Love is in the air! And, you may prefer to cozy up with your special someone and give a memorable gift straight from your heart rather than dine out on one of the busiest restaurant nights of the year. Many small shops and boutiques are offering creative and innovative gift ideas as well as mouthwatering specialty foods to celebrate Valentine's Day. Some at the top of the list on the Jersey Shore are listed here.
On Sunday, February 10, Carter & Cavero Red Bank is hosting a special Valentine’s Day Tasting of its popular recipe Fresh Strawberries with Dark Chocolate Balsamic Reduction from 12 noon to 4 p.m.
And, for the culinarian lover in your life, from February 8-14, Carter & Cavero is offering special discounts on “Food from the Heart.” Items include: Champagne or Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar, Meyer Lemon Olive Oil (priced at $10.95 per 200 ml bottle and $18.95 per 500 ml bottle), Ratatouille by Oasis Olives ($6.50) and Peruvian Pink Salt ($5.95). Carter & Cavero Old World Olive Oil Company, 19 Monmouth Street, Red Bank, 732-492-1226.
Sugarush a Sweet Experience raises the bar for your Valentine’s sweetie with its 24-carat gold cake pops ($4 each and must be ordered in advance as supply is limited), champagne cupcakes, chocolate-covered strawberry cupcakes, red velvet whoopee pies and a host of chocolate goodies and custom cupcakes. Sugarush, 37 East Front Street, Red Bank, 732-414-9044.
A Valentine Day must, The Red Bank Chocolate Shoppe will offer special discounts on its gourmet homemade chocolates from February 1 through February 14. Say you care with a divine indulgence whether it be a chocolate rose, heart-shaped box or chocolate-covered strawberries. It doesn't get more romantic than a Traditional Red Heart with a Big Bow - one and half pounds assortment of “Homemade Chocolate Goodness" that includes milk and dark chocolates, nuts, chews, caramels and more for $42. Valentine Truffles is 8 oz. of luxurious assorted truffles in a special red fabric swirl-patterned heart gift box for $17.95. One Pound assortment of “Homemade Chocolate Goodness” in a Valentine’s Day Fabric Swirl Heart box includes milk and dark chocolates, nuts, chews, caramels and more. Perfect for $28.95. Red Bank Chocolate Shoppe, 17 White Street, Red Bank, 732-219-0822.
Cherry Grove Farm’s affairs of the heart feature the perfect match of cheese and chocolate. Its heart-shaped Coeur de Fromage is actually a traditional shape of Neufchâtel- style cheese. During the 6th century, the young women of Neufchâtel-en-Bray offered this cheese to their gallant knights during the Hundred Years War as a token of their affection. Keep the tradition alive by offering Coeur de Fromage to your sweetheart. This beautiful cheese stands alone as a romantic gesture for any cheese lover. However, Cherry Grove is also offering a Spread the Love gift set (available in-store only) pairing the cheese with the delectable Tuscan-style chocolates by local chocolatier, Diane Pinder of Donna & Company. The Farm Store is open weekdays 11-6 (closed on Wed.) and weekends, 10-5 p.m. Cherry Grove Farm, 3200 Lawrenceville Road, Lawrenceville, 609-219-0053.
Sickles Market features Valentine Cheese Plates that embrace a love of specialty foods and will tantalize your special someone. Love Bites - Cheese Plate Includes: CacioƩa Nostrana (Italian Style Brie), Vieux Cru des Crémiers (French Mountain Cheese), Marcona Almonds, Fig Salame, Red and Green Seedless Grapes and RusƟc Bakery Hazelnut Crackers. $50
Say You’ll Be My Valentine - Cheese Plate Includes: Brebirousse D'Argental (A French sheep’s milk cheese from the Auvergne region), Chocolove Dark Chocolate with Cherries & Almonds, Red Seedless Grapes and Waterwheel Crackers. $25
Pre-order cheese plates by Feb. 13 at 732-741-9563. Sickles Market, 1 Harrison Avenue, Little Silver, 732-741-9563.
Put a little magic into your sweetheart’s Valentine. Pre-order your custom cupcakes from the Cupcake Magician and take advantage of the bakery’s special Valentine’s Day curbside delivery service. Cupcake Magician, 54 Monmouth Street, Red Bank, 732-530-5700.
Enjoy this article? For up-to-the-date food news, recipes and an inside look at great restaurants and events, please enter your e-mail address above to receive e-mail alerts and be sure to visit me visit Shore Region Restaurant Examiner and TastefulLiving.net.