Think Outside the Box of Chocolates

Think Outside the Box of Chocolates

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With Valentine’s Day only a few days away, many people are scrambling to figure out what the heck they should do on the special red-letter day.

But this year, instead of going with the traditional (and boring!) route of dinner reservations, flowers and gifts, check out these unexpected and fun options that’ll make this year’s Valentine’s Day go down in the memory-making record books.

And don’t worry, whether you’re single and ready to mingle, or the other half of a couple, we’ve complied events for everyone in the mood to celebrate.

Rock of Love
To some people, love and some good ole’ rock music go hand-in-hand. Check out these local and national acts with your significant other:

  • The Bravery at The 20th Century Theatre in Oakley. Feb.14 at 8p.m. (Editor’s note: I’ll be there rockin’ out! Happy Valentine’s Day to me!Laughing)
  • Flogging Molly at Madison Theater in Covington. Feb. 14 at 7p.m.
  • Valentine’s Day Ball at The Southgate House in Newport, with Kristen Key, Chakras, Screaming Kings, Lithium, Trojan Rabbit, Buckra and Sound & Shape. Feb 15. at 9p.m.
  • Valentines Day Celebration at Taft Theatre with Lakeside, Confunkshun and S.O.S. Band. Feb. 14 at 7p.m.

All Night Long
If you and your significant other are the type of people who love dancing the night away and love being seen at the hottest scene, then check out what these local clubs have to offer:

  • Cincinnati gets a taste of some “celebrity” pizzazz when wild boy Steve-O hosts Love Hangover at Bang Nightclub downtown on Feb. 15. Be forewarned! Steve-O is notorious for getting crazy when he’s out!
  • Havana Martini Club will host a Global Fusion Night: Brazil. Get your dance moves on with their “Brazilian Carnival” festivities courtesy of Midwest Latino.
  • It’s a red-letter day for Sully’s as well, as it celebrates its 1st birthday this Valentine’s Day. To commemorate their special day, they have a “Girls in Pink, Guys in Red” event with cash prizes for the “Most Stylish.”


Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!

Who said you need a man to enjoy a fun night out on the most love-laden day of the year? Grab a bunch of your closest girlfriends and get ready to paint the town red at one of these “girly” events:

  • Latitudes Cafe in Anderson and Cincy Chic will host a Love Your Style, Love Yourself Fashion Show on Feb. 13, starting at 6p.m. Enjoy glam looks featured in a spring fashion show, with wardrobe tips from local fashion industry experts and $5 gift cards to Latitudes for the first 25 people!
  • February is not only about celebrating the love of your life on one special day, but is also the official month that’s dedicated to loving yourself…especially your heart. And that’s why The Marble Hill Chocolatier’s Girl’s Red Sweet Heart Tasting is the perfect marriage of a fun, sweet and heart-conscious girls night out. Now this is how you win a girl’s heart…with chocolate and wine! (Editor’s note: Check out last week’s Heart Smarts issue on why heart health is a woman’s best friend.)
  • Looking for some old school romance on the big screen? Springdale 18: Cinema de Lux offers Hearthrob Thursdays for the girls (and guys) who have a soft spot for a classic chick flick. Make sure to hit the concessions stand before you and your gals revisit either the 1932 classic “A Farewell to Arms” with Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes or the 80s hit “When Harry Met Sally” with Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. Sure beats renting from Blockbuster and staying in!
  • For the more adventurous and open-minded gals, make sure you check out the Pure Romance Annual Valentine’s Day Warehouse Sale, Feb. 7-14, from 10am-8pm. Typically, Pure Romance parties have a “girls only” policy, but their warehouse sale is open to both men and women, over 18. Make sure you say hi to Cincy Chic’s resident Pure Romance diva Tisa Powell who will be on hand, on Feb. 14 from 2-6p.m. to answer any questions you might have about the umm…merchandise or if you and your girlfriends are interested in booking a private party of your own. Definitely a risqué V-day!


