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the sweet scoop
The best way to your Valentine’s heart may not be through fancy gifts or flowers… but through their stomach. Sharing an indulgent, edible gift with the person you love can be the most utterly romantic experience. Here, some of my favorite food finds to set hearts aflutter and make that special someone swoon.
Macaron Magnifique French Macarons
In August 2012, celebrity stylist Lauren Rae Levy and her father Marvin established their Parisian macaron company, Macaron Magnifique. Handmade and completely gluten-free, these delicate French confections come in scrumptious flavors including raspberry, chocolate, pistachio, and cheesecake. Customize a special box of the sweets (available in various sizes/prices) to make your Valentine fall in love at first bite. Ooh la la! MacaronMagnifique.com
William Greenberg Petits Fours
This darling Upper East Side bakery features a divine assortment of desserts and speciality sweets for every occasion. A Valentine’s Day exclusive from owner Carol Becker, these oh-so pretty Petits Fours feature layers of fluffy sponge cake and fresh jam enrobed in frosting and hand decorated with delicate flower adornments. Available in large ($6) or small sizes ($3.50; $42 / box of 12), these beautifully tempting treats are sure to delight your sweetheart. WMGreenbergDesserts.com
Mast Brothers Artisan Chocolate Bars
At their artisanal chocolate factory in Brooklyn, brothers Rick and Michael Mast churn out small batch bars made with cocoa beans sourced from farms around the world—including Madagascar, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic. Wrapped in beautifully patterned, imported Italian paper, these handcrafted confections ($8 each) boast sophisticated, high-quality ingredients like Maine sea salt, Crown maple syrup, and Stumptown coffee. MastBrothers.com
Murray’s Cheese Gift of the Mongers
If your significant other prefers savory to sweet, then feast your eyes on the ultimate cheese and charcuterie collection ($148) curated by Murray’s mongers. Shipped in a signature Murray’s Cheese crate, this bountiful assortment of gourmet delicacies includes Vermont Butter & Cheese Coupole, Colston Bassett Stilton, La Quercia Prosciutto, Cave Aged Pyrénées Brebis, Creminelli Tartufo Salami, and Harvest Song Walnut Preserves. MurraysCheese.com
Jacques Torres Champagne Truffles
Champagne and chocolate. An indulgent culinary combination that Mr. Chocolate himself, Jacques Torres, showcases in his beloved bubbly truffles. Inside the signature orange gift box, your Valentine will discover cute, cork-shaped candies made from mouth-watering milk chocolate, fresh cream, and real Taittinger Brut La Française Champagne. Cheers to that! MrChocolate.com
KitchenAid® Artisan® Series Stand Mixer
Valentine’s Day is all about love. And no other appliance has made me fall head over heels like my red KitchenAid® stand mixer. The stylish, high-performance beauty makes whipping, kneading, and blending ingredients a breeze. In striking colors like Candy Apply Red, Raspberry Ice, and Komen Pink, this dream machine (available in various sizes/prices) is the perfect “I love you” gift for home cooks of all skill levels. KitchenAid.com
Eataly Ultimate Italy Gift Box
Manhattan’s massive Italian food emporium offers a selection of premium gift boxes packed with gourmet goodies and signature products. A serious splurge to spoil the Italian food lover in your life ($498), this exceptional collection of rare and authentic imports includes white truffle purée, extra-aged balsamic, La Valletta saffron threads, anchovy colatura, and gianduja candies from Torino. Eataly.com
Prestat Fine Artisan Truffles
One of the top chocolate shops in the world, this London import epitomizes sophistication in both flavor and presentation. The exquisite heart-shaped gift box (available in various sizes/prices) presents distinctive dark, milk, and white chocolate artisan truffles in an array of fine flavors, including classic rose and violet crème. If these decadent delights are good enough for Her Majesty (the Queen of England’s favorite chocolate!), then your princess will surely approve. Prestat.co.uk
Happy Valentine’s Day, my loves! XOXO
Images courtesy of Macaron Magnifique, Mast Brothers, Murray’s Cheese, Jacques Torres, Eataly, KitchenAid USA & Prestat
For one of the most autentico Italian experiences around, get your appetite ready and head to Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria. NoHo’s rustic market, salumeria, bakery, wine bar and restaurant is an extension of former chef Ignacio Mattos’s original Il Buco, located on adjacent Bond Street.
