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!”

Pi Day

March 14th is coming up and 3/14 = 3.14 = the first three digits of Pi = Pi Day! This date isn’t just revered among math nerds and science geeks. Ever since National Pi Day in 2015, when the date was 3/14/15, or represented the first five numbers of pi (and even more if you considered the time of day, morning and night, which many people did: 3.1415(9:26:53 or 9:26 and 53 seconds!), awareness of pi day has increased. As a result, pi day has grown in popularity beyond the cloistered halls of math, science, engineering and physics. Of course we at Manhattan Fruitier had to jump on the bandwagon too and find a way to make Pi Day more fun!

Happy Pi Day

For the last several years, we have been making Pi Pies for Pi Day. Naturally, pie-eating is one of the main activities of Pi Day, and we love homophones and alliteration too! Our Pi Pies are sweet (literally and figuratively) little hand-held pies that are flaky little gems filled with raspberries and branded with a hand cut pi sign which looks like this:

π

Our Pi Pies are made exclusively for Manhattan Fruitier by the wonderful bakers at Sweet Leaf Bakery in Long Island City! We put three Pi Pies in our adorable “blue box” for a delightful surprise on your Pi lover’s doorstep.

Sweet Leaf has a small commercial kitchen so we aren’t able to request very many Pi Pies. We get one delivery right before Pi Day so don’t wait too long to order or you will be out of luck and your Pi Day celebration won’t be nearly as merry.

More About Pi

Here in the United States, children learn about pi in geometry classes which usually begin in 6th or 7th grade (unless you are advanced!) For those of you who may need a refresher, pi is the number you get every single time you divide the circumference of a circle by its diameter. It doesn’t matter the size of the circle: the result will always equal 3.1415926535897…..!! That’s pretty remarkable!

Pi was calculated and has been used since the earliest known ancient civilization of Mesopotamia, somewhere between 3800 to 3200 BCE, when the wheel was invented. Pi is also what is called an “irrational” number which means that it cannot be expressed as a fraction and the number of decimal places is infinite. The symbol for pi (π) is the 16th letter of the Greek alphabet and was chosen in the early 1700s because it is an abbreviation for the Greek word for “perimeter”. Pi is fairly ubiquitous: it is used as a constant in formulas in math, physics, engineering and architecture, and the natural biological sciences as well.

Unique Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Her

Valentine’s Day has been celebrated here in the United States for over 300 years. It’s a popular and happy holiday, particularly for couples who are romantically inclined. However, it can also be stressful. People often feel pressured on Valentine’s Day to find a way to adequately express the depth of the affection they feel. As a result, you may end up spending a lot of money searching for something unique to buy, something different to do, or something impressive enough to demonstrate just how much you love and appreciate your special person.

While I would certainly not recommend waiting to the last minute to think about the Valentine’s Day gift you want to give, nor would I recommend using your local supermarket for a store bought card and plastic wrapped roses, I can say with confidence that you can find small and sweet ways to acknowledge the subject of your adoration that will carry just as much meaning as a grand gesture.

There are two key guidelines to follow when looking for unique Valentine’s Day gift ideas for her:

  1. Make it personal
  2. Put in a little effort

When your gift reflects her individual tastes and preferences, you are telling her how intimately you know her. And when your gift shows that you had to put in time and thought, you are telling her how much you care. This is what romance is all about – it’s not about the money.

Classic Gifts With A Twist

Red roses, chocolate-covered strawberries, champagne and sexy lingerie have become rather predictable gifts for Valentine’s Day and while they are sure bets, they are also fairly banal so don’t make the cut for unique Valentine’s Day gift ideas for her. Why not play a bit with the classic ideas?

FLOWERS: For example, instead of sending roses, get her favorite flowers instead. These days, our access to flowers is not confined to the seasons so that’s no excuse. Spring flowers such as tulips and hyacinths are readily available and can be the harbinger of warmer weather and bluer skies. Of course, if you don’t know her favorite flower…. well, you should!

CHOCOLATES: Sweets are a lovely Valentine’s Day gift for her, but there’s no need to be restricted by the ubiquitous chocolate-covered strawberries. A little research on the web will reveal all kinds of fun and unusual chocolates to treat her with. When she opens our precious “jewelry box” of bonbons, she will behold an array of shiny “gemstones” that are as beautiful to look at as they are delectable to eat.

Our one-of-a-kind French bulldog chocolates are an adorable and unique Valentine’s Day gift for her and you can’t beat the charming packaging.

The old-fashioned “conversation” hearts can be a nostalgic Valentine’s Day sweet gift for her. Pair it with a Victorian-era Valentine’s Day card asking her to “Be Mine” and some tea roses that looked like you picked them from Grandma’s garden, and you have a very traditional gift with an old-time feel that makes it seem fresh again!