Love Shack

If you will be spending this mushy holiday with a significant other, then check out these hotels offering specials for lovebirds to reconnect, away from home:

  • The Hyatt Regency Cincinnati’s Amour Romance Package includes champagne, chocolate-covered fruit, a breakfast buffet for the morning after and even a late checkout at 2p.m.
  • Want to get away from the trappings of suburban and city life? Then head 30 minutes south of Cincinnati to the animal-friendly First Farm Inn in Idlewild, KY, for their Rocky Romantic Relaxation Package. Enjoy a weekend night stay for two that includes in-room hot-stone massages, chocolates and a soak in the hot tub under the stars. You’ll feel miles away, but so close to the one you love.
  • The Cincinnati Marriott RiverCenter’s Bed of Roses Package is sure to remind you of a scene out of the movies “Bed of Roses” or “American Beauty”. A rose petal turndown service, champagne and waterfront views will surely get you in the mood.
  • The Drawbridge Inn’s Royal Package includes club-level accommodations, scented candle, a box of Asher chocolates, an Ocean Breeze bath set, champagne, dinner and breakfast for two. There’s even a nightclub on the premises to dance the night away.
  • Christopher’s Bed and Breakfast in Bellevue, KY, even has a “Director of Romance” ready to customize a romantic getaway for two that could include flowers, gift baskets, in-room his and hers hour massages. It’s all left up to your creative imagination!
  • And last but not least, the Wildwood Inn Tropical Dome and Theme Suites located in Florence, has been the go-to destination for couples seeking a unique “hotel” experience. Heat things up this Valentine’s by choosing from 122 different themed suites such as the popular Cupid and Champagne rooms, or cool things down in the Artic Cave, which looks like the inside of a glacier.

Army of One
If you’re like me, and find yourself in the “party for one, please” category, but refuse to wallow in tears and chocolate all by yourself at home, then get all dolled up and head out the door to hopefully meet someone interesting at these “singularly-focused” events:

  • Head down to the Lodge Bar for their Single and Ready to Mingle extravaganza. The first 100 girls through the door will receive a rose and a gift bag! And while you’re there, say howdy once again to Tisa Powell. She’s bringing the main course, dessert and her vivacious personality!
  • Have a personal vendetta against that chubby lil’ cupid who didn’t deliver your Valentine this year? Well, get your revenge at Million’s Cafe in Mt. Lookout Square at their “Dear Cupid…You Stink!!!” V-Day event.
  • CincyUpdate’s Jilted Lover’s Happy Hour offers a $5 cover, drinks specials, sponsor giveaways and a chance to tell cupid where he can put his arrow. Proceeds benefit CincyUpdate, the free community calendar.
  • Want to go out and have a romantic dinner, but don’t have a dinner date? No worries! Head to the Love Stinks…A Singles Dining Event presented by Chalk Food + Wine (formerly Pho Paris) in Covington. This special event caters to the single men and women of the area, and features a five-course tasting menu with course-specific wine pairings and even communal seating.
  • Have a lot of photos of your ex that you need to get rid of? Well head to Bar Louie’s Screw Cupid Bash, and shred them at their “ex-shredder,” while downing $3 chocolate martinis and $1 orgasm shots!

From the Heart
If you want to share the love this V-Day and support a great cause, then make sure you mark your calendar for these socially-conscious events:

  • Local celebrity chef phenomenon, Jean-Robert Pigall and leading pastry chef Shannon Butler from the BonBonerie, will lend their culinary talents for the From the Heart Fundraiser benefiting the Bake-A-Wish organization. Enjoy delicious cooking demonstrations, brunch and a raffle.
  • The Young Professionals Group of Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Cincinnati (IHN) will host a fundraiser at Kona Bistro to benefit its shelter and homelessness programs. All bar tips, raffle proceeds and a portion of server tips will go directly to IHN.
  • Cincinnati FunRaisers claims to be one of the city’s most successful charitable singles organizations and to celebrate V-Day they are hosting a Singles Valentine Party and Dance at the Drawbridge Inn in Ft. Mitchell. All proceeds will go to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
  • Women always say that they love a man with a sense of humor. Well, now you get a chance to see a funny man and help out a great cause. Local comedian Josh Sneed will be performing at Go Bananas as part of the Habitat for Humanity Benefit on Feb. 13. Proceeds will go to Tristate Habitat for Humanity.
  • Celebrate a masked Valentine at The Annual Gala 216 Masquerade Party at The Madison South in Covington. The 216 Foundation’s third annual gala benefits finding a cure for diabetes and includes a night of masked fun, elegant dining, wine tasting and a silent auction.
  • Miracles for Life a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness and funds to promote organ transplantation, is hosting its first annual Living the Gift Gala at Paul Brown Stadium on Feb. 14.
  • If you have a soft spot for furry little ones, then show some love by attending the Canines & Cupids Fundraiser on Feb. 15. Proceeds benefit Camp Bow Wow and features a doggy fashion show, refreshments, games, a kissing booth and much more.
  • The Starry Starry Night Benefit Concert features a performance by Broadway singer/actress Pamela Myers. Proceeds will go to the Ursuline Academy Performing Arts Department.
  • Check out Single As I Want to Be at Bang Nightclub while supporting the American Heart Association. Jeff and Jenn from Q102 will be the evening’s hosts. Guys can enter the eligible bachelor contest by submitting a photo to Ladies should wear their sexiest “little red dress.”
  • Share the love over a stack o’ free pancakes! Ihop’s National Pancake Celebration Day is Feb. 12, and the chain will be serving short stacks of free pancakes if guests make a donation to Chirldren’s Miracle Network or other local charities. Now that’s worth putting on the calories!

