Top 5 pre-Valentine's classes for the perfect DIY meal

A natural aphrodisiac?
A natural aphrodisiac?

There's less than three weeks until Valentine's Day and if you've taken even a cursory stroll through, you'll find pickings are getting slim if your go-to plan is a dinner date. Luckily that 21-day buffer leaves plenty of time for you to plan a DIY dinner -- maybe you can steal the tired sitcom idea of having your friend pose as a waiter? - with help from one of these classes.

1. Italian at Heart: Romance Through Food Valentine's Day falls on a Monday this year, potentially the least romantic day of the week. But the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum won't let that be an excuse for you to serve a TV dinner to your mate. Chef Antonio Ceccone guides students through the heart of Italy with a mouth watering cooking class. Participants will learn to make a spicy shrimp appetizer, fettuccine al porcini e gorgonzola, sautéed spinach and fennel salad, pork tenderloin with prosciutto sage sauce, seasoned crusty rolls, and profiteroles puffs with double chocolate amaretto sauce. If pants aren't coming off mid-meal from sheer gorging, they will later as a way to repay you for your luscious Italian efforts. Thursday, February 10, 6:30-8:30 p.m. $55. 952-443-1422 or to sign up.

2. Libations and Sweet Treats Wine pairing is something few people do well, especially when it comes to matching the perfect bottle with dessert. Chef Kevin Ryan of Cooks of Crocus Hill gives novices a primer on finding the right drink to make a great dessert even sweeter. Attendees will taste dark chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel paired with Sam Adams Chocolate Bock; cinnamon peach cobber with Raspail Clairette de Die; Coconut basil macaroons with Nigori sake; and French apple tart with Quarts de Chaumes. Use the knowledge you gain from Ryan as a weapon of love come Valentine's Day. Saturday, February 12, 1-4 p.m. $70. 651-228-1333 or

3. Valentine's Day Chocolates; Cake Decorating for Valentine's Day; Chocolate Loves Raspberries Valentine's Edition Minneapolis Community Ed is a hotbed for Valentine's cooking classes, mainly of the sweet variety, and at bargain basement prices. Learn to pair chocolate and raspberries in a number of dessert recipes at Chocolate Loves Raspberries; create an Ace of Cakes-worthy dessert for your sweetheart, fondant and all, at Cake Decorating for Valentine's Day; and make homemade sweets like chocolate candies and truffles at Valentine's Day Chocolates. All skills that will potentially help you score well beyond February 14! Various dates/times for classes. Visit for dates, times and fees.

4. Valentine's Couples Dinner Share the load (and none of the dishes) at Kitchen Window's unique class that lets couples create their dinner together, and then dine on the spot at a romantic table for two. Chef Brian Storey guides students through a blue cheese and apple gougeres, a Spanish seafood salad, beef filet with poached lobster and asparagus, and finally a chocolate mousse layered with strawberries. Meow! An accompanying wine flight is also available to cap it off. Friday, February 11, 6-10 p.m. $180 per couple. 612-824-4417 or

5. The Art of Tasting Chocolate Did you know there's an art to tasting chocolate, and it doesn't involve gorging? Attend Andrea Pesses' class at the Linden Hills Co-op and learn to appreciate the distinctive personalities of the world's chocolates. Students will also learn how to make truffles from a local chocolatier and discuss the mysterious process of tempering chocolate - all so you can transfer those skills to a night of chocolate lovin' on Valentine's Day. Thursday, February 3, 8 p.m. $30, $28 members. 612-922-1159 or

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