Valentine's Day

An Epicurean Valentine

Epicure Digital Marketing Shows London How to 'Romance'

Happy Valentine’s Day! One of those happy days in the marketing calendar where content seems to write itself – or does it? Here at Epicure we’ve written before on the pitfalls of relying on clichés to make you restaurant attractive at peak holiday times, so this year, we’re going to share some examples of how our clients could help you celebrate this day of Love – or help you make any day of the year romantic.

1) Make the perfect French chocolate tarte, courtesy of Bel Canto Head Chef Gilles Martin.

Hazelnut Short-crust pastry to make 1 x 220mm tart

Ingredients

  • 95g flour
  • 70g melted butter
  • 35g icing sugar
  • 35g finely powdered hazelnuts
  • 1tsp salt
  • 30g egg yolks
  • 3g baking powder

Method

  • Mix the flour, icing sugar, hazelnut powder, salt, and baking powder (the dry ingredients) in a bowl.
  • Add the melted butter and the egg yolks and mix with a hand whisk or mixer.
  • Transfer the mixture to a 220mm cake tin and smooth the mixture with a spoon, making sure to get it evenly distributed. The layer should be about 3mm thick.
  • Pop in the oven and bake at 180◦c for 10 minutes.
  • Take out and leave in the fridge to cool and set.

Chocolate ganache

Ingredients

  • 70g whipping cream
  • 12g butter
  • 17g honey
  • 90g of 66% dark chocolate, broken into small pieces

Method

  • Warm the cream and the honey in a pan.
  • Pour this over the chocolate and the butter.
  • Mix it all together gently with a spatula until the chocolate and the butter melt.
  • Pour this mixture over the fully-cooled base and pop back in the fridge to set

Voila!

2) Treat your loved one to a romantic cooking class with InspiringChefs.

If you want to do something special and romantic, but don’t feel like leaving the house – InspiringChefs might be perfect for you! Plan a cooking date at your house and have the chef come to YOU to teach you and your loved one some of their favourite recipes.

3) Toast your Valentine with a glass of Sustainable fizz.

Preferably a glass of Limney Estate Brut from the Davenport vineyard in East Sussex. This premium sparkling wine is made from a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier and won silver in the 2016 Decanter Awards. And, for a day like today, surely only an award-winner will do?

4) Try a Valentine's Day dinner off the menu at Chriskitch.

Everyone likes a nice surprise, and nice surprises abound at Chriskitch thanks to their collaboration with client EatOfftheMenu. Chef and Owner Chris Honor’s secret dish of choice is slowly braised beef with fresh pasta, a dish connected to his childhood memories and early passion for food “My secret dish embodies this passion – a simple combination of ingredients. It needs a true craftsman to bring out the best flavour. It's a complicated combination of cookery techniques and methods and flavours, presented in a very easy fashion.” You can enjoy the dish on its own or as part of a lovely set menu. Find out more here.

5) Say “I Love You” with a bespoke pizza.

Pizza chain Basilico’s customise feature means you can create virtually any pizza you like for the one you love. Are they a meat lover? Cover their pizza with every salumi on the menu! Chilli fan? Choose from chilli flakes, spicy chilli sausage, and even fresh chillies! Vegetarian? Vegan? Gluten-Free? There is something for everyone. Head over to their blog for some combination inspiration.

6) Book a romantic staycation in a Suite full of Eastern promise.

The Mayflower Collection’s trio of hotels offer a number of beautifully-decorated Suites, each of which give you a taste of East-Meets-West. Try the teal-tinged opulence of the Ottoman Suite at Twenty Nevern Square, the clean white lines of the Mayflower’s Luxury four-poster suite, or the dramatic black-and-gold scheme of the New Linden’s Honeymoon Suite.

7) Say Cheers to healthy relationships with Zayane’s low-sugar cocktails.

The hardest part of being in a relationship can often be avoiding bad habits. We don’t know about you, but at Epicure, all of our perfect dates involve eating. Cosy nights in with takeaway, lavish eight-course tasting menus, a great brunch – not necessarily conducive to a trim waistline. Thankfully, our newest client, Zayane, have just introduced a fabulous range of low-sugar cocktails – and they taste so good, you won’t even realise.

