St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is observed on March 17th, the day that St. Patrick died in 461 AD. This holiday celebrates the introduction of Christianity (specifically Catholicism) to Ireland as well as Irish culture, folklore and traditions. Originally a holiday celebrated only by the Irish, today St. Patrick’s Day has become a multi-national festival. People from all backgrounds turn out for their town’s annual St. Paddy’s Day parades and join in on other holiday traditions such as hanging out in Irish pubs to drink Irish beer and Irish whiskey; eating Irish dishes such as Irish Soda Bread, Shepherd’s Pie, or Colcannon; listening to traditional Irish folk music; singing Irish ballads; and wearing green-colored clothes and/or carry shamrocks.

St. Patrick’s Day is also known as “Roman Catholic Feast Day or “The Feast of St. Patrick”. Interestingly, March 17th falls smack dab in the middle of the Catholic religious season of lent (between Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday before Easter Sunday) when excessive drinking and feasting is strongly discouraged if not prohibited. Historically, these sanctions were lifted for St. Patrick’s Day which may have contributed to this holiday being known as a raucous daytime party with happy drunken revelers!

 

St. Patrick’s Day Gifts

We never miss an opportunity to create a gift for a specific holiday, and St. Patrick’s Day is no exception! Building on the themes of this Irish tradition, we paired our fresh fruit hamper — well, we are a Fruitier after all — with a charming green and gold Shamrock Cookie Trio from our beloved Duane Park Patisserie and an authentic Irish Soda Bread made by our friend Amy from Amy’s Bread. We call this St. Patrick’s Day gift our “Luck of the Irish”. If you are looking for a “Pot of Gold” then we can add a delectable box of three types of chocolate treats: Irish whiskey truffles, Irish coffee bonbons, and Irish cream truffles (see photo below).

 

 

 

 

Brief History of St. Patrick

St. Patrick was a real saint, although never actually canonized by a pope. Still, he became the biggest saint in Ireland and he wasn’t even Irish! He was born in Britain around 385 AD and it is said that his real name was Maewyn Succat. When he was 16 years old, he was captured by the Irish and taken to Ireland where he worked for 6 years as a shepherd. During the time of his enslavement, he found God, made his way back home and studied for the priesthood. Later he returned to Ireland as a missionary and changed his name to Patricious (or “Patrick”) derived from the Latin for “Father Figure”. In Ireland he converted many Druid’s, who worshiped nature and harmony with the earth, to Christianity. St. Patrick is renowned for “driving the snakes out of Ireland”: a metaphor for ridding the country of pagan religions. Factually, there are no snakes in Ireland!

St. Patrick is also closely associated with the shamrock, so we had to include Shamrock cookies in our St. Patrick’s Day gifts! Legend has it that St. Patrick used the three-leafed clover to illustrate the Holy Trinity — the God, the Son and the Holy Spirit as three parts of a whole –- to the uninitiated. In statues and other imagery, St. Patrick is often shown holding a posy of shamrocks in his hand.

Customs of St. Patrick’s Day

Drinking Irish whiskey or Irish beer in Irish pubs is a time-honored activity on St. Patricks Day. Many bars open early so the drinking often begins first thing in the morning and extends through-out the day! We couldn’t imagine creating a St. Patrick’s Day gift that didn’t have a nod to Irish whiskey, Irish coffee and Irish cream.

Wearing green on this day is a ritual that is followed by people of Irish heritage and non-Irish heritage alike. Green is the color associated with Catholics in Ireland (orange for Protestants) and Irish folklore says that wearing green can hide you from the mischievous fairies known as leprechauns who will pinch you if they can see you. Even today people not wearing green on St. Paddy’s Day are risking a pinch from a passer-by!

Next to the potato, Irish soda bread is probably the most recognizable Irish food around and would be included in any traditional St. Patrick’s Day feast. Amy’s Irish soda bread is deliciously light, flaky and not too sweet. Made with the classic ingredients of buttermilk, caraway seeds and raisins, this round soda bread loaf adds another Irish-inspired element to our St. Patrick’s Day gifts.

