Hone your cooking skills
Start your day at CulinAerie, a cooking school in DC’s Thomas Circle, with the three-hour Breakfast in Bed class. In a hands-on session, instructor Amy Riolo will teach participants how to make Italian hot chocolate, a Swiss potato rosti with scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, and creme fraiche, cranberry-and-orange scones, and rose-and-mint-infused fruit salad. 9:30 to 12:30; $85 per person.
Visit one of DC’s oldest farmers markets
Built in 1873, Eastern Market is a farmers market and gourmet-foods shop all in one. Farmers line up outside with fresh produce, and inside the warehouse-style South Hall, you’ll find vendors selling local meats, artisanal cheeses, and mid-Atlantic seafood. Get in line at Market Lunch, a sit-down diner at one end of the building, to try an authentic crab cake or, in the morning, a stack of blueback pancakes.
Tour Julia Child’s kitchen
In 2001, culinary legend Julia Child donated her entire kitchen to the National Museum of American History. The recently renovated museum recreated her favorite room exactly as it was in her Cambridge, Massachusetts, home, complete with her mismatched kitchen-table chairs, knife sets, and refrigerator magnets. On display is her collection of obscure gadgets, many of them purchased at flea markets and yard sales. A TV cycles through episodes of her cooking show with Jacques Pepin.
Check out some food-related art
If you’re usually more interested in a museum’s cafe than its exhibits, these paintings and sculptures might make you just as hungry. There’s Renoir’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party” at the Phillips Collection, Ori Gersht’s “Pomegranate,” part of the Hirshorn’s temporary Black Box exhibit, and Robert Frank’s black-and-white photographs of strawberries in a retrospective of his work at the National Gallery of Art.
Educate your wine palate
You can sip hundreds of wines at the annual Washington DC International Wine & Food Festival, held for two days at the Ronald Reagan Building. In addition to wine tastings, chefs and gourmet-food vendors will be on hand to hand out samples of their goods and educate foodies. This year’s exhibitors include representatives from foreign embassies, an artisan olive oil producer, and Wine Enthusiast magazine. Saturday, February 14, and Sunday, February 15; 2 to 6 PM; Grand Cru Wine Lounge $125 before February 6, $150 at the door; Grand Tasting $85 before February 6, $95 at the door.
Two straws, one glass
If you’re gonna do something that’s just a tad sappy, sharing a milkshake is a lot easier than trying slurp spaghetti from the same plate. We love the hand-spun shakes at Good Stuff Eatery on DC’s Capitol Hill, run by former Top Chef contestant Spike Mendelsohn. The toasted marshmallow ($5.25), extra creamy from a dollop of Greek yogurt, gets our vote, but if you want a real classic, try the black-and-white ($4.75).
Ingest an aphrodisiac—it’s required!
Lots of restaurants are already booked solid for February 14, but you can still sit at the bar for a plate of raw oysters, a fabled aphrodisiac. We suggest Oceanaire Seafood Room, where there’s always a diverse selection from all over the US (market price), trendy Central Michel Richard (half-dozen $16, dozen $32), or Hank’s Oyster Bar, where you can get the briny mollusks raw (market price), fried ($11), in a sake shooter ($3), barbecued ($13), in a po’ boy with cole slaw ($15), or as a full fried dinner ($18).
Get a drink—a sexy one
The Gibson, a new U Street-corridor bar, has the look of a speakeasy and the feel of an exclusive club. Craft cocktails are at their peak here, made by well-known DC bartenders such as Derek Brown. As of now, reservations are all booked up, but a handful of stools are available on a first-come first-served basis. If you can score a seat—and find the unlabeled front door—put yourself in the hands of the mixologists who are cooking up a special Valentine’s Day list of drinks.
→ Budget Gift Guide: Under $20
→ Girls-Only Valentine's Day
→ Gift Guide for Her
→ Gift Guide for Him
→ Gifts to Warm Your Home
→ Valentine’s Day: Beyond Red Roses
→ Valentine’s Day Date Ideas for Art Lovers
→ Beyond Chocolates and Roses: Ten Quirky Things to Do on Valentine’s Day
→ Heart-to-Heart Getaways: Valentine’s Day Hotel Packages
→ Valentine's Romance at Home
→ Girls-Only Valentine's Day