This is not to say that we’re experts on love, or even dating. We can’t tell you if you’ve got a perfect match on your hands, or a Fatal Attraction in the making. But if you do have a special someone in your sights and that someone has agreed to spend Valentine’s Day (or some day or night in close proximity to V-Day) with you, we’ve got some ideas for how to make those minutes and hours count. We’ve tapped local music, food, gifts, drinks, theatre, outdoors events and fundraisers. Here, some suggestions:
The exotic date
Start out in Italy — at least wine-wise. Divine Wine on Tunnel Road hosts Friday tastings featuring Italian wines and hors d'oeuvres from 5-7 p.m. Then head to Southeast Asia: UrbanSpoon.com lists Mela Indian Restaurant as the "Most Romantic Asheville Restaurant" (according to reader votes). Share a thali platter. After dinner, head to the Grey Eagle for acoustic/folk/world band Songs of Water (Friday, Feb. 11). Finally, a sweet treat: Old Europe Pâtisserie (13 Broadway St.) has cozy alcoves in which to sample marzipan squares, Vienna almond linzer cookies and lemon Bavarian sponge cake.
— Alli Marshall
Cosmic hippie date
Listen to love stories written in the stars at “Romantic Links,” Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute’s special Valentine’s Day storytelling event, where romantic stories from around the world are linked with the constellations above (Friday, Feb. 11. $50 per couple for dinner and the program — RSVP by Feb. 9. $40 per couple for the storytelling event alone — RSVP by 3 p.m. on Feb. 11. Info: 862-5554 or email@example.com). While gazing at the winter sky, savor the sweet infusions that fill the French Broad Chocolate Lounge’s “cosmic love potion & aphrodisiac” truffle collection. On Sunday, stretch, breathe deeply and learn traditional, heart-expanding mudras at West Asheville Yoga’s “Tibetan Heart Yoga,” (held weekly from 5 to 6:30 p.m. $9-$14, westashevilleyoga.com). After class, give your sweetheart a massage with Faerie Made’s locally produced, all-natural shea butter and coconut-oil body lotion (faeriemadesoaps.com).
— Aiyanna Sezak-Blatt
The date with heart
Reenact Dylan and Brenda's '90s-era Beverly Hills 90210 date by donating blood. The Red Cross holds a blood drive the Renaissance Asheville Hotel (31 Woodfin St.) on Thursday, Feb. 10, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Or put a 2011 spin on that 90210 date: On Saturday, Feb. 12, Laurey’s Catering (67 Biltmore Ave.) holds a bone-marrow registry drive. Potential donors, ages 18-60, are signed up for potential future need. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. with music and snacks all day.
Looking for something less visceral? The SweetheART Show, featuring work from seven Haywood County artist couples, is on display at the Haywood County Arts Council through Saturday, Feb. 26. If you're celebrating later in the week, consider the Moulin Rouge-themed fundraising event for Caring for Children on Saturday, Feb. 12. Bollywood dancers, jazz singer Kat Williams, cuisine from local restaurants and plenty of bubbly. $75.
The single date
Start your special evening by releasing some holiday frustration with fellow misfits of love at the Anti-Valentine’s Day Pillow Fight Flashmob (Monday, Feb. 14 at the Vance Monument, 5:30-6 p.m.), which promises "feathers choking the air as far as the eye can see!" All that thrashing about is sure to work up an appetite, so head west for the ultimate single-serving dinner, a slice of ‘za beneath the fake chandeliers of Standard Pizza Company (631 Haywood Road).
From there, try your hand at romance with Valentine’s Day Speed Dating at Hole-N-Da-Wall, 44 Market St., 8 p.m. If that doesn’t pan out, quench your thirst at Arcade Asheville (130 College St.), one of the only local bars where you can have a drink alone without staring at the wall in silence or pretending to watch TV (they have games!). And if all this wasn't enough to distract you from your single-hood, check out the endlessly entertaining "A Night of Psycho Cabaret" with Hellblinki at The Boiler Room (11 Grove St.) on Saturday, Feb. 12.
— Dane Smith
My funny Valentine
For a belated date, head to 35below (35 E. Walnut St.) on Thursday, Feb. 24, 7:30 p.m. for Love in the Time of Caller ID: Disastrous Dating Stories. The show is the next installment in the Listen to This: Stories in Performance, hosted by local comedian Tom Chalmers. Tickets are $10.
Can’t postpone V-Day? Local indie-folk-pop trio Now You See Them shares The LAB’s backstage (39 N. Lexington Ave.) with Boston’s David Wax Museum on Monday, Feb. 14, 10 p.m. Neither band is comedic per se, but both have an undeniable sense of fun and whimsy. Commit your romantic thoughts to ink on a Valentine’s-themed card from local artist Robin Plemmons. Options on her Etsy shop (etsy.com/shop/lemonswithapea) include “You’re my favorite mofo” and “I love you with all of my butt. I would say heart but my butt is bigger.”
