This Valentine’s Day, skip the tried-and-true dinner for two at a restaurant and do something a little more adventurous. Make some memories this V-Day with outdoorsy activities, hands-on dinner plans and more.
Preparing a gourmet meal for your special love is always a great way to spend Valentine’s Day. But this year, instead of whipping up that favorite recipe, try something a little different and take a cooking class at The Good Life.
On February 12 from 6-8 p.m., The Good Life will be hosting a special cooking course using the special romantic day’s go-to ingredient, chocolate. Chef Kristina San Filippo will lead eager chefs-in-training with a chocolate taste test to begin the class, followed by a step-by-step tutorial in preparing three wonderful, delectable recipes: roasted pork loin with cocoa spice rub over seasonal salad; Mexican red molé sauce with locally sourced fish and forbidden rice; and dark chocolate and red wine torte with fresh fruit.
Now this V-Day excursion can go one of two ways: either sneak away to take the class solo, to surprise her or him with your newfound cooking prowess; or, make it a pre-Valentine’s Day field trip, opting to cook together on Friday. Either way, the meal is bound to be A-plus.
- Admission costs $65 per person.
- Reservations are required. Call 239-514-4663 to reserve a spot.
- For more information, visit goodlifenaples.com.
For the outdoorsy couple, or those looking to explore the natural surroundings of Southwest Florida in the confines of a 4×4, hop aboard one of the brightly painted vehicles at Orange Jeep Tours. With a capacity of six riders, the Jeeps depart from the New Home and Welcome Center in Ave Maria, taking on the natural terrain as only a Wrangler can. The drivers, all expert off-roaders fully versed in the history of the land, narrate along the way, pointing out wildlife, discussing the history of the land and dropping tidbits of knowledge about the habitat along the way.
For Valentine’s Day, Orange Jeep will be leading both 90-minute sunrise and sunset tours for the early bird and night owl. The sunset ride is especially interesting, with a variety of animals and critters all aflutter as they return to their abodes after their daytime activities, while the nocturnal bunch is just beginning to emerge from a long day of slumber. What’s more, Orange Jeep is currently running a special for V-Day, offering $10 off when mentioning “nature lover” upon sign-up.
- Tours cost $35 per rider.
- For more information and to RSVP, call 239-434-5337 or visit orangejeeptours.com.
This one’s for the fashionista in your life. Third Street South retailer Br Uno will be hosting an exclusive trunk show this Valentine’s Day with Vietnamese designer Chan Luu. She creates wrap bracelets that incorporate organic shapes with a contemporary aesthetic; these handmade pieces include hand-cut stones, custom-dyed leather and precious metals for a unique wearable look.
Chan Luu will be on hand from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., discussing her latest work and design sensibility, and answering any style questions that may arise. Surprise that special someone with a seemingly impromptu shopping trip and meet-and-greet with the designer herself.
Avid sailor? Wish to be? Heed the call of the sea and strike out on the wind water aboard a 14-foot Hobie Cat Wave, with you at the helm. It’s as easy as heading up to Bonita Beach and seeking out Bonita Jet Ski and Parasail [right at Doc’s Beach House]. Offering Hobie Cat sailboat rentals by the hour ($60) and four-hour increments ($180), the rental outfit allows sailors to strike out on their own and cruise the Gulf at their leisure. Never sailed before? No worries. The 30-minute course ($30) will have you captaining the mini catamaran like a seasoned salt.
Hobie’s Wave model is extremely beginner-friendly and exceedingly stable (the magic of multihulls), allowing for even the greenest of crewmembers to bolster their sea legs and grow confident while pulling the mainsheet and manning the tiller. But when the wind is right, these little twin-hull demons can cruise with speed—making for a great time for salty dogs and landlubbers alike. As the vessels are large enough to seat four, make a family day of it or bring some friends.
For Valentine’s Day, pack a picnic lunch (in a watertight container), and sail down to a more secluded part of the beach. The cat’s trampoline and shade from the sail make for the perfect beachside picnic locale—waterfront dining as it was intended.
- Reservations are encouraged. Call 239-825-7559.
- For more information, visit bonitajetski.com.
Wine and Dine
For a picnic of epic proportions, check out these recipes from Chef Lisa Resch from Carolina Catering Co., a true fete for your loved one.
Flowers seem to be the go-to Valentine’s Day gift, but what can be more depressing and unfitting, symbolically speaking, than a dozen dying roses, wilting day be day until you are stuck with an oversized vase that does not fit properly in the kitchen cabinet?
This year, buck the trend and buy a tree to plant in the backyard, so that it will grow and mature much as your love for another. I have always been a sucker for oak, strong and sturdy with a canopy second to none. And once it’s large enough, it can house one heck of a tree fort. If you are looking for a gift that keeps on giving, get a fruit tree and literally enjoy its ‘fruits of labor’ for years to come. For native and ornamentals trees and shrubs (all hand-picked!), check out Collier Fruit Growers on Golden Gate Parkway. The nonprofit’s mission of “introducing, propagating and distributing” rare tropical and subtropical fruit trees makes for an interesting collection of fruits to choose from.
- On February 22, Collier Fruit Growers will be hosting a fruit tree sale at Freedom Park from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. For more information, visit collierfruit.org.
If you are not into the whole planting gig, or do not have the space to grow your own tree, buy a tree to be planted in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest with The Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees campaign. One of the most diverse and endangered forests on the planet, home to innumerable species (plant, animal, insect and avian), the Atlantic Forest rainforest has been a region of extensive deforestation (roughly only 12 percent of its original area remains), but it is making a turn for the better with the help of concerned global citizens. The Plant a Billion Trees campaign will plant one tree for every dollar donated, with a goal of hitting one billion trees, reclaiming one million acres of forest by 2015. Currently The Nature Conservancy has reached a little more than 15 percent of its fundraising goal, hovering around $15.03 million.
- Make this Valentine’s Day sustainable and world-changing by pledging your support: plantabillion.org
If you’re green thumb is not so bright, head to Collier County’s Extension office for some tips and training in gardening. Part of the Cooperative Extension System, a nationwide, noncredit educational network tied to each state’s land-grant university (the University of Florida is ours), the Collier County office in Immokalee is the local headquarters where the public can access research-based information from the university. This includes data on all types of studies done at the university focusing on crops, regional adaptability, fertilizers, seed, technique, equipment, and much more, as well as a place where demonstrations, seminars and workshops can take place, all in order to promote gardening and growing in Collier County.
- For a list of what’s growing at the extension office, visit collier.ifas.ufl.edu.