Irish in America

The largest wave of Irish immigration occurred of course shortly after the devastating potato famine. About 2 million Irish people who were able to escape the starvation and disease, immigrated to the United States shores beginning around 1845.

Today there are over 30 million people in the United States who are of Irish descent. So it’s no wonder that St. Patrick’s Day has grown to be a national celebration. In Chicago, the city dyes the Chicago River green! It only lasts a few hours but it must be a sight to behold! Here in New York City, the renowned St. Patrick’s Day parade, official since 1848, draws millions of people. That’s why they say, “On St. Patrick’s Day, everybody’s Irish”.

Don’t forget to treat your friends, family and co-workers (whether of Irish heritage or not) to our fun St. Patrick’s Day gifts to acknowledge this spirited holiday. Eirinn go Brach (in Irish Gaelic) or Erin go Bragh (the English bastardization) which loosely means “Ireland until the end of time!”

Food and Wine Pairing: A Match Made in Heaven

Famous author Clifton Fadiman once said, “If food is the body of good living, then wine is its soul.” And we at Manhattan Fruitier couldn’t agree more. We all have grown up hearing the basics “white wine with fish, and red wine with meat.” But there is so much more when you delve into what goes into pairing a meal with the perfect glass of wine. Over the next few posts, we hope to help you understand how to pair wine with food, and replace some of those worn out ideas about pairings.

Factor #1:  Texture

There are two main factors to consider when pairing food and wine. First, is the texture of the food, and by extension the texture of the wine. The four main categories we look at when breaking down texture is density, smoothness, heat, and effervescence (think when you eat popping candy). When deciding on a wine based on food texture, you want to have them complement one another. A useful guide is “light with light, and heavy with heavy.” A dense meal will often overpower and mute a lighter wine, and vice versa.  Champagne and sparkling wines bring the fizzy texture we all love, adding another dimension to the pairing. The bubbles and higher acidity can help clean the palate from oily foods. A unique pairing is a glass of champagne with a hot dog! The sharpness and bubbles cut down the fatness associated with the hot dog texture. At your next summer barbeque try a bottle of Veuve Clicquot brut NV.

 

Factor #2:  Taste

The second factor you want to consider when pairing food and wine is the interaction between tastes.

Sweetness: When thinking about sweetness, we’re talking about the residual sugar in both the food and wine. A sweet wine can moderate the acidity as well as the salt in food. When describing this combination, it’s best to look at examples like salted caramel popcorn and maple bacon. The saltiness binds with the sugar and they tend to balance each other out creating a harmonious blend of sweet and savory or acid. Further, the residual sugar in wine coats the tongue and protects it from some of the acidity in a dish, cutting down on a food’s sharpness. One of our favorite pairings is a sweet Riesling with Asian dishes.

Acidity: Acidity, present in both food and wine, brings freshness by cutting through oily and creamy textures. This tends to increase the perception of body or fullness in both the food and wine. This is why Beurre Blanc Sauces are so famous: the acidity in the white wine cuts through the fatness of the butter. Next time you are serving a creamy or fatty dish, we recommend pairing it with a more acidic wine to bring some freshness to the meal. The acidity in Maris Old School Blanc is high enough to cut through fattier dishes, and has enough citrus notes to complement rich dishes.

 

Saltiness:  Saltiness is most often present in the food where it acts to decrease the perception of astringency, bitterness, and acidity in a glass of wine. A bottle of wine with a high malic acid can mask some of the saltiness. Our Galil Mountain Kosher Sauvignon Blanc pairs fabulously with salty dishes. The salt makes the wine appear less acidic, fuller bodied and less tart.

 

Bitter:  Bitter or tart wines are a challenge for pairing. A wine such as a Sangiovese  may often have tart cherry like flavors. To complement this tartness, we recommend pairing it with a fatty food. This is what makes the red wine and steak pairing work so well together. The bitter tannins bind with the fatty protein in the meats to make the wine softer. Our Candialle Chianti Classico, with its tart cherry and raspberry notes, pairs wonderfully with a steak dinner.

