Valentine's Day might be all roses, bonbons and restaurant reservations for some folks, but as a lover of food (and love), you're probably plotting a pull-out-all-the-stops dinner at home.
Candles? Check. The perfect steak? We've got you covered. Now, it's time to kick things into high gear: A few thoughtful store-bought goodies can put the cherry atop your romantic spread.
Here are eight of our favorite upgrades for your most delectable Valentine's Day yet.
① Take-Home Oysters at Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co.
Never shucked an oyster? Head to Greenpoint and its staff will do it for you—or better yet, they'll teach you to do it yourself. While you're there, pick up a dozen briny Chathams ($1.10 each) or a selection of sweet, buttery Standish Shores ($1.10 each) from the daily rotating menu. Add on a container of mignonette or cocktail sauce ($2 for two ounces), head home and throw those suckers on ice, just in time for dinner.
② The BKLYN Larder Lovers Gift Box at BKLYN Larder
This aphrodisiac-inspired box ($129) has everything you need to kick off your Valentine's Day dinner: a selection of cheeses and crackers, dried Calimyrna figs, spicy Iberico chorizo and a jar of delicate acacia honey for drizzling. It even includes a rich, flourless chocolate-orange cake, perfectly sized for two.
③ DIY Fondue at Murray's Cheese
There's something inexplicably romantic about a molten pot of sharable cheese. And while Emmental-Gruyère might be the classic blend, the folks at Murray's are happy to help you customize. Stop by on a weekday afternoon and let the experts guide you through an offbeat selection that's perfect for melting, like the highly seasonal raw milk L'Etivaz ($30 a pound) or the nutty, punchy Scharfe Maxx ($25 a pound). Pick up a fondue pot and burner ($60) while you're there.
Il Buco's heart-shaped baguette and green tea roll from Bien Cuit | Photos: Katie Foster and Dave Katz
④ Heart-Shaped Baguette at Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria
Head baker Kamel Saci's brandy-soaked, cherry-dark chocolate chunk bread ($7.50) might be a more on-the-nose Valentine's offering, but we couldn't resist the surprisingly dainty, pleasantly chewy and all-around delicious heart-shaped baguette ($5). Plus, it's cute. It's really, really cute.
⑤ Caviar and Chocolate at Marlow & Daughters
One-stop shopping is the name of the game at Marlow & Daughters, where you'll be able to preorder the savory alongside the sweet. Tins of sustainably raised, white sturgeon caviar ($50 for 20 grams) are sold right alongside miniature, sharable desserts like dark chocolate layer cake with salted caramel and ganache ($26).
⑥ Dynamite Cake at Dominique Ansel Bakery
Each year on Valentine's Day, the entire pastry case at Dominique Ansel Bakery is tinted pink, flavored with grapefruit, raspberry, rose and guava. But if you, like us, appreciate just a touch of kitsch, you'll love the bakery's Dynamite Cake ($20). Modeled after a stick of TNT, this airy chocolate-and-spiced caramel creation comes in its own miniature wooden box.
⑦ Bamboo Cake at Bien Cuit
Not in love with a chocolate lover? Woo your sweetheart with matcha sable and sponge instead. With a shiny green, white chocolate exterior, rosewater syrup and a dusting of shaved pistachios, the Boerum Hill bakery's Bamboo Cake ($27) is earthy, light and not too sweet.
⑧ Bonbons at Stick With Me Sweets
It should come as no surprise that the offerings from Susanna Yoon, the former chocolatier at Per Se, are arrestingly gorgeous. And if you're a classic romantic, you can't go wrong with a medium box of 12 bonbons ($49). There are 25 flavors to choose from, but be sure to spring for the Speculoos S'more–a crunchy Speculoos cookie and homemade marshmallow top enrobed in milk chocolate–and Bourbon Maple Pecan, studded with crispy toasted pecans and a tiny dollop of bourbon caramel.
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