It's Valentine's Day....or did you forget?
That's right it is Valentine's Day today, which means, if you have a sweetie who is really into it and expects something, you better get on it. Don't worry though, everyone waits till the last minute to shop for this day. By that I mean, on their lunch hour or on their way home today there will be the obligatory stop at Walgreen's or CVS to see what is left in the boxed chocolate and V-Day card aisles. And if you are lucky, you may pass a florist on your way home too.
Now me and the SO are not the sentimental sorts and while in the past we have exchanged cards or what not, we are always like, eh, why not spend the $4 from the card on something really useful and edible. I might also suggest, why not eschew the standard drugs/grocery store chocolate and think a little outside the Whitman's Sampler Box for other items on this "special day" made up by card companies. Yeah, you can read all about how it was meant as something else before morphing into its current consumerism here. Because of it, let's fly in the face of what everyone else does and do something different.
Not to mention, today is also Ash Wednesday for those practicing folks, which means some people may have given up chocolate for Lent. I will posit though, they probably didn't realize V-Day was going to fall on the same day and probably feel really screwed about now as the thought sinks in. Fear not, I'm here to offer up some alternative suggestions besides some boring old chocolate. And no matter what you say, it is irrelevant that I am not really a chocolate in candy form person. At least I enjoy it in cakes, frosting, donuts, cookies and other baked goods so get off my back!!
Seriously, let me offer a handful of different food ideas that can still show your honey, darling, sugar, love, sweetie, blah, blah, etc., etc., all the love in your heart that can also fill up their stomach and satisfy a sweet tooth or three.
Baked goods in the shape of hearts abound this year from Mrs. Fields to Starbucks to Safeway and while, sure, you could get those, why not pick up your game with some from Miette. Giant butter cookies with lots of red and white frosting. Each individually different and handmade, surely to stand above the mass produced fray. Plus, they also offer an additional array of candies at their shop in Hayes Valley and the Ferry Building where you could build your own sweet collection of Valentine treats.
Here's another left option for you, El Porteno at the Ferry Building. Sure, you could also get them some empanadas from them, but it is the sweet delight of the above dulce de leche heart shaped cookies that will really stand out. I have had their regular shaped version of this cookie and it is fabulously tasty. A sweet treat any day for sure, but more special here covered in white chocolate and just waiting to be eaten. Pair them with some hot chocolate and lots of whipped cream either on top or wherever else you want to use it.
How about this for different--Japanese sweets! Mochi balls have been trending for a few years now, I mean you can even get frozen ones at Whole Foods and Brenda Leong at b. patisserie is even planning to to do donut versions of them. The original are available around town at a number of places but why not go special high end treat with these from Minamoto Kitchen on Market St. While I'm not the biggest fan of these, the SO loves them and you can create a mix and match selection of colors for a unique Valentine box just for that special someone who likes these instead of chocolates.
Here is something I would most definitely be interested in, a box of mini cupcakes from Cako! A box of these instead of chocolate? Yes, sign me up! Nothing says love like baked goods with all that yummy icing of buttercream and cream cheese variety. Sure, I may be in the minority here, but at least with a cupcake you don't have to poke a whole in the bottom to figure out what flavor it is. If Cako isn't your bag, Mission Minis is also a great option to try where you can mix and match a box from a variety of flavors.
Or if you really want, you can go real old school for baked good treats and get a dozen heart shaped donuts from the new Krispy Kreme down at Fisherman's Wharf. Granted, it will probably set you back about the same amount as some artisanal chocolates (tourist prices at that place!) but they will taste just as good the next morning with a cup of coffee.
Otherwise, if you really must get some chocolate because that is what your partner, spouse, significant other, blah, blah, etc., etc., wants, then at least try to avoid the mass consumption ones and try to support local makers and suppliers. Here are some options.
Fog City News on Market Street is a great place for a wide selection of local chocolate makers along with an array of V-Day cards as a one stop shop. The staff is pretty knowledgable and will help you find the right local maker to match a persons taste and wallet.
Giddy Candy at the corner of Noe and Market St. in the Castro is a small shop with a robust collection of local chocolate faves and their own supplies. Plus, they have the added bonus of other candies from jelly beans to sweet and sours to match any candy taste that doesn't fall into the chocolate realm.
You can also always hit the source directly if you want some locally made chocolates at some of the below makers:
- Poco Dolce--located on Third St. in the Dogpatch neighborhood. Known for dark chocolate and tile shapes.
- Dandelion Chocolate--with locations at the Ferry Building and on Valencia St. they are perfecting the bean to bar experience. Plus they have teamed up on some co-branding with a few local makers who don't have store outlets like Nosh This and Kika's Treats.
- Feve Chocolates--they have also teamed with Dandelion, but you can also check out their shop in the Bayview District.
- Christopher Elbow--located in Hayes Valley, has a wide selection and they call come in pretty shapes and colors.
- Socola Chocolatier--located way down SoMa way on Folsom and 2nd-ish it is a tiny spot with big flavors in their handmade truffles.
- tinyB chocolate--out West Portal way and Portola Way area, it is another little shop (seems to be the thing) with some special V-Day offerings.
- XOX Truffles--in North Beach offers up the French truffle technique with some liqueur infused flavor to really set the mood right.
Also, as one last thing which might be different, why not serve up a heart shaped cookie from Starbucks along with a gift card from them. It will then be the gift that keeps on giving them their half caff double shot latte with extra foam and one Splenda mixed in for a few weeks, or months, depending on how much you give them.
Otherwise, you can just wait to the last minute like always and run into Walgreen's on your way home for this...........
...and from the looks of it, you better hurry!