A COVID Safe Valentines Day Plan
This year definitely is operating under some new restrictions. With COVID-19 still looming and vaccinations not yet distributed widely, it’s important to keep in mind keeping social distance and staying out of doors. That said, I’m sure I’m just like many people in my desire to get out of the house. My girlfriend and I decided that instead of gifts this year we’d plan COVID safe experiences for Valentine’s Day.
I have a bit of an obsession with the glamour lifestyle of the 1960s, and in that vein I thought a gourmet picnic was just the thing to do. The bonus is that it allows me to cook, which is something I can do which is an act of service, and it gets us out of the house without putting us in an at-risk position such as going to a restaurant for lunch.
In order to make this a reality, I needed a plan. It’s now been formulated and confirmed, and some of the materials already ordered and received. In case anyone else out there needs to reference this idea, I figured I’d write it up with links.
You can’t have a picnic without a proper picnic basket, at least in my book. I did a ton of research and ended up with the aptly named Picnic at Ascot Cheshire Picnic Basket Set for Two which also happens to be available on Amazon if you don’t want to wait on shipping. The reasons I picked this particular basket is that it included MOST, but not all, the equipment you’ll need, and it’s of high quality. Both the basket itself and the contents are quality goods. The basket features a woven construction with leather hinges and closures, includes stainless steel flatware, real glass wine glasses, glass salt and pepper shakers, and ceramic plates, as well as cloth napkins. Importantly the set also includes a nice picnic blanket, a small cooler that fits in the basket, a (very) small cheese board and cheese knife, and an insulated wine bottle carrier with a shoulder strap.
You can find lots of articles online with various recommendations around picnic equipment. Most of what you’ll need is included in this kit and works well together, and more importantly has a place in the basket it straps in. The few things not included you might want to consider based on your menu are small glass jars for jams, chutneys, and sauces, small squeeze bottles for condiments like ketchup and mustard, and wipes for cleanup. I also bought a utility knife with a sheath, a small tray to set drinks on so they won’t spill on uneven ground, and this Rubbermaid Fasten n Go Entree Set to hold some of the food I plan to bring.
Not really equipment, but an honestly good tip I saw online was to freeze bottled water instead of using ice packs as it helps keep your food cold and then as it melts you have ice water to drink.
That brings us to the next part… The Menu.
I wanted to go for something that’s mostly Summer-inspired, even though it’s not really Summer yet. I also needed to make things that I could do the day or two days ahead of time, so that morning I just need to pack the basket and go. I’m going to link to the recipes I found online I’m using, or if not from online will note the recipe here.
Sauvignon Blanc White Wine
Pomegranate Mint Lemonade (recipe below)
Rosemary Sourdough Bread
Thinly Sliced Kanzi and Snap Dragon Apples
Mango Peach Preserves
Pear, Date, and Cognac Chutney
Deli Style Brown Mustard
Apple & Walnut Smoked White Cheddar
12-Month Aged Manchego
Farmhouse Style Yellow Cheddar with Italian Truffles
Le Gruyere AOP
Rosemary and Olive Oil Aged Asiago
Dry-Cured Spanish Chorizo
HEB In-House Traditional Roast Beef
Peppered Dry Salame
How to Make Pomegranate Mint Lemonade
- Prepare your lemon juice by freshly squeezing 1 and 2/3 cups of lemon juice, roughly 10 large lemons.
- Take 2 tablespoons of fresh mint leaves and neatly julienne them, saving some whole leaves for garnish optionally.
- Slice 1 lemon into 1/4 inch thick slices
- In a large pitcher half-filled with ice, add 2 cups of filtered or spring water, the lemon juice, 1/3 cup of pomegranate orange blossom simply syrup, your julienned mint and lemon slices.
- Stir to combine.
You can serve over ice with a garnish of mint leaves or a lemon slice over the edge of the glass if you like.
Valentine’s Day hasn’t happened yet, but if you’re still trying to find a COVID safe idea, consider looking for natural areas or parks near you and having a picnic. It’s something that’s nice to do, intimate, out of doors, and socially distanced from others. The perfect sort of activity for 2021.