 

Umami:  Umami is heralded as the “fifth flavor”. The term was coined in the 20th century by a Japanese chemist named Kikunae Ikeda, who identified the distinct flavor of dashi, a popular Japanese broth. Ikeda discovered the elusive chemical, glutamic acid, or as we now know it today MSG, and named the taste umami, from the Japanese word for delicious. Umami is described as brothy or meaty, but that doesn’t quite capture the full experience. You can taste umami in foods like Parmesan cheese, seaweed, miso, and mushrooms. When it comes to umami, the Japanese know it best. They pair umami foods with sake because sake possesses umami characteristics. Our Chiyonosono Sake has subtle earthy and sweet notes that won’t overpower the dish.

 

The wine mentioned in this article may be purchased on our website. Our wine & wine gifts can be delivered anywhere in New York State.

 

Traditions of Purim

The “Purim Story” is derived from the Book of Esther, or “Megillat Esther”. The dramatic events that form the basis of the Purim celebration are described in a prior blog on the History of Purim. Today, we wanted to focus on some of the customs surrounding this holiday, particularly those that entail the special foods eaten during the happy Purim feast and the Mishloach Manot (Hebrew) or Shalach Manot (Yiddish). This year, the Purim celebration begins on Wednesday, February 28th and ends on Thursday, March 1st.

Misloach Manot Ideas

Literally translated as “sending of portions”, the Misloach Manot is specifically mentioned in the Book of Esther: “…. Therefore do the Jews of the villages, that dwell in the unwalled towns, make the fourteenth day of the month of Adar a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day, and of sending portions to one another. …” Thus, one of the traditions of Purim is to send gifts of food and drink to friends and family. Anyone above the age of Bat Mitzvah (12 years old for girls) or Bar Mitzvah (13 years old for boys) is expected to participate in the Shalach Manot.  The foods must be ready-to-eat and there must be at least 2 types of food included (that is, food that requires different blessings from each other). The obligation is to send to one person, but most people send gifts to many.

It is also customary to use a 3rd party messenger to give the gifts since Misloach or Shalach means “to send” rather than “to give”. That’s why we at Manhattan Fruitier offer a line of gifts for Purim that we can deliver for you! We have four Mishloach Manot ideas that should please anyone on your gift list.

Hamantashen

Each of our Purim baskets contains the essential food that most embodies the meaning of this holiday: hamantashen! Hamantashen is a three-cornered or triangular shaped pastry that is folded to disguise (not completely, but partially) the sweet fruit-based fillings inside. Most Misloach manot ideas would include hamantashen. Our baskets for Purim include both the traditional poppy seed hamantashen as well as apricot, and they are both Kosher.

If you already know the story of Purim (if not, you can refer to our blog on the History of Purim — see link above) you will know that Haman was the evil Prime Minister of the King of Persia, who was married to Esther. Haman plotted to massacre the Jews but was thwarted by Esther. Hamantashen (Yiddish) is literally translated as “Haman’s hat” or “Haman’s pocket”; in Hebrew it is called Oznei Haman meaning “Haman’s ears”, and these little pastries do resemble these items.

The word tash in Hebrew means “weaken”. It may be that eating hamantashen or “weakening Haman” symbolizes the many incidents described in the Megillah where the tables are turned on Haman. For example, Haman was once strong and in the king’s favor, then he was out of favor with the king and became weak; Haman wanted royal robes and to ride the streets on a royal horse, but Mordecai ends up being given that privilege; Haman was once the Prime Minister, then his nemesis Mordecai was given his position; Haman once owned property, then Queen Esther inherited it; Haman once plotted to kill the Jews, and then he and all his family were killed, etc.  Another interpretation is to show that something bad and evil can be turned into something sweet.

The way hamantashen is made also reflects one of the core themes of Purim. The sweet goodness of the filling is hidden inside the pastry, the same way that Esther’s true identity as  Jew was disguised, and the same way that it is said all the miracles of Purim directed by God were concealed.

