How I (Don't) Celebrate Valentine's Day
When we were in grade school, I always thought Valentine’s Day was cut out for kids. The cute candy grams from secret admirers; the exchange of Disney-themed Valentine’s cards with tasty treats tacked on; red- and pink-frosted cupcakes washed down with cloyingly sweet punch. And who remembers those edible conversation hearts called Sweethearts? I was obsessed!
|Conversation hearts candy (photo source: http://www.edupic.net/)|
I didn’t realize how much significance Valentine’s Day carries among adults until I moved to Lebanon. Midway through January, restaurants here begin advertising set menus for Lovers’ Day, and they’re not confined to merely one day. Try the entire weekend either leading up to or following February 14! As of February 11, some venues have already started to unload their romance-laced festivities on guests.
And it seems the Lebanese love to love Lovers’ Day. What’s not to like about the astronomical surge in prices of flowers, chocolate, and oversize teddy bears? Who wouldn’t enjoy being forced to opt in to a $150 couple’s package of dinner and a “one-man show”? *grimace*
(In fact, just as I am writing this, I received an SMS for a Valentine’s promotion at a French bistro in Achrafieh.)
Ever since I met my husband, we’ve adopted an unconventional approach to the holiday. This year is no exception, as we’ll likely stay home and curl up to a marathon of Gossip Girl. Well, I will, at least. He’ll probably tune in to Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" via YouTube.
Since we're of the mind that you need no formal holiday to profess your feelings, we reverence every day. How, precisely? Here are some ideas, untethered from cliché.
I recently stumbled upon a website called feel22.com that retails all things cosmetics, fragrance, nail, hair and body care. Given how polished and easy-to-navigate the website is, I was astounded to learn it is 100% local and Lebanese. The best part is it runs the gamut of international brands at decent prices.
|The feel22.com website is so easy to use|
A few weeks ago, I took advantage of their promotion on fragrances and nabbed a men’s Lacoste L.12.12 Eau de Toilette (100 mL) for $50, 20% off its original listing of $65. It took a few seconds to create an account and put in my order, and within 24 hours, the package was delivered to my office in downtown Beirut, free of charge.
|Delivered right to my office, free of charge!|
In short, I was able to nab a thoughtful, affordable gift for my spouse in mere minutes, free of the hassle of traffic, queuing at a cash register, and forking over unjustified sums of dinero.
If you want to pamper yourself or someone you love, definitely visit feel22.com, and save 10% off your order with promo code BEIRUTISTAFEEL22. You're welcome!
If splurging is in the cards, go all out and book a Couple’s Retreat at the luxurious Le Gray hotel. I didn’t even wait for the month of February to transform an ordinary Monday evening after work into sensational R&R with my boo.
At Le Gray, no detail is overlooked, from the disposable underwear and bathrobe you’re instructed to slip on, to the firm and steady hand movements of the masseuses, to an indulgent dark chocolate fondue post-massage, coupled with champagne. You won’t want to leave this Garden of Eden, so make the most of the relaxing lounge, steam room, and shower to perpetuate the aura of paradise.
|The face of paradise|
Staying home on V-Day (or any day for that matter) is so underrated. What could be more satisfying than orchestrating the night at your pace, per your romantic whims and culinary fancies?
Sure, you can cook up a storm for your beloved (or yourself), but why bother with dishes on your day off?
I’ve been exploiting Zaatar W Zeit’s nifty app (Google Play, Apple Store). With customizable wraps, manakish, salads, and pizzas, ordering and specifying my desired time of delivery has never been easier than 1-2-3, Z-W-Z.
Apply promo code ZWZBEIRUTISTA at check-out, and save 20% off your total bill. For first-time users, you’ll also get a free choco-banana wrap. Nothing spells romance better than Nutella!
|ZWZ's slogan is "Love Regardless", aka "regardless of whether it's Valentine's Day"!|
|Pizza is always the answer|
No list of mine is complete without my favorite imports wholesaler, Wesley’s. It’s become a veritable second home, and I love strolling through each aisle purposefully, scanning products and newbies and reading nutrition facts with interest. Wesley’s Hazmieh's first-floor stronghold Orange Label features a host of handmade chocolate, local and international wine labels, elaborate stationery and other novelties, both edible and non.
|Gourmet chocolate at Wesley's Orange Label|
|There are also local and international wine labels at Wesley's Hazmieh|
On the ground floor, you can pick up a box of easy-bake cake or brownie mix by Pillsbury and pass off the delectable final product as your own—no one’ll ever know! Downstairs, look for those intoxicatingly fragrant Yankee scented candles. Nothing like a beautiful aroma to set the mood!
If you need more ideas on how to spoil yourself silly, particularly as a gourmet, there’s no shortage of inspiration on this blog. Navigate and explore posts here, and if you still find yourself at a loss, you’re taking things way too seriously.
In which case, congratulations: you’re a bona fide Lebanese.