It is said, ‘love makes the world go round’, and we believe this motto couldn’t be truer in 2021. Valentine’s Day or not, ignite some romance with an indoors date night. Whether you’re a couple, living with friends, or even flying solo and in search of some self-love: there’s no need for anyone to miss out. Swap your lycra for some love, banana bread for brownies and zoom calls for cocktails. Read on for our ultimate guide to your indoors date night.
Ultimate Guide to your Indoors Date Night
To jazz up your everyday surroundings, Food Editor and Stylist Debby Donnelly-Addison says that ‘the key to the perfect table is abundance. Short vases filled with blooms, scatterings of tea lights, each place setting adorned with a linen napkin, cutlery, and spring of eucalyptus tied with an organza ribbon. It’s the little details that count’
Meanwhile, if you’re bored of the same old booze, break from monotony with a sexy sparkling number to cheers to. Award-winning wine expert and author Helen McGinn has shared with us a simple sparkling cocktail to make at home she says, ‘combines two of my favourite things: sparkling wine and gin’. Based on a French 75, this classic cocktail is made with champagne, gin and lemon juice, but you ‘can use any sparkling wine you have to hand’ she tells us.
15ml fresh lemon juice
15ml sugar syrup (don’t bother if using prosecco as this already has some sweetness)
Champagne or other sparkling wine
Twist of lemon peel
Put a couple of ice cubes in a cocktail shaker and add the gin, lemon juice and sugar syrup. Strain into a chilled coupe or flute and top up with chilled champagne. Add a twist of lemon peel and serve with love.
Helen’s new book ‘This Changes Everything’, is out on 9th of February 2021. Pre-order on Amazon.co.uk today.
Kisses & Camembert from Champagne + Fromage
Who knows how to do romance better than the French? Turn on your tastebuds and treat yourselves to Champagne + Fromage’s best-selling bottle of champagne, the Colin Cuvee Alliance, alongside The Gourmand Cheese Box. The complete French experience, this box includes three types of cheese: a whole Camembert and 15-month aged Comte, along with a wild boar terrine, some saucisson and fig jam.
A shop and bistro, Champagne + Fromage brings rustic fare and fizz to London, served the French way. First opening back in Covent Garden in 2011 today they have multiple locations along with an online shop.
Colin Cuvee Alliance is available at £41, and The Gourmand cheese box is £39.
Blushing brownies from Jack and Beyond
Delivered by hand across the city are Jack and Beyond’s romantic baked treats. Whether it’s an anniversary or a ‘just because’ surprise, the Fulham based bakery has a collection of heart-warming options which can be sent with a personal (or anonymous!) message for a thoughtful touch.
Brownie masters, their indulgent red velvet brownies have a smooth and creamy texture with a vibrant pattern and are the perfect romantic gift. Meanwhile, other flavours also include white chocolate and pistachio, black forest, cookies and cream, salted caramel, peanut butter and vegan chocolate and raspberry brownies.
For customers in London, Jack and Beyond will also hand deliver red velvet cupcakes with vanilla mascarpone and cream cheese frosting with meringue hearts on top for the finishing touch.
Finally, the Red Berry Pavlova makes the ultimate treat to finish a romantic dinner. Topped with whipped cream and fresh fruits such as raspberries, pomegranate seeds and strawberries on top of the giant meringue, it can also be personalised with an inscription.
An eight pack of brownies is available at £28.80, cupcakes from £3.60 each and the Red Berry Pavlova is available at £26.
Sexy sushi and cute cocktails from Issho-Ni
Translating as ‘together with’ in Japanese is Issho-Ni, the Bethnal Green Road Japanese restaurant and cocktail bar which has a simple concept of serving delicious small sharing plates of Japanese food, Izakaya style. Most recently, Issho-Ni has launched a new sushi and cocktail combo, for the ultimate lockdown indoors date night.