Love Bites
Looking for unique dining options for you and your special someone? These events offer a different twist from your regular dinner reservations of V-Days past:

  • What’s better than a floating view of the river, a great dinner and your sweetie? Consider the BB Riverboat’s Valentine’s Day Dinner Cruise this V-Day. Cruise includes dinner buffet and live music and after you’ve had dinner, steal a kiss under the stars, on the boat’s top deck.
  • Like the idea of you and your sweetie cooking up your own romantic dinner for two, rather than having someone else do it? Under the professional guidance of chefs at The Cooks’ Wares in Harper’s Point, couples can create a feast of love in the A Valentine Dinner for Two cooking class.
  • Couples can also make a romantic dinner for two with David Cook of Daveed’s in the Cooking for Couples class. These kitchens will definitely be smokin’!
  • Check out Valentine’s Day at the Box for dinner and laughs at the Shadowbox’s “Crazy Sexy Cool” sketch comedy. Ticket includes preferred seating, banquet and roses for the ladies.
  • When you go to the Say Be Mine with Henke Wine Valentine’s Day dinner at the Henke Winery in Harrison, you not only get a romantic, four-course dinner for two and a bottle of their great wine, but you can also call ahead (by Monday, Feb. 11) and get a bottle of wine specially customized with a picture of you and your sweetie on the bottle’s label! It’s a fantastic way to commemorate your special night!
  • Not your typical museum field trip, the Cincinnati Art Museum’s Valentine Dinner and Tour includes a four-course dinner, bottle of wine, guided art tour, music, jewelry trunk show and commemorative photo.
  • A Chocolate Escape is a progressive dinner, with a twist. Instead of starting out with appetizers, in a typical progressive dinner format, you start out with dessert at the Marble Hill Chocolatier located in O’Bryonville! Then head a few doors down to The Art of Entertaining, for a dinner menu infused with chocolate. Definitely a tasty and unique delight for the senses!
  • When you think of dining out on Valentine’s Day, fast food doesn’t automatically come to mind, but two local chains are hoping you choose them for your dining options: There’s nothing more romantic than roses, tuxedos and…chili?! That’s what the folks over at Skiline Chili believe, so this year treat your significant other to the Blue Ash location’s Sixth Annual Valentine’s Day Dinner. The three-course meal includes a salad, main course and cake by candlelight and mood-setting violin playing! Reservations required. White Castle’s annual Valentine’s Day dinner makes a return with candlelight dining, flowers, tableside service and a special menu at all Cincinnati locations. Reservations required.
  • If you want to end your night on a sweet note with your sweetie, head to Marble Hill’s Sweet Valentine’s Lounge. Sample chocolates, drink hot chocolate or have the selected dessert in a romantic setting of candlelight and music.

The Art of Love
Check out these love-themed offerings from the local art scene:

  • Could there be a more quintessential love story than Romeo and Juliet? The Cincinnati Ballet’s production introduces a whole new dimension to Shakespeare’s romantic classic through the expression of dance.
  • If your significant other is into baubles and bling, but you can’t really afford to slip some on their finger, then head to the Cincinnati Art Museum’s Designed to Dazzle for the next best thing. The exhibit features a stunning array of about 20 pieces designed by America’s most important jewelry house, Tiffany & Co., and includes a unique 1900 diamond and pearl necklace that was thought to be lost but later found in a private Cincinnati collection. The exhibit also coincides with Tiffany & Co.’s 10th anniversary in Cincinnati. Also make sure you check out the Art Museum’s, Stupid Cupid: Cupids in Art special exhibition.
  • At the “Romance and Cigarettes” screening, you’ll experience John Turturro’s frenetic, outrageous, erotic musical about love, sex, fidelity and death, with an A-list cast of celebrities as sidekicks. Presented by Cincinnati World Cinema at the Art Museum.
  • If you loved movies such as “Closer” and ”Match Point,“ then you’ll love The Know Theatre of Cincinnati’s 2X2: Red Light Winter, a tale of love, sexual obsession and drugs in Amsterdam, when two college friends lives’ are irreversibly altered through the love of a troubled young woman. Also check out the Know’s Valentine’s Day Concert, a fresh and dynamic chamber music ensemble that blends together the traditional and contemporary with an inspired visual twist to explore a modern, kinetic and powerful new concert experience in Cincinnati.
  • In The Blonde, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead, passion takes on a whole different meaning. Check out this award-winning and runaway hit at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.
  • You never forget your first love and that’s the theme in The Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati’s production of Mary’s Wedding. See how this sweeping and wonderfully poignant drama explores the beauty of innocent love and the call of duty set against the backdrop of World War I. Tickets to the 7:30 p.m. show include a special champagne and chocolate reception at 7:00 p.m., chocolate courtesy of Park + Vine. You’ll also be eligible to win 2008-2009 ETC season tickets and a $75 gift certificate to McCormick & Schmicks!
  • If you and your sweetie are nature buffs concerned with the fate of our planet, then you’ll definitely want to check out Tropical Rainforest playing at the Omnimax Theater at the Cincinnati Museum Center.
  • Also showing at the Museum Center is the talk-of-the-town and controversial Bodies…The Exhibition. The meticulously dissected and preserved bodies just might give you a better appreciation for your sweetheart’s body! Make sure you also catch the Bodies’ companion film, The Human Body playing at the Omnimax to complete this ultimate anatomy lesson.
  • If you lovebirds are into psychedelic light shows, then head to the Drake Planetarium’s Laser Magic Show. his series features laser shows set to the music of Pink Floyd, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and others as well as the highly-acclaimed “Legends of the Night Sky, an animated full dome laser presentation.
  • Cincinnati Black Theater Company’s REVENGE OF A KING! REVENGE OF A KING is a hip-hop multicultural musical featuring original music, freestyle rhymes, an MC battle, graffiti, dance and a live DJ. Definitely not your mother’s Shakespeare! Showing at the Carnegie Visual/Performing Arts Center.
  • Have a hankerin’ for some great medieval French love songs?! Then head to The Northside Tavern to hear The Noyse Merchants’ show at 7:30p.m. on Feb. 14.

Grab Bag
Here are some events that just sounded too good to not include in our guide:

  • Waugh Murder Mystery Valentines Day Dinner at the West Chester-based Wine C.A.R.T. Billy Waugh has been murdered! A cast of characters will determine who amongst you has killed winemaker, Billy Waugh. Wine and food pairing will accompany this fascinating love triangle of wine, women and deceit!
  • “Love Me Tender, Love Me Sweet.” Elvis would be so touched! The A Valentine Night in Vegas with Mike Davis: Elvis & Friends Tribute Show pays homage to music idols such as Elvis, Tom Jones, Neil Diamond and other Vegas greats. Proceeds benefits Middfest 2008.
  • There isn’t much of Old Man Winter left, so if you like the cold, but more importantly, snuggling up with your special person, then check out the 2-for-1 Date Skate at Fountain Square. Regular admission and skate rental is $2 per person, but couples get 2-for-1 admission and rental all day on Feb. 14. There’s even hot chocolate (or something stronger!) for your drinking enjoyment.
  • Go ahead and fire things up with Funke Fired Arts’ Open Studio Nights. Recreate a scene from the movie “Ghost” at this pottery class that includes wine and even a potluck that has a lasagna that’s cooked up right in the kiln!
  • If monster truck racing and hardcore destruction revs your engine, then grab your trucker hat and your lil darlin’ and head down to the Monster Jam at U.S. Bank Arena. YEHAW!

Photo: Neysa Ruhl Photography
Location: Fischer Homes
Model: Joann Howard
Makeup Artistry: Jocelyn Sparks, Zoë Custom Cosmetics