Romance in the South Valley

Gift and dining ideas for Valentine’s Day

IN THE AIR Life is short. Live a little this Valentine’s Day with South Valley picks for dining and thoughtful gifts.

“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams,” wise words from Dr Seuss.

Flowers, a poetic card, a loving gift, a romantic meal—all epitomize Valentine’s Day—a day of celebrating love and romance.

If there’s one thing that says Valentine, it’s flowers. One stop shop, Johnson Garden Center at 520 Tennant Avenue in Morgan Hill offers flowers, gifts and cards. Extra fancy bouquets start as low as $18.99, which manager Ashley Hill predicts will sell out fast without an advanced order. Bouquets, Hill says, will be arriving as early as Feb. 8.

Not to worry, Hill says she will also offer live plants like cyclamen and bare root roses as an alternative to cut flowers. Valentine gift ideas for all budgets include beautiful artisan jewelry, romantic candles, hummingbird feeders, heart shaped clay pots, ladybug vases and heart ornaments.

Just nearby Morgan Hill Wine Shop and Cigar Company at 16375 Monterey Road features local and imported wines with Valentine’s Day discounts beginning on Feb. 1 including H and B Cotes De Provence Rose, TRE Guglielmo White Zinfandel and Creekview Raspberry Sparkling.

Recently approved to sell spirit liquor, general manager Amy Yancey says they are now offering distilled delights including Whistle Pig rye whiskeys, Lagavulin Single Malt Scotch and Michters Small Batch Bourbon.

For cigar aficionados, luxury brand S.T. Dupont lighters and cigar accessories make exceptional gifts.

Yancey will also offer a Valentine’s Day special of 20 percent off select wine or spirit and cigar pairing.

For those who prefer a little sparkle, hearts will melt when they receive a gift from the Jewel Box Morgan Hill at 17190 Monterey Road Suite 101 in Morgan Hill. The boutique jewelry salon offers classic designs and the latest trends for romantically-themed gifts including heart pendants, rings, earrings and pearls for the ladies and watch boxes, cufflinks, money clips, necklaces and rings designed for men.

“It’s a great feeling connecting with our customers who put their trust in us when they celebrate each memorable event in their lives,” says Jewel Box Morgan Hill owner Tracey Ulery.

Start off Valentine’s Day with a relaxing mani-pedi or a massage to melt the worries away at Lavender Day Spa and Salon at 779 First Street in Gilroy (408.842.1646).

Known for its quality manicure and pedicures, Lavender offers a full-service salon with mani-pedis, facials, massage, up-do hair styles, haircuts and spa treatments. Couples spa packages begin at $180.

Dining out on Valentine’s Day is the second busiest holiday next to Mother’s Day according to the National Restaurant Association. Chef Diane Sturla has carefully planned this year’s Sweetheart Menu at Cafe Thyme on 433 First Street in Gilroy (408.413.1250).

Known for their seasonal farm-to-table approach, this year’s dinner menu choice is herb-crusted prime rib or cioppino, Sturla’s family recipe.

“Our customers who celebrated Valentine’s Day last year with us, enjoyed their experience so much that they are making it a tradition and have booked this year’s dinner,” says Sturla.

Price for soup, salad, dinner and dessert starts at $45 without a wine pairing and $65 with wine pairing.

Wines from Kirigin, Lion Ranch, Clos La Chance, Mann Vineyards and Rapazzini Winery were selected as customer favorites during one of Cafe Thymes Wine Down Wednesday events in 2018. Finishing off the romantic meal is the pièce de résistance, a sculpted chocolate tulip dessert filled with layers of kirsch-infused chocolate cake, Amorena cherries, chocolate ganache, whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

Another South Valley restaurant, Westside Grill on 8080 Santa Teresa Blvd Suite 100 will feature a few romantic specials for Valentine’s Day, but they suggest booking reservations prior to your romantic night out.

Reminiscent of the Rat Pack days of the ’50s, Granada Theater venue exudes elegance, class and romance. Located in the historic downtown Morgan Hill on 17440 Monterey Street (408.612.8805), the Granada offers a special Valentine’s Day dinner show on Saturday, Feb. 9, 6-10pm.

Couples dressed to the nines can dance cheek to cheek to the sounds of Michael Bublé tribute artist, Scott Keo.

A romantic menu will be offered including a pear salad and arugula salad adorned with pomegranates and other delights, a choice of braised short rib or chicken piccata followed by a rich creamy chocolate pot de crème with champagne gelée and strawberry coulis for dessert. Tickets are $95 per person. Visit or call 408.612.8805.

Garlic—it’s not the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of romance, but garlic has made Gilroy famous and a year-round destination for local and international culinary enthusiasts.

A South Valley institution since 1985, The Garlic Shoppe, at 4350 Monterey Road in Gilroy offers the largest selection of Stonewall Kitchen award winning canned goods in the South Valley, a variety of hot sauces and marinades, Garlic Dude Ranch Seasonings and hard-to-find extra virgin olive oils as well as award-winning Wild Maine Blueberry Jam.

For the gourmand in your life, The Garlic Shoppe offers a 25 percent discount on make-your-own Valentine’s Day gift baskets from Feb. 11-18. Stock up on favorite garlic seasonings, Melina’s Balsoli Bread Dipper herb infused extra virgin olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar from Modena, Italy which comes in a signature hourglass-shaped bottle, a garlic braid, kitchen gadgets and a delicious bottle of Rapazzini Sparkling Wine Champagne which comes in three flavors Almond, Raspberry and Peach. Conveniently, Rapazzini Winery is next door. Rapazzini, established in 1962, offers delicious, affordable California wines bottled in small lots to maintain high standards.

Owners and brothers Chef Alex and Charlie Larson of Rapazzini Winery will be celebrating romance all week during Feb. 11-18 with a daily wine and cheese sampling. Singer, pianist and comedian Khris Francis of Hollister will be entertaining guests at the piano bar with adult humor on Feb. 16 & 17 from 1-4pm.

Rapazzini’s is offering a flight of five wines for $7. Sparkling wine champagnes and select muscat dessert wine will be discounted 25 percent, while select chardonnay and merlot wines will be offered at a 50 percent of cost.

Unsure of what to choose? Larson says he’s happy to recommend a wine to accompany any meal.

“Come on in and snuggle up to the fire and we’ll treat you with tender, loving care,” says Chef Alex.

Mary Bartholomew
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