Peruse their 34-piece sushi platter which includes salmon and tuna slices, assorted nigiri and prawn tempura, spicy tuna and salmon & avocado maki which has been expertly paired with four of their best-selling cocktails. These include the tequila and mezcal based Shisorita, the whiskey-based Tsukiji, gin and white vermouth Tori from Fushimi, and the bourbon and vanilla bitters Kamikaze cocktail.
The sushi and cocktail combo is currently available at a special price of £60.
Kanji Furukawa’s Heart Shaped Maki Sushi Rolls
Should you want to have a go at making your own sushi, Kanji Furukawa, the Executive Chef at Japan Centre has shared his heavenly heart-shaped sushi recipe. With the opportunity to be filled with your and your loved one’s favourite sushi fillings, show your love with these heart-shaped maki sushi rolls for you to try at home.
sushi vinegar (1 tbsp per 250g cooked rice)
sushi ginger (optional)
raw tuna or salmon (optional)
tobiko fish roe egg (optional)
sesame seeds (optional)
Kanji Furukawa’s Method:
1. ‘Before you make maki sushi, you need to prepare the sushi rice that will be used. You can follow our online rice recipe, or brown sticky rice recipe to find out how to make perfect sticky Japanese rice and then how to add sushi vinegar to turn that into sushi rice. If you don’t want to spend too much time with rice preparation, you can try our microwaveable rice: simply mix one packet of cooked rice with four tablespoons of sushi rice vinegar.
2. Begin by slicing your avocado and fish into long, thin strips. Try and keep the thickness of both ingredients to less than 2cm.
3. Grab a single sheet of nori seaweed and cut it in half before spreading cooked rice on it. Flip it over, so the rice is facing down, then place your avocado slices and fish on the nori seaweed so that all the nori is covered.
4. Now for the fun bit! Grab the front edge of the nori and begin rolling it over to create the round-shaped roll. Make sure that the avocado and fish don’t fall out the ends of the roll. Spread your tobiko fish eggs or sesame over the rice to season it, and then lay a sheet of plastic film over the sushi roll.
5. Using the sushi rolling mat, compress your roll so that it is tight and solid. Then start pushing the side of the sushi roll furthest away from you down with the mat so that it starts spreading out. Your goal is to create a teardrop shape with the sushi roll which will become one half of the heart piece.
6. Once you are happy with the completed shape, put aside the rolling mat and slice the sushi roll into 6-8 equally sized pieces. It can be easier to leave the plastic film on when slicing. Then carefully peel away the plastic and press two half heart pieces together to create one whole heart piece. Then simply present the finished sushi on a beautiful plate and then serve to the love of your life.’
Kanji Furukawa’s top tips:
– ‘Use cling film to wrap the sushi rolling mat before you roll the sushi so that the rice will not stick to the mat. This makes it much easier to handle the sticky rice.
– It is a good idea to have a bowl of water next to you when you are making maki sushi to keep your fingers wet so the rice doesn’t stick to them. It is also a good idea to keep the knife wet when you cut it to guarantee a clean cut.’
Ingredients can be purchased online at Japan Centre
Wink over whiskey with an Irish Coffee Masterclass
Add some heat to your coffee and let the experts at The Gentlemen Baristas teach you how to create the perfect Irish Coffee. Led by Antonio, their Head of Coffee – all the finest quality ingredients you’ll need will be delivered to you in a gorgeous gift box. Antonio will then give you an insight into all the tips and tricks on how to make the perfect Irish coffee with his step-by-step guide. This includes learning the best way to brew the coffee, the perfect balance of ingredients and how to infuse the cream like a pro.
150g Tophat coffee
2x Jameson Irish Whisky bottles
Bodum travel press mug
60-minute Zoom masterclass
Meanwhile, should you want to tease them with an afternoon tea, The Gentlemen Baristas also have their ‘Afternoon Tea for 2’ which features some of their most beloved cakes, coffees, slices and sandwiches made from the finest locally sourced ingredients.
The Irish coffee masterclass is £80 per person. ‘The Afternoon Tea for 2’ is available to order at £30.