Wine

It is also typical that ideas for Shalach Manot include wine! Since Purim is a joyous holiday it should come as no surprise. Wine always adds a celebratory note to any festive event. But there are several possible explanations that come from the Talmud and the Story of Purim itself. The Book of Esther distinctly states that the Jews rejoiced at Purim by drinking. The Talmud also says that on Purim, one is to drink to the point of not being able to distinguish between “cursed is Haman and blessed is Mordechai”! However, the Talmud also says that drinking should be moderate so as not to get so drunk as to break any of the commandments.

In accordance with tradition, then, we have paired each of our Purim baskets with a delicious wine. The wine in our Misloach Manot baskets are all Kosher and are imported from Galilee, Israel.

Purim Delight With Wine (wine can only be delivered in New York State and Washington, DC)

Purim Delight With Wine
(wine can only be delivered in New York State and Washington, DC)

We offer both a dry, full-bodied red wine (Alon, 2012 from several varietals) and a crisp and citrusy white wine (Sauvignon Blanc, 2016) from the Galil Mountain vineyard.

Other Traditions

When reading the Megilla or the story of Purim, it is common practice to use a noisemaker or stomp one’s feet every time the name of Haman is spoken, as if to expunge him the way he wanted to wipe out the Jewish race.

Dressing up in costumes and/or masks is another Purim tradition. While the entire Book of Esther does not mention “God” at all, it is believed that God was actually guiding the way at every point in the story. In other words, God’s miracles were hidden from Esther and Mordecai. And Esther hid the fact that she was Jewish from the king who wanted to marry her. Dressing up may also reflect the dressing up in royal garb as Esther did as Queen and as Mordecai did when he was honored by King Ahasuerus. So disguise is an underlying premise of Purim.

Finally, it is expected that one will give to charities during the Purim holiday. Matanot L’evyonim or “gifts to the poor” are usually in the form of money and typically it would be the amount that would be spent on a meal. Alternatively, one could also send a meal. It is required to give the Matanot L’evyonim to at least two people, but often people choose to give to many in need.

Chag Purim Sameach or “Happy Purim”!

Lunar New Year Traditions

Although the Western calendar has been adopted by most Asian cultures, Lunar New Year (also called the Spring Festival) remains a holiday of great cultural and historical meaning going back at least 2000 years! Like Thanksgiving in the United States, travelling home for a family reunion dinner is an imperative for people who celebrate. In fact, in China Lunar New Year counts as the biggest annual migration of people on Earth (even larger than the number of Muslims who visit Mecca every year), with just shy of 400 million expected to take to the railways to travel to their hometowns for the holiday this year. And in New York City, public schools are closed on the first day of the New Year holiday.

The Lunar New Year varies by date year-to-year. It occurs on the second New Moon after the December solstice. This year, the Lunar New Year begins on Friday, February 16th, although the New Year’s eve family dinner on the night of the 15th is the true beginning of the holiday. It lasts 15 days, and culminates this year on Saturday, March 3rd with the Lantern Festival: lanterns are lit at night and then let go into the sky en masse with wishes for prosperity and good luck in the coming year. It is truly magical to behold.

Lunar New Year is not just a holiday celebrated in Asian countries. With our sizable population of Asian immigrants, Lunar New Year and Lantern Festivals are celebrated in many towns and cities across the United States. Here in New York City, the Chinese New Year’s Day parade is a popular multi-cultural event. This is a fun, happy and lively holiday, vivid with colors, music, noise and special foods.

Origins of the Lunar New Year Holiday

Lunar New Year began in China with the fable of a horrible monster named “Nian”. The story roughly goes that Nian liked to eat people and it would come into the villages on New Year’s Day and gobble up the villagers, finding children a particular delicacy. The people of the village would flee from their homes every year before Nian was due to arrive. But one year, and old man stayed to try to fight the beast. The old man draped red papers all over the town and set off firecrackers all night long. Nian did not come and the village came to believe that Nian was afraid of the bright color red and the loud noises of the firecrackers.

