Romance is nice year ’round, not just for Valentine’s Day. As a long-time married partner, I urge you to take time to put romantic moments, places and vacations in your life. And they don’t have to be the most expensive spots in town — it’s all about ambience, atmosphere and the right partner! Some of my favorite romantic places are:
- In Paris, I love a small restaurant near the Seine, Chez Julien, http://www.beaumarly.com/chez-julien/contact, just off the Pont Louis Philippe. This is a small and charming bistro with wonderful food. Tucked into a corner with your beloved, a glass of champagne and gleaming candlelight — it can’t be beat for romance.
- In Sydney, almost anyplace that overlooks the Harbour and the Sydney Opera House will do. I like Quai Restaurant, www.quai.com.au; overlooking Harbour Bridge. Interesting food and a fabulous view. The night we were there, the Bridge was lit up with fireworks for some reason. We loved it.
- In Derbyshire, England — on the Chatsworth estate actually, sits a small, lovely hotel called The Cavendish, www.chatsworth.org/…/hotels…/the-cavendish; after the family name of the family who have been Dukes of Devonshire at Chatsworth for several centuries. The Cavendish is small and intimate, with a truly wonderful dining room. You might also take tea overlooking the grounds with a few cows and sheep to keep you company.
- In the Umbria region of Italy — in my favorite of many small towns is Todi — close to Orvieto and not far from the wonders of Assisi. Todi is filled with historical wonders and just off the main square is Ristorante Umbria, www.ristoranteumbria.it. Tucked into a stone corner, the interior of the restaurant is small and cozy, with green walls and an open fireplace. Just ahead is a large outdoor porch overlooking the plains of Umbria, with castles dotting the landscape below you. Here you should order fettuccini with truffles — you will never regret it. Also wonderful lamb chops cooked over the open fireplace. Great service with waiters who remember you from year to year.
- Sticking with Italy, in Venice try Da Fiori, www.dafiore.net. One of the best restaurants in Venice but not uppity about it — again, small and intimate, extraordinary food in a charming setting.
- In Marrakech: Kasbah Tamadot, www.kasbahtamadot.virgin.com; a real Kasbah just outside of the city. Here you can even stay in a Berber tent — a fabulous setting. Take a mule ride into the nearby Berber villages, or just settle down by the pool and relax.
- Favorite restaurant in Marrakech: Dar Moha, www.darmoha.ma, set in a beautiful Riad, (Moroccan house). Tables are set around the interior garden pool, rose petals drift on your tablecloth and your meal is accompanied by the soft strumming and drumming of the Gnawa musicians — this is romance at its peak. Your four-course Moroccan meal begins with Moroccan salad — about 20 delectable little dishes to nibble on, then the traditional Moroccan soup, followed by a tagine of perhaps meat, fruit and vegetables, followed by a huge couscous with vegetables and then a fabulous dessert. You roll out definitely in a romantic stupor.
- One more in Paris, the Bar at Le Meurice Hotel , right on the Rue de Rivoli, across from and a little past the Louvre; http://www.dorchestercollection.com/en/paris/le-meurice. Settle yourself in this bar, order a champagne kir and try to look mysterious. Your drink comes in a very tall glass accompanied by a little tray of yummy appetizers. In fact, you can make lunch out of this if your timing is right.
- More to say but am running out of space. By now you can see that I like intimate, even small places, with gleaming candlelight and brass fittings, good food and drink. Big, bigger and biggest does not appeal to me. I like looking across the table at my darling mate and maybe a discreet cuddle too. Happy Valentine’s Day!