In a long-distance relationship? Or does the thought of actually seeing your date in person just strike you as so last century? Start this post-postmodern date off with a solo trip to Charlotte Street Computers (252 Charlotte St. or 300 Airport Rd.) or CityMac (755 Biltmore Ave.). Both stores have a wide variety of computers, iPods and iPads that will help you get digitally intimate with your sweetie — Charlotte Street Computers even hosts a “Boys night out iPad Social” on Thursday, Feb. 10, 6-7 p.m. to “Trade tips and tricks with our staff and other iPad users at our inaugural Boy's Night Out event. Pizza and beer will be provided by our friends at Asheville Pizza & Brewing Company.” Or better yet: Pick up a new iPhone 4 at a local Verizon outlet (242 Tunnel Road or 225 Airport Road). The carrier, which has the best signal strength in the area, starts selling the innovative wireless device on Feb. 10, ending AT&T's exclusive reign.
Now you're ready for a night of iRomance: Head home, pour yourself a glass malt liquor, turn on SportsCenter and shoot your honey an e-card from Someecards (someecards.com). The outlet features a wide variety of pre-written love notes to help you express your special feelings, such as "I can't believe I'm not sick of you" and "I wish I loved anything as much as Charlie Sheen loves cocaine and hookers." Follow up with a romantic evening of G-chatting, Twitter Direct Messaging and Facebook stalking. Once the moment feels right, try initiating iIntimacy by copying and pasting lustful lines from Deep Underground, a web forum showcasing "the harder side of poetry." (deepundergroundpoetry.com/erotic-poems).
— Jake Frankel
The love your community date
Start the day with a "Sweetheart" pancake breakfast at Fatz Café (5 Spartan Ave.). The all-you-can eat affair includes pancakes (naturally), bacon, sausage, fresh fruit and beverages for $7, and benefits Hominy Valley Crisis Ministry. Saturday, Feb. 12, 8-10 a.m.
Feeling really romantic? Join other couples at the Grove Arcade at 4 p.m. on Saturday to renew your vows. Says the Grove Arcade, "Darr Conradson will lead the devoted crowd in a group ceremony. With its heart tracery and historic ambiance, the Arcade is a wonderful spot to declare your love once more — and publicly. The happy couples will share a free champagne toast (must be 21 years of age)."
Round out the evening (also Saturday) at Pack Place where the YMI Cultural Center's 2011 Goombay committee sponsors "An Evening in Red," a community-wide Valentine's Day celebration on Saturday, Feb. 12, 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Come in "after-five attire." ($25 in advance/$35 at the door, goombayasheville.com.)
The romantic music date
Make it a full weekend of romantic sounds. Asheville Symphony Orchestra performs "Valentine Delights with Romeo and Juliet" at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium on Saturday, Feb. 12, 8 p.m. ashevillesymphony.org. Then, on Sunday, Feb. 13, the Asheville Arts Center (308 Merrimon Ave.) holds an English country dance where you and your sweetie can cut a rug as couples did in Jane Austen's day. 3-5 p.m., $6, oldfarmersball.com. Finally, on Valentine's Day (Monday, Feb. 14) it's "A Night of Timeless Dance & Romance" with The Kat Williams Experience performing swing, jazz and MoTown at The Grove House (11 Grove St.) on Monday, Feb. 14. Doors open 8 p.m. with a champagne reception and heavy hors d'oeuvres. A dance immediately follows Williams' performance. $12 singles/$20 couples. thegrovehouse.com.
Valentine's Day with a kid
Make a Valentine Card at Hendersonville-based children's gallery Hands On. The crafty activity runs all day (10 a.m.-5 p.m.) through Saturday, Feb. 12. Supplies are provided — $5 admission.
Here's something any kid would like to give (or receive): A puppy-gram! Brother Wolf Animal Rescue Fundraiser holds this fundraiser through Sunday, Feb. 13. For a $40 donation, a "cute-as-can-be Brother Wolf rescue dog or puppy will stop by for a visit at your honey’s home or workplace on Monday, Feb. 14, bearing a flower and personalized card, balloon and sweet treat." All proceeds benefit the shelter's mission. Info: firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-2954.
And, in honor of the holiday at hand, it's Queen of Hearts Day at the Health Adventure in Pack Place on Saturday, Feb. 12, from noon to 2 p.m. Activities include creating and painting roses, making playing-card holders and learning fun card games (thehealthadventure.org.).