Our favourites are:

The Zayane

Iced Green Tea scented with Jasmine & Mint, Orange Blossom and Sparkling White Wine

Ginger Elixir

Gin, Ginger, Lemon juice and Honey

No. 5

Vodka, Celery, Cucumber, Lettuce, Lemon, Ginger, Apple juice

Passionified Roses - Are You Full or Empty this Valentine’s Day?

What is the key to being fully booked this Valentine’s Day?

Better yet, how can a restaurant fully leverage this holiday all February? It’s all about the roses, but perhaps not in the way you are thinking.

I’m not suggesting that you put all other plans on hold and ring a super-quality florist to make sure that each couple is given only the most luscious of roses upon arrival –though that certainly would not hurt! What I am actually referring to is the example of ‘passionified roses’ given to us by 20th-Century French philosopher Roland Barthes.

Valentine's Day Roses

Independent of its associations with love and Valentine’s Day, roses have another, more basic meaning. They are just flowers – thorny, crimson, and generally considered to be beautiful. They have existed since the dinosaurs and therefore concepts passion and love have zero inherent associations with them.

In Western culture we choose to signify our passion (the signified) to our lover with roses (the signifier). When roses are combined with passion – that is the signifier and signified respectively, they produce what we know as Valentine’s Day roses, which are an undisputed sign of one’s passion and love for another.

What is demonstrated above is that the term rose can exist with two rather different meanings. Rose the signifier, or a rose that is a flower of a certain genus that has nothing inherent about it to do with Valentine’s Day. And rose the sign that so utterly means love, passion and Valentine’s Day that it is almost a cliché to give a dozen of them as a gift to one’s partner on special occasions.

Valentine's Day Roses

Restaurateur, if you are serious about filling up your restaurant with customers this Valentine’s Day consider how this is deeply relevant to you and your marketing.

Objects and words can be entirely empty of meaning (the signifier) or can be entirely full (the sign).  Your job – or your marketer’s – is to communicate why people should choose your restaurant over the other ten thousand plus ones that exist in London… To have any hope of doing so effectively, your Valentine’s Day marketing message must be full to the brim!

For a successful and lucrative Valentine’s Day, it will take more than a half-hearted email marketing template that makes use of the colour pink, hearts and – of course – roses. It will take more than a rushed Valentine’s Day menu that is treated as an afterthought that may or may not include a glass of cheap ‘bubbly’. By doing this you will be falling in the trap of proposing a random collage of empty signifiers to your customers.

Valentine's Day Roses

Empty signifiers – though technically meaningless – in the context of Valentine’s Day marketing are actually rather meaningful. They broadly flag to your customers that your restaurant is proposing an incoherent and therefore unappealing message and that your restaurant simply cannot be bothered to produce a worthwhile Valentine’s Day experience. Empty signifiers will mean that your marketing message will be passed up in favour of a restaurant’s whose Valentine’s Day marketing message is full.

Valentine’s Day customers are not looking for a deal or discount. They want the full force of the meaning of Valentine’s Day oozing out of your marketing – email and social media, content, website and menu. Beyond this, what they really want to see is how your restaurant’s version of Valentine’s Day is particularly worthwhile and unique.

So think about it… What does Valentine’s Day mean to you and/or your restaurant? Are you a fancy French restaurant and is Champagne your romantic beverage of choice? Make a Champagne tasting menu and allow your marketing to fully convey the reasons why for your restaurant Champagne and passion are inextricably linked…

Are you a simple but authentic Italian restaurant whose customers are not willing to spend upwards of £25 per person? No problem – full meaning does not have to be expensive! Why not dedicate your Valentine’s Day experience to the romantic city Roma with a menu centred on its famous pasta dishes (if you are spending more than £2 for the ingredients for a portion of cacio e pepe, you are making it incorrectly!)? The charms of Rome are an endless source inspiration for the most impactful and meaningful of marketing content, provided your message conveys why you love Rome without falling back on empty clichés.

Above everything else, it is crucial that you weigh the particular Valentine’s Day experience at your restaurant with your own passion to make each meal a veritable sign that your restaurant loves its customers and cares deeply about their satisfaction!