This is why red is such a significant color for this holiday. Red repels bad luck and thus allows good fortune the opportunity to reign. People dress in red, decorate their homes in red, and give money in red envelopes. In Lunar New Year parades, Nian is depicted as the familiar dragon that winds his way through the streets and people on the sidelines set off firecrackers and use noisemakers to frighten the monster away and keep them safe.

Preparations for the Lunar New Year Celebration

People spend a lot of time preparing for the Lunar New Year. They clean their houses not just to be ready for family and guests at the New Year’s Eve dinner, but also because it symbolizes the washing away of any bad luck left over from the preceding year and allows room for the good luck in the new year to accumulate. Once the cleaning is done, the brooms and dust pans are put away so that any good luck that comes cannot be “swept away”. Homes are decorated in red paper and some people actually paint doors and window sills with a fresh coat of red paint. Some homes are also decorated with paper cutouts of Chinese phases that will bring good luck. People buy new clothes, often in red or other bright colors, again as a symbol of a new beginning. This is similar to what we see in the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, where people wear new articles of clothing to signify a fresh start with the New Year.

Also analogous to the traditions of Rosh Hashanah is the attention paid to homonyms: words that are spelled alike or pronounced similarly even if they have a different meaning. Auspicious words that mean good fortune, wealth, health and prosperity are emphasized as are foods and other items and activities that sound like auspicious words when they are spoken. For example, the word “hair” in Chinese sounds like the word for “prosperity”. So if you need a “hair cut”, you are wise to get it done before the Lunar New Year otherwise you may “cut your prospects for wealth”. Similarly, you would wash your hair in preparation for the New Year, so as not to “wash away” your chances for good fortune. More on other superstitions under “Taboos” below.

In Asian cultures, business and personal debts, whether of money or of gratitude, are expected to be paid up before the New Year and this is not dissimilar to the thanks and apologies and amends made in Jewish cultures on Rosh Hashanah.

Lunar New Year’s Eve Dinner

Family members will travel far and wide to return home for the traditional annual reunion dinner on Lunar New Year’s Eve. It is customary for guests to bring gifts. If you are invited to such a dinner this week, you can bring or send ahead our “good fortune” gift basket of lucky fruit and Year of the Dog hand-iced cookies in the propitious colors of red and gold!

People will spend days preparing all the special foods customarily found in the Lunar New Year’s Eve meal, not unlike many cross-cultural holidays. Similar to the Jewish New Year, foods that are eaten on the Lunar New Year are homophones for words that convey good luck and prosperity.

Not only do the dishes themselves matter, but the way they are prepared, the way they are served and how and when they are eaten are also significant and will vary depending on local customs and individual family traditions. But a Chinese New Year meal almost always includes the 7 lucky foods: whole fish, dumplings, spring rolls, a rice-based cake called niangao, longevity noodles, certain fresh fruits, and sweet rice balls called tangyuan.

WHOLE FISH:

Certain fish when pronounced out loud sound like auspicious words and so these fish are usually served as the main dish at a Lunar New Year’s Eve dinner party. For example, carp (jee-yoo) sounds quite similar to the Chinese word for “good luck” (jee), and catfish (nyen-yoo) sounds almost exactly like the Chinese word for “year surplus”. And if you eat two fish, it means “surplus year after year”! So the belief is that if you eat these fish you will also literally absorb these good wishes and have much abundance in the New Year.

The fish is usually placed in the center of the table with the head facing the eldest or most important member of the dinner party. This positioning connotes respect to the chosen person, and he or she is to eat the fish first. Fish is generally the last dish eaten. Some fish is always left over to be eaten the next day in the New Year so that the “surplus” can be continued.

DUMPLINGS:

The making and eating of dumplings is also a traditional family activity at the Lunar New Year, especially in Northern China, where they are made after dinner and eaten around midnight at the very start of the New Year. Dumplings are boat-shaped like ancient coins of silver or gold, and thus they represent wealth. Eating lots of dumplings means making lots of money in New Year!

