Partner yoga. Photo courtesy of Robert Kneschke.

Want to spice things up this Valentine’s Day, but don’t have quite enough time for a trip or money for a fancy dinner? Epicure & Culture has collected some exceptional ideas to create world-class romantic experiences at home. From apps to help you pull off exotic homemade meals to snuggling under the stars with hot chocolate spiked with global spices, your night will be anything but ordinary. Even better, these ideas don’t expire on February 14th, so surprise your sweetheart any time of the year!

romantic experiences
Spice Kit. Photo courtesy of Beekman 1802.

1) Stargazing With World Spice Hot Cocoa

Chocolate is synonymous with Valentine’s Day, but you can do better than drug store candy. Beekman 1802’s Around-The-World Hot Cocoa Spice Kit ($65) pleases hot chocolate lovers across the globe with an assortment of spices to enhance your favorite molten beverage. Add a pinch of one — or a combo of any — of the nine spices in this kit and suddenly you’ll be sipping Mexican, Scandinavian, Spanish, Asian and Italian hot chocolates. We personally love the Spicy Saigon Cinnamon, practically whisking you away to Vietnam.

Bonus idea: For an extra special night, use colder weather as an excuse to cuddle. Grab a blanket, thermos and head outside to snuggle under the stars.

romantic experiences
Creator of Treehouse Chocolates showcasing some merchandise. Photo courtesy of Treehouse Chocolates.

2) Ice Skating & Peruvian Drinking Chocolate

If you want the perfect base for your warm drink, Treehouse Chocolate (5 for $15) offers thick and delicious drinking chocolate. Just add boiling water or milk to the rich chocolate mix and prepare two mugs of drinking chocolate for Valentine’s Day. This Portland, Oregon company crafts their mixes in small batches sourced from Acopagro farmer owned cooperative in Northern Peru. Savor the Jacobsen’s Sea Salt flavor, the organic espresso or a vegan option with coconut nectar.

Bonus idea: If drinking molten chocolate isn’t enough of an experience, bring it to the rink for an extra sweet skating experience.

romantic experiences
Partner yoga. Photo courtesy of Robert Kneschke.

3) Candlelit Partner Yoga

What better way to build a relationship than bringing your partner into one of your favorite hobbies? Partner Yoga uses the presence of another to elevate the yoga experience, while building trust, balance, creativity and compassion. You and your partner will work together, support each other and play together as you stretch and strength your bodies.

For a DIY experience, roll out your yoga mats, YouTube a class or sign up for YogaDownload, and add romance by dimming the lights as candles flicker. To create an exotic atmosphere, try a Sandalwood Candle ($82) from Goa, India, a hippie haven for decades. This scent has a woody base with spicy accents of cardamom and cumin to culminating in a simultaneously sacred and sexy fragrance.

romantic experiences
Romance cocktail. Photo courtesy of Hyatt Regency Trinidad.

4) Caribbean Cocktails & Calypso

If you want to warm things up but can’t board a plane to the Caribbean, let tropical flavors come to you. Fortunately, three of Hyatt Regency Trinidad’s finest bartenders: Mark, Deisha and Ricard, are sharing one of their favorite secrets with you. They’ve created a refreshing cocktail that captures Trinidad and Tobago’s vibrant spirit and tastes like love in its truest form. Like the Piper-Brut Rose wine at its base, “Romance” is a simultaneously sophisticated and playful cocktail, bursting with full-bodied, fruity flavor. Its fresh intense taste will leave the drinker starry-eyed, dreamy and in love.

To further cultivate the mood, play some rhythmic soca or steel pan music, then sweep your sweetheart off their feet for some calypso.

· 1 oz Pink Guava Mix
· 1 oz Strawberry Mix
· Top with Piper-Brut Rose
· 1 Fresh Strawberry Sliced for Garnish

Mixing Instructions:
Using a poco grande glass, use white sugar to rim the glass. Pour ingredients into glass using the building method. First place the four slices of strawberry into the glass, then add 1 ounce of strawberry mix, then 1 ounce of pink guava. Ice is then added to the glass, followed by a top off of the rose. The glass is garnished with sugar and one fresh strawberry, sliced in the center and placed on the edge of the glass.

romantic experiences
Moroccan Argan Oil. Photo courtesy of Luisa Puccini.

5) Moroccan Argan Oil Massage

Treat your partner like royalty with a Moroccan Argan oil massage. Argan oil is a plant oil produced from the kernels of the Argan tree, an endemic species to Morocco. In Morocco, Argan oil is used both for culinary and cosmetic purposes. Its non-oily properties and Vitamin E richness make it especially useful for the skin and hair. Moreover, it’s been used as a spa treatment for Moroccan royal families for centuries. Give your sweetheart their own royal treatment with a massage to promote relaxation, skin toning, muscle and joint relief in addition to mental and physical pleasure toward your masseuse.

Tip: Organic and Fair Trade Argan products are best bought from certified co-ops, preferably on site.

romantic experiences
Mexican Chocolate Pot de Creme. Photo courtesy of SideChef.