In the front Alimentari grocery section, you can purchase artisanal dry goods, cured meats, and freshly baked bread to enjoy at home. Or settle into the warm, cozy Vineria and restaurant to sample seasonal specialties featuring organic, local produce and proteins from eco-friendly farms—which chef Justin Smillie precisely crafts using traditional Italian methods. Varied individual and high communal tables invites sharing the love with friends—or making new ones. Belly up to a spot by the open kitchen for a front row view of the staff busily churning out delicacies.
While the atmosphere charms, the simple, straightforward cuisine is most likely to entice a repeat visit. Served with crusty, chewy Italian bread, the house-made ricotta is a must have starter. A pillow of soft curds garnished with sugar snap peas, toasted pine nuts, mint, granola and a swirl of honey offered an inviting sweet-savory sensation. Another knockout appetizer of Manila clams arrived resting in zesty roasted pepper and garlic broth, thick cubes of pancetta sprinkled throughout.
Vegetable contorni, charcuterie and fresh pastas, seafood and meats complete the menu. Try the delicate twirls of “busiate” pasta coated with almonds, anchovies, sun-ripened duana tomatoes and capers. For a heartier entrée, the signature spit-roasted short ribs presented large chunks of tender, peppery meat edged by darkened, chewy bark. They were both exceptional mains.
Offering breakfast, lunch and dinner, Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria is a solid choice for a romantic date night or breaking bread with a group. Make a reservation to guarantee a prompt seating—then prepare to mangia.
My review as published in the Clean Plates Manhattan 2013 Restaurant Guide Book (purchase it here) and on CleanPlates.com. Photo courtesy of LocalEats.com.
Happy one year anniversary to Alobar! Since opening in November 2011, this cutting-edge dining destination in Long Island City has taken “pub grub” to new heights, and has become renowned for serving rustic nose-to-tail American fare paired with carefully selected craft beers, whiskeys and handcrafted cocktails. Alobar even earned a coveted place on Michelin Guide’s 2013 Bib Gourmand List.
To celebrate its first anniversary on November 15th, Alobar is hosting a week of especially delicious events:
Whiskey Tuesday with Four Roses Bourbon | Tuesday, November 13th: To kickoff the celebrations, Beverage Director Chess Lankford presents a complimentary tasting of Four Roses Bourbon, along with a brand rep to share insights on each variety of the Kentucky spirit.
Alobar Charcuterie Night | Wednesday, November 14th: Paying homage to its favorite meat curing styles, Alobar is offering one large platter of eleven of the tastiest house-made delicacies ($50; serves 2-3), with varieties including: Pig Ear Terrine, Duck Breast Prosciutto & Foie Gras-Apple Terrine.
Anniversary Beer Dinner | Thursday, November 15th: Commemorate Alobar’s one-year with an indulgent 5-course menu (including Smoked Trout, Grilled Quail & Rosemary Sausage, Roasted Rack of Lamb & Braised Shoulder, and more) paired with beers from San Diego’s Stone Brewing Company ($50 for dinner & pairings, view the full menu here).
Weekend Pig Roasts | Friday & Saturday, November 16th-17th: Kick up your heels and get ready to pig out at Alobar’s weekend-long pig-filled feast served family-style ($30 per person for mains & sides).
Reserve your spot today! AlobarNYC.com | 718.752.6000 | 46-42 Vernon Boulevard, LIC NY
And to savor the flavor of Alobar at home, mix up their addictive Maple Bacon Popcorn recipe:
Maple Bacon Popcorn | Recipe from Alobar (serves 6)
Preheat an oven to 350°. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add bacon strips and cook until crisp, turning occasionally. Remove bacon to a paper towel-lined plate; reserve 2 tablespoons bacon drippings.
Crumble bacon. Toss bacon, drippings, maple syrup, black pepper, and salt with popcorn. Spread popcorn mixture in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheets and bake for 10 minutes, rotating trays halfway through, stirring occasionally. Serve hot. Enjoy!
Images courtesy of Alobar Restaurant