By Eloise Horsfield

WHILE you might be planning a hand-made card, or a dozen roses and chocolates, everyone knows the only real way to truly impress on Valentine’s Day is a proper  meal complete with candles, whispered sweet nothings and footsie under the table.

“Valentine’s Day is all about the man earning Brownie points with a slap-up meal,” said Guy McCrow from the Beach House restaurant in Marbella.

“It could be out or at home, but if he can’t manage that, he’s simply not generous enough in my opinion!”

Andalucia is the ideal place for romantic dining; with its stunning seascapes or views across mountains – meaning you’ll be able to alternate your gaze between your lover’s beautiful eyes and the beautiful scenery around you. Assuming it is still light.

Here, we look at some of the options for a romantic meal for two – and for those of you wanting to cook your partner dinner at home; turn over for the top five aphrodisiac ingredients to include in your menu…

Polo House
Treat your loved one to a glamorous night out at James Hewitt’s elegant restaurant in Marbella.
Offering a five-course menu plus entertainment on the most romantic night of the year, Polo House is the ideal place for that special celebration.
With a chef who was trained by celebrated Claude Dupont, the menu will certainly not disappoint. For a glitzy night out accompanied by delicious food, Polo House is the ideal Valentine’s Day location.

A beautiful restaurant set on the waterfront in Sotogrande, Spinnakers is a fabulous place to take your partner for a surprise Valentine’s Day dinner.
You cannot fail to impress when you tell your lover that Austrian chef Philip Hannig was trained by Gordon Ramsay at his London Boxwood Cafe.
The light and simple menu offers fresh seafood and fantastic veggie options, and the chilled-out atmosphere makes it an ideal setting for a loved-up night out.

Al Lago
This rural idyll sandwiched between the two mountain ranges of Grazalema and Ronda overlooks a gorgeous lake, a great setting for that romantic meal for two. Chef Stefan is a true star and serves up rustic Andalucian cuisine with a modern touch, and a strong focus on fresh vegetables. The restaurant is serving a great-value Valentine’s menu between February 10 and 20, as well as a cracking hotel offer (upstairs) complete with cava, breakfast, lovers’ luxury dinner and late check-out. Everything you could possibly want!

Beach House Marbella
Tucked away on one of the nicest beaches on the Costa del Sol, at Elviria, the chic Beach House is wonderful for that romantic dinner under the stars overlooking crashing waves. One of the coast’s true dining secrets with both style and panache, enjoy a special Valentine’s Day dinner in this sophisticated but relaxed setting. Get there early enough, and you’ll be able to treat your darling to a cocktail as you watch the sun set over Gibraltar.

The Landings restaurant has a great ambiance in one of the best locations in Gibraltar, well away from the hustle and bustle. With a view over the beautiful marina and distant Spanish mountains, it’s a great place to enjoy the company of your sweetheart. Let ex-Savoy chef Patrick Rodgers cook you up a Valentine’s Day treat including fish caught with rod and line in nearby waters. The Queensway Quay walkway, lined with huge anchors and cannons, is also great for a romantic stroll after your meal.

San Roque
Slowly becoming one of the top places to hide out and enjoy luxury at affordable prices, the superb Tango bar and grill at the Suites Hotel in San Roque is a great romantic secret. Come and enjoy live music and a fantastic Valentine’s Day menu in a stylish palm tree setting. The majestic clubhouse-style restaurant is the perfect way to relax with your lover after a round of golf, particularly if you take advantage of the superb deal now on offer to play two rounds – and stay – in the amazing local suites hotel next door, where the likes of Tiger Woods and Ernie Els once luxuriated.

For those who would rather a night in, take a look at our top 5 aphrodisiacs:

(Well, they do say the way to someone’s heart is through their stomach…)

Almonds have been a symbol of fertility since ancient times, with a sweet scent that is said to arouse passion among women. It is because of their romantic appeal that sugared almonds are given out at weddings.

Asparagus is said to evoke feelings of lust in both sexes, and was recommended by ancient sex therapists to help increase sex drive. In 19th century France, bridegrooms were given it during the prenuptial dinner to make sure they satisfied their partners.

is a well-known aphrodisiac, with experts believing it increases women’s capacity to produce the pleasure chemical endorphin. Some have been known to argue that they derive even more pleasure from eating chocolate than from making love.

Garlic has long been known for increasing sex drive, containing a chemical called ‘allicin’ that increases blood flow to the sexual organs. Make sure both parties eat it so you aren’t bothered by each other’s garlicky breath!

Avocadoes are packed full of pleasure-stimulating vitamins. The Aztecs called the plant the ‘testicle tree’ due to the appearance of the fruit growing in pairs on the branch. They also used them to make guacamole, which was sexier still thanks to another aphrodisiacal ingredient – chillies.

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