6) Virtual Cooking Assistant To Pull-Off A Global Dinner

Knock the socks off your significant other this Valentine’s Day by creating your own world class meal in the comfort of your home. Not convinced you can pull it off? SideChef is a virtual assistance culinary app that guides you with videos, photographs and tips for each step. Home cooks can search by region and pick from over 2,500 global recipes, including berry and rose sangria from Spain, cabernet-braised short ribs with parmesan polenta from Italy and chana masala with roti from India. There’s also a delicious Mexican chocolate pot de creme recipe, listed below.

Mexican “Hot Chocolate” Pot de Crème
Serves 6
Active Cooking Time 15 Minutes
(Chill for 3 hours)

12 oz Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
4 Eggs at room temperature
1 tbsp. Vanilla Extract
¼ tsp Ground Cayenne
¼ tsp Chili Powder
½ tsp Ground Cinnamon
¼ tsp Salt
1 cup Cold Brewed Coffee
1 cup Heavy Cream
2 tbsp. Powdered Sugar
¼ tsp Vanilla Extract
¼ tsp Ground Cinnamon

  1. In a blender, combine the chocolate chips and eggs. Blend for 10-15 seconds, until combined but still a bit chunky.
  2. Heat the cold brew coffee in the microwave or a sauce pot until very hot.
  3. With the blender running on low, stream in the coffee.
  4. When the mixture is smooth, add in the vanilla, cayenne, chili powder, cinnamon, and salt. Blend for another 10 seconds.
  5. Divide the mixture between 6 ramekins or small cups. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, until the custard is set.
  6. In a chilled bowl, whip the 1 cup heavy cream, sugar, and whiskey with a hand mixer until fluffy.
  7. Serve the pot de crème chilled with a dollop of cinnamon whipped cream and a shaving of cinnamon.
romantic experiences
Running clothes that promote a world of good. Photo courtesy of Janji.

7) Feel-Good Romantic Run

Does fresh air and freedom keep the fire alive in your relationship? If you and your partner love to run, feel good about adding to your workout wardrobe and helping provide clean drinking water worldwide. Surprise your loved one with a new outfit from Janji, where each purchase will provide clean water in countries around the world. Whether you chose your outfit based on the country you want to help — including Ethiopia, Haiti, Kenya, India, Peru, Rwanda, Tanzania or the US — or what color looks best with your loved one’s eyes, someone else will be feeling the love too with access to one of the Earth’s most precious resources.

romantic experiences
Saffron fleurtation. Photo courtesy of Fork Me, Spoon Me.

8) Mediterranean Champagne Cocktails

Fork Me, Spoon Me: the Sensual Cookbook by Amy Reiley is filled with ideas to set the sparks flying, as each features the aphrodisiac power of ingredients like almonds, vanilla, rosemary, mint, chocolate, chile, ginger, mango, peaches, saffron and figs. Get your lover feeling bubbly with the “Saffron Fleurtation,” a simple cocktail made by sprinkling a pinch of toasted, pulverized saffron to Champagne. Saffron is one of the world’s most prized spices, derived from the saffron crocus flower. In this recipe you’ll use saffron threads, made from the styles and stigmas of the flower. Savoring the spice is a truly global experience, as saffron was first cultivated in Greece, is popular in Spain, Persians pride themselves on growing the world’s best and the spice bazaar in Istanbul is a great place grab some of the famous Iranian variety.

Saffron Fleurtation
from Fork Me, Spoon Me: the Sensual Cookbook

1 Bottle Brut Champagne or Sparkling Wine
20 Saffron Threads (lightly toasted)

Crumble 5 saffron threads in each of two Champagne flutes. Top with Champagne and toast to the art of flirtation. Drain and repeat.

romantic experiences
Foot rub. Photo courtesy of One Inch Punch.

9) A Foot Rub Guided by Ancient Eastern Methods

If you want to spread your Champagne buzz from your fingers to your toes, a foot rub can do just the trick. Allowing your partner to put their feet up and get pampered is one of the best gifts you can give. Feet take a pounding, so a brisk exfoliation followed by a loving massage will help them, and your partner, feel brand new.

Day Break Lavender Farm put together an Ultimate Hand and Foot Collection ($78.95) with tools, oils and creams so you’ll have all you need for the perfect mani-pedi. Furthermore, their spa treatment guide shares ancient Eastern wisdom to help you execute the perfect foot rub, with information about pressure points and more.

romantic experiences

Katie Foote

Katie Foote may be a physicist by trade but she spent several years travelling the world as much as possible. After four years of semi-nomadic life, she spent a couple years in Auckland, New Zealand and recently moved to Vancouver, Canada. Despite living more traditionally, she has insight on how to travel the world on a graduate student budget (cheap!), explore off-the-beaten-path destinations and authentically experiencing new places by connecting to locals. When she's not doing physics or globe-trotting, she likes kickboxing, yoga and exploring her extraordinary new backyard of British Columbia.

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