WITH CAM O’KEEFE
And no, that’s not V for Vendetta. Everyone’s favourite Hallmark occasion, Valentine’s Day, is upon us.
Do we need this day? Probably not, but that’s not really for you and I to discuss right now. Instead, we’re going to cover off on a few of the better options available to make (or save) your big day. Let’s start with obvious: who’s doing what and why should you consider them first.
In terms of the heavy hitting restaurants throughout our Geelong region, the hottest tables in town become even desirable come this date every year. Pick up the phone now if the likes of Brae, Tulip, La Cachette and Felix are of any interest, as these fancier and (let’s face it) more romantic options are always the first to fill. I really don’t get why some of our other, more serious food destinations don’t open for Valentines when it falls on a day the venue usually closes. Mortadeli’s pasta bar, Provenance Wines’ under-the-radar restaurant, and two-hatted Moonah all spring to mind. It’s money in the bank and I just don’t get it: places like this all have a strong reputation and are guaranteed to be full. Bizarre.
As there’s nothing sexier than a great bowl of pasta, a good V-Day pick could be Carrugi, who are offering their usual rustic (and completely tasty) menu to cater to the lover masses. I seem to forget about this place a bit, but what’s not to like: the homely Italian welcome; the freshly made pasta dishes; the cosy, candlelit dining areas (the list goes on). It’s a delicious slice of Piedmont – one of Italy’s most northern and celebrated wine and food regions – found along Little Malop.
Sticking in the CBD and as an alternative Valentines statement for your dearest, 18th Amendment is hosting a special Love Libations event. Pitched as a “A Romantic Prelude or Encore to your Valentines Day” (their words, not mine) it ensures your day/night at least starts, or ends, the right way. Well actually, that bit’s up for debate (cough) but two drinks on arrival, a further two from their cocktail list, plus food to share (at $70 per couple) is surely going to get you close. The early bookings start from 5.30pm, while the later finish at 9.30pm.
As I suggest every year to those wanting to best celebrate their loved-up time together, here’s a thought: why does it have to be February 14? The day prior (as well as the day following) is a brilliant decision, as venues are much quieter and much more accommodating. Given you’ll get twice the amount of service (and twice as less PDAs) this is always a preferred time to enjoy a more romantic occasion. Think of it this way: when do hospitality staff get celebrate and enjoy Valentines? Exactly.
Is chocolates more your go? There’s simply one choice here. Found along the river-end of Newtown, the Geelong franchise of this Adelaide Hill’s chocolat extraordinaire, Hahndorf’s, is the goods. Period. And flowers? Well, Flower Bowl (both CBD and Geelong West) always do a fabulous job on delivering the goods (both literally and physically).
Is there a safe option, I hear you say? Well, in terms of Valentine’s Day that can only mean the ever faithful “voucher option”. Although, which to choose here: travel, make-up, Lovehoney…? The hair option is always a safe path in my books. I know this column is meant to be about local hospitality, wine and food, but if I can indulge for a minute and talk about a rather-unknown subject to me, let that be of hair. As Morrissey once said: “I do maintain that if your hair is wrong, your entire life is wrong”, and so it is I believe that most valuable gift you can give your loved-one this V-Day is a hair voucher. My loved-one receives (annually) a ticket to the super stylish hair salon that is TCLO.HAIR on Pakington Street (who is also a fellow Smith’s lover). Services, vouchers and appointments all available online.
To top off any serious Valentines occasion calls for some fizzy wine (clearly). Staying local, Geelong’s finest ever sparkling wine produced is perhaps Nadeson Collins (an off-shoot of Lethbridge Winery). Even though the Geelong region is flooded with good quality chardonnay and pinot noir, NC’s Inception cuvée deserves your attention for that big romantic gesture. Available at Archive (Belmont) or Geelong Cellar Door (CBD) – think around $65.
And in terms of my Valentines? Well I’ll be cooking (AKA takeaway) and I’ll have the butler (AKA the local bottle’o) suggest some nice fizzy wine (AKA the good French stuff) and voilà: job done. I’ll do good, right… right?!Carrugi is offering their usual rustic (and completely tasty) menu to cater to the masses of lovebirds on Valentine’s Day.