The most lucky dumplings are the ones that are made with many pleats, and some people conceal a white thread or a copper coin inside one of the dumplings: whoever bites into that one will get the gift of long life or wealth, respectively.

SPRING ROLLS:

Named because they are eaten at the Spring Festival, these treats are little dough rectangles filled with vegetables or meat, rolled into bars, and deep fried. The golden color and the shape make them look like “gold bars” and hence they symbolize wealth. Spring rolls are especially popular in Eastern China.

NIANGAO:

Niango (also called Eight Treasures Rice) is a special cake or pudding made primarily of a sticky, glutinous rice and sugar, layered in patterns with a mixture of nuts, dried fruit, seeds such as lotus and gingko, berries, and sometimes red bean paste. The literal translation of niango means “New Year cake” and when spoken sounds like “increasing prosperity year after year” or “getting higher and higher”. The suggestion is that you will gain a better position in your business and your bank account when you eat this traditional treat. In Southern China, niangao is given as gifts to family and friends through-out the 15 day New Year celebration.

LONGEVITY NOODLES:

Noodles are often a part of the Lunar New Year’s Eve meal. They are made especially long (up to 2 feet in length!) and are uncut to symbolize a long and healthy life. Longevity noodles can be prepared in numerous ways, and traditions will vary with the local cuisine.

FRESH FRUIT:

Citrus fruit are especially coveted on the Lunar New Year. The round shape is a symbol of fullness and the yellow, golden color denotes wealth. In keeping with the purpose of many other foods at the reunion dinner, the names of certain citrus are homophones for good luck. That’s why we include only the best citrus fruits in our Lunar New Year gift basket.

TANGYUAN:

These sweet rice balls are featured prominently during the Lantern Festival at the end of the 15 day Lunar New Year celebration, and in Southern China are eaten throughout the holiday. Again, the round shape signifies fullness and the sound tangyuan makes sounds similar to gathering together, like the family reunion dinner on Lunar New Year’s Eve.

Lunar New Year’s  Day Celebrations

After staying up all night, or at least until after midnight to greet the New Year, daytime celebrations may be quieter, although in New York City, the annual “Chinese New Year parade” that snakes around Chinatown and little Italy is a lively and festive New Year’s Day celebration. Firecrackers and fireworks are set off to ward of evil in order to allow in all the good fortune. Giving gifts of money in brightly colored red envelopes is another holiday tradition and most people will receive a red envelope from someone. People will dress in new clothes, often red (the luckiest color) or other brightly hued colors to reflect their wishes for a good year and their happy mood.

Lunar New Year Taboos

The traditions of many cultural holidays arise from ancient myths and fables that are passed down over generations and while they may become diluted, they often persist and Lunar New Year is no exception. There are many superstitions surrounding this holiday in Asian cultures.  Following are some interesting examples of beliefs and taboos for the first day of the Lunar New Year:

  1. Don’t take medicine or you will be sick for the entire year.
  2. Don’t go to the hospital or you will bring sickness on yourself for the entire year…. unless it’s an emergency!!
  3. Don’t take out the garbage or you will be dumping out all the good luck that has accumulated in the house.
  4. Don’t use knives, scissors, needles or other sharp objects that you could hurt yourself on. Any accidental injury can bring bad luck and loss of security.
  5. Don’t break tools or equipment as it can cause a loss of wealth in the New Year.
  6. Don’t eat porridge for breakfast because it is what poor people generally have for breakfast and the New Year doesn’t want to start off “poor”.
  7. Don’t let children cry because it will bring bad luck to the family.
  8. Don’t wear white or black clothes because these colors are associated with death and mourning and you don’t want to bring that into your house.
  9. Don’t allow anyone to steal from you, especially don’t be pick-pocketed because it means that your entire accumulated wealth for the year will be stolen.
  10. Don’t owe any money lest your wealth will go to others.

Next year will be the Year of the Pig, representing the 12th and final cycle in the 12 year lunar calendar. Until then, wishing everyone a very lucky and prosperous Lunar New Year!

