A VALENTINE'S DAY INSPIRED SUNSET BEACH PICNIC


As much as a love trying new restaurants, Valentine’s Day is often a hard holiday for a romantic dinner. Places tend to be crowded, overpriced and dare I say, cheesy? For me Valentine's Day is about appreciating the people in your life that you love, whether that's friends, family, a lover, a furry friend and spending some quality time together. It's not about the gifts (although I have a guide for that too), but rather the message, which should always be the very clichè but oh so true, LOVE.  So this year I’m opting out of the 10 course restaurant scheme and Victoria's secret idea of Valentine's Day and keeping it classic romance. And because I live in one of the most beautiful places all year round, a pretty dinner for two was only a bike ride and Papa John's order away. But even if you live in a frozen, slush ridden city, I recommend staying in and splurging on the important details, that is, a gourmet truffle brie. Heart shaped, of course. Enjoy. 



THE FOOD/DRINK: Let's get to the important details, which for me is a cheese plate, but a romantic one. I think I made a note in my phone about eight months ago when I spotted a heart shaped brie at a cheese store in a small town in the South of France. I immediately decided it would be the centerpiece of a Valentine's/Galentine's Day spread and an uber instagrammable opportunity (and yes this is important to me). Unfortunately, I did not find a heart shaped cheese anywhere, especially a few weeks in advance of Valentine's Day, so my private chef (aka wonderful boyfriend) cut a normal round brie cheese it into a heart for me. Many of the cheese shops told me that this is in fact a common specialty item they receive closer to February 14th, so I recommend you find a nice cheese shop and give them a call first. They usually come in brie, or the neufchâtel which almost always comes in a heart shape and is somewhat similar to brie in texture. I linked one my a guide below that delivers worldwide. If you are in the Los Angeles area, some places for great cheese I recommend are The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, The Cheese Store of Silverlake, Bay Cities, Andrew's Cheese Shop, Bristol FarmsFarmshop, and you can actually order a cheese heart from The Bea's Knees in Pasadena or find this heart shaped brie in most grocery stores. Aside from the heart shaped brie, I also love a manchego with a fruity jam (particularly a pear jam), aged white cheddar, and almost all sheep milk cheeses. For every cheese plate I always include a honeycomb because it's beautiful and so delicious with almost every type of cheese. You can find a lot of them online (one linked below in my guide) but also most gourmet cheese shops will have them too and they are totally safe to eat raw! I added some beautiful organic strawberries for their color and tartness, as well as a soppressata for my boyfriend who found this amazing French pain de campagne to pair with it all at the farmers market. The key to making the cheese plate look nice is creating difference in the cuts, textures, and taste for the cheeses, adding colorful fruit or jams, and some extra garnishes like nuts and a pretty honeycomb. To drink I couldn't help picking a pretty pink sparkling rosé because it's just so on brand for Valentine's Day and I really liked the Mum Napa Brut Rosè we had. And to top it off, we just had to grab a pizza, because it's easy and who doesn't love pizza. We meant to bring homemade chocolate truffles for dessert but didn't have enough time to make them. Maybe I will share the recipe soon in another post, they are much more easy to make then you would think!



THE SETUP/THEME: Sunset is always the most romantic time of day, right? Whenever I am trying to catch the sunset I always plan to arrive about an hour and half before so I have some time to find a great spot and setup. After doing my fair share of beach photoshoots (here, here, and here) I realized the best lighting is always exactly an hour before sunset. Same goes for the hour post sunrise (like here). As for a spot on the beach, I always walk right up to the line in the sand, just above the tide indent. That way I am close enough to get a good view of the waves without risking a splash on my setup. Valentine's Day gave me a pretty good excuse to make everything pretty pink, literally. So I just went all out and owned it, a pink blanket, pink spray roses, and pink balloons (that was entertaining for passerby's to see in my face while I rode my bike and barely made it to the beach alive). I also brought a cutting board so there was a flat surface for my real crystal glasses (I highly recommend NOT bringing real glassware) and a pretty blue and white plate for my cheeses. While the cutting board was perfect, I recommend bringing a more lightweight tray that is easier to carry in a bag and will still provide the same flat surface. I linked one below in my guide. I also still use these amazing mini battery operated copper lights that I originally found for my beach birthday party and I cannot say enough good things about them. I use them inside too, especially on my bar cart during the holidays.  



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XOXO,

-MGN
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