Ari's Picks

Delicious Valentine’s Gift Ideas from around the ZCoB!

Eight ways—some small, some large—that might make your loved one’s day

If you’re looking for a range of good Valentine’s gift ideas, here’s a generous handful that are in my mind from around the ZCoB!

J. Patrice Chocolates at the Candy Store and the Deli

Beautiful, tasty classic chocolates on hand at the Candy Store for you to select for your loved one to open and be wowed! Jamie LeBeouf is the highly skilled longtime manager of the Candy Manufactory confectionery kitchen. J. Patrice is her super tasty chocolate “solo album,” making beautifully decorated and highly delicious handmade chocolates. Over the course of 20 years, Jamie has been perfecting her skills—studying confectionery and even running her own chocolate shop in Beirut and then in Kuwait! My favorite is the Arabic Coffee, but all of the two dozen varieties are wonderful. For Valentine’s, Jamie made a gift-boxed large Milk Biscotti Heart, and also a 2-piece chocolate heart gift box (Passionfruit and Raspberry Rose)!

A close up view of a tag on a Valentine candy bar with check boxes and options reading: i heart you, you rock, thanks for all you do, and be mineShawn Askinosie’s new White Chocolate Strawberry Bar

If someone you know is a white chocolate lover, they are likely to love this special new offering from my good friend Shawn Askinosie. I’ve been eating a lot of Shawn’s Super Dark 88% chocolate of late, but this lovely Valentine’s bar is essentially its spiritual opposite. Both are excellent, but this one is light, fruity, buttery, and beautiful to boot. Unlike most white chocolate, which is mass-produced, Shawn and crew craft their own from Tanzanian and Philippine cacao. Add a bunch of strawberries and a small touch of black pepper, stick it into beautiful packaging, and there you have it. Lovely to look at it, even better to eat! At the Deli and the Candy Store.

Please Brie Mine Bries from the Creamery—topped with a raspberry preserves heart!

Handmade little rounds of brie made from local cow’s milk from Calder Dairy. The pale white rind of the cheese is stencil cut with a heart across the center that’s lovingly filled with a bit of raspberry preserves. Delicious and beautiful both! Pair with a glass of wine, a baguette, or a few of those wonderful artisan Winter Wheat Crackers from Madison, all of which the Cream Top Shop stocks regularly!

Valentine’s Flowers at Cornman Farms

Thanks to the good folks at Little Workshop Floral, the Farm will have beautiful bouquets for the Valentine’s Day festivities. Order online, swing by, and pick up!

Come have Valentine’s Dinner at the Roadhouse

An enticing offering of Valentine’s dinner specials will be on the menu for the holiday. There’s much more to see online, but here are three that I’d come in to eat:

  • Georges Bank Scallops & Tomato Risotto – Made with seared Georges Bank Sea Scallops and Chris Bianco’s organic Di Napoli tomatoes.
  • Meatless Maitake Mushroom Ragu & Polenta – Local enoki and maitake mushrooms, braised with herbs and broth served over Anson Mills’ heirloom, organic Otto File polenta.
  • Pepper Steak & Herbed Polenta – Tellicherry-pepper-crusted New York steak served over herbed Anson Mills’ Red Flint Polenta Integrale. Topped with a fresh scallion and bacon salad.

Plus, the “regular February specials,” including the Wild Caught Shrimp and Smoked Chicken Gumbo below, AND the whole of the regular menu to boot. Book soon—it gets busy!

Zingerman’s Food Tours

Want to give a Valentine’s gift that will always be remembered? This could be the ticket! The North of Ireland, whence Gareth Higgins and Gerrie both hail, will be coming up in the fall of 2023!  The trip sounds beyond terrific. Long time ZCoB friends and co-hosts for this trip to the North, Kate McCabe and Max Sussman from Bog & Thunder, join the Zingerman’s Food Tours team to visit world-class cheesemakers, regenerative farmers, fisherfolk, and craft distillers as well as dive deep into the amazing history of the region. There’s also Tuscany, Paris, Sicily, and so much more!

Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading books and pamphlets!

While I know sweets are what comes first to mind for most folks giving Valentine’s gifts, there are those, like me, for whom a carefully chosen book (or two) with a touching card attached is much more exciting than sweets. Any of the Guide to Good Leading books or pamphlets are a show of support, positive belief, and commitment to the growth of your life partner. If you like red, we have a little Valentine’s book bundle set up—Being a Better Leader, “The Art of Business,” and “Bottom Line Change.” Looks great! If you order online at Zingerman’s Press, Jenny Tubbs has generously offered to wrap and tie it with a red ribbon. Show your love through the gift of learning! Want to go big? The “All the Pamphlets” set—artisan pamphlets of various colors, all bundled together—is guaranteed to blow the mind of the leader you love if they love to read and learn.

A Quartet of Corgi Cookies

You read about them last week! They’re at the Bakehouse, Coffee Company, Roadhouse, and Deli all month. A portion of sales from each beautiful, and tasty cookie, goes to the Jelly Bean Jump Up to support SafeHouse Center. I just gifted two this morning to help someone who was having a hard day!

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