Valentine’s Day Gift Basket Ideas

As January progresses past New Year’s and the month of February approaches, our attention begins to turn to the next holiday: Valentine’s Day! Most people associate the spirit of the day with romantic and sexual love, so when we think about giving gifts on Valentine’s Day, we have a tendency to focus on things that are associated with passion and indulgence. And that’s what I’m going to spotlight today when I share with you my classic “themes of love” Valentine’s Day gift basket ideas.

Sensual Fruits

Fruits embody sensuality. First, fruits are actually “ovaries” that develop around fertilized seeds after the reproductive process of pollination. Second, think about the words we use to describe fruit: sweet, fleshy, juicy, succulent, luscious, ripe, and tender to name a few. Third, the way we eat fruit can be pretty sensuous to experience and to observe. It doesn’t take much imagination to see the sexiness in all that!

Finally, certain fruits are believed to possess properties of an aphrodisiac. For example, the apple is a notorious symbol of temptation since Biblical times, and in Greek mythology, the lure of eating pomegranate seeds was too much for poor Persephone to deny and thus she sealed her own fate to live below the earth’s surface in Hades.

To learn more about other “fruits of love”, refer to our popular blog from February 2014 written with knowledge and affection by our own Matthew J!

Roses

The red rose is a classic symbol of love. When you send red roses, the meaning of your missive is unambiguous! Many of our Valentine’s Day gift baskets are paired with red roses for that very reason. A fresh fruit basket or a box of chocolates suddenly takes on a whole new implication once we add red roses to the gift.

We order well over a thousand long stemmed red roses for Valentine’s Day every year! We actually start looking at the roses much earlier, around the middle of January. We purchase several varieties from different farms and we experiment with them to find the best performer. We want to learn how fast they bloom, how big they open, and how long they last. We want the roses you send to open in a wildly flirtatious way and look good even as they are fading! This year, we have selected a red rose called “Freedom”. If you are looking for Valentine’s Day gift basket ideas that include red roses, ours will be available on February 12th, the Monday before the holiday.

Chocolates

Chocolates have also become rather de rigueur in Valentine’s Day gift baskets for him or for her. Chocolates and their creamy sweetness represent indulgence and Valentine’s Day is a perfect time to pamper your sweetheart with treats of all kinds. Chocolate-covered strawberries are ubiquitous this time of year. For the best options, look for smaller strawberries as they are the tastiest. Some even come with their green tops still on for extra charm. Harder to find is a strawberry dipped in real, premium chocolate, like Valhrona. Most “chocolate” that is used is completely fake, and although it may look like chocolate, it doesn’t taste like chocolate.

Not sure whether to send fresh fruit, roses or chocolates? Why choose? We can solve that dilemma by offering Valentine’s Day gift baskets (for her or for him) that include all three components! We call them our Three Part Harmony Gifts, in three sizes:

Three Part Harmony: Tenor, Alto (pictured), and Soprano

Lavish Gifts

This may be the year when you want to express your ardor in a monumental way: go for it! Think sumptuous and extravagant. Create a feast of love with an intimate tableau in your own living room (or bedroom). You can do it yourself, or let us do it for you. Our luxe and deluxe Epicurean Hamper will tempt with delicate delectables from appetizers to dessert. Consider having it delivered with caviar and champagne to amp up the passion even more.

Epicurean Hamper with Caviar

Or perhaps you’d prefer to send our “Lavish Love”: a new Valentine’s Day gift basket idea that we developed for 2018. The name says it all! We set the stage with champagne, chocolates, caviar and red roses, and you provide the rest for a perfect romantic experience.

New for Valentine’s Day 2018

Whether you create your own “themes of love” gift baskets, or choose to send one of ours, don’t be sexist in your thinking about this holiday! Traditionally, Valentine’s Day gifts tend to be for her, but men like getting Valentine’s Day surprises too. Our romantic selections make great Valentine’s Day gift baskets for him as well!