LINGERIE: Instead of lingerie, think about something else in a sexy, satiny fabric. How about a silk blouse in a bright ruby red, sapphire blue or emerald green? Be sure to get the size right! If you don’t want to splurge on satin sheets, satin pillowcases are a real treat and women like them because they help keep our hair in place while we sleep. Besides, they feel wonderful against the skin.

CHAMPAGNE: Champagne is very festive, but maybe it’s not her preferred drink. Think about gathering the ingredients to make her favorite specialty cocktail, or visit a local distillery where they are making artisanal gins and whiskeys and enjoy an afternoon of tastings. Remember, it’s not about giving a gift that the holiday dictates: it’s about giving a Valentine’s Day gift that is personal to her.

Surprises Big and Small

Organizing a surprise definitely takes time and effort and if your sweetheart likes spontaneity, then this could be the perfect way to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Surprises can come in lots of packages. There is, of course, the grand display: tell her to pack a weekend bag, pick her up at work and go to the airport headed to Paris, Milan or Reykyavik! But there are many ways to surprise and delight that are more modest.

For example, what does she do every day? Let that guide your gifts. You could present her with a Starbucks card (or put the app on her phone and hook it to your account for a week or months worth of morning coffees), or get her a subscription to a wine of the month club. Gifts that give more than once are truly memorable.

Show her you love her by doing some of the chores she does every day: make the bed; clean the kitchen; take out the recycling; plan, shop and prepare a nice meal; walk the dog; pick the kids up from school, etc.  Gifts like these take effort on your part, and give her the precious gift of time. She can choose how she wants to spend it.

Leave little hand-written love notes where she will find them all day long on Valentine’s Day. Put one in her wallet, in her briefcase, on the bathroom mirror, in the fridge, in her lunch bag, in her underwear drawer, in the car, on the alarm clock in the morning, etc. Anywhere she will discover them through-out the day. You’ll be reminding her multiple times how much she means to you. And isn’t that the point of a Valentine’s Day gift?

Take it Public

Valentine’s Day gifts for her are often shared in private. Why not make a statement with a public display of your affection? Send a gift to her at work. This will surprise her and bring attention from her co-workers. Go to her work and take her out to lunch. Kiss her in public. Hold hands while you walk.

Do something she enjoys with her. Take her to her favorite store and participate in the shopping experience, whether it is testing perfumes, looking at jewelry, or trying on clothes for example. How about getting side-by-side pedicures and manicures? Sign the two of you up for a wine tasting class, or a cooking class, or a lecture at the museum, or a sporting event. One year, Jehv came to an exercise class of mine and it was hysterical watching him as he tried to keep up with the tough work out. He is very physically fit, mind you, and he never had much respect for what he perceived as the “girlie” gym classes I went to. But after taking this class with me he was rather chagrined and he let me know how much he admired my strength and stamina.

Tell her why you love her

Although the meaning of red roses and other Valentine’s Day gifts may be readily apparent don’t miss the opportunity to use your words! Make it personal if you can. If you do give her a card, take a little time to write something yourself. Although the card will hold the sentiment, to make it personal it needs your own touch. You can never go wrong if you simply tell her why you love her.

Note that while the focus of this post is on unique Valentine’s Day gifts for women, many if not most of my ideas can easily be translated into unique Valentine’s Day gifts for men. This holiday is traditionally about gifts for her, but why be mired in convention? Believe me, your guy will be thrilled to be acknowledged on Valentine’s Day. Remember, the same guidelines apply: make it personal, and put in a little effort. Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

How Well Do You Know Peanuts?

Before you eat another peanut, test your knowledge by taking this quick quiz and learn something in the process!

Whether you’re The Nutty Professor or Nut Job, almost everybody loves peanut butter, right? But people tend to be very particular about how they like to eat it

We surveyed our Manhattan Fruitier family to see how much variation we would find when we asked the question:

“How do you like your peanut butter sandwich?”

The first big surprise was that one person hates peanut butter! Another surprise was that quite a few of us liked it the same simple way: on two slices of bread with either grape jelly or strawberry jam, although people were quite specific in their preference for chunky/crunchy versus smooth/creamy.

A few of us gave quite detailed descriptions:

– On whole grain bread, smash a banana on it and cover with crunchy peanut butter and a pinch of salt, then put the whole thing in the toaster oven.

– Butter a single slice of toasted white bread and spread smooth peanut butter and mixed berry jam on top. Must have it with a glass of tomato juice.

– Only eats peanut butter (crunchy) on celery sticks.

– Lots of chunky peanut butter, lots of grape jelly on  untoasted white bread. The peanut butter has to be spread all the way to the very edge of the bread and the peanut butter and jelly has to be on both  slices of  bread.

– Open-faced on multi-grain toasted bread with smooth peanut butter, sliced banana and drizzled with honey.

How do you prefer your peanut butter sandwich?

6 Distinctive Gifts for Mothers of Every Kind

This Mother’s Day, surprise and impress with a gift that is beautiful, elegant and exceptional—just like Mom. Manhattan Fruitier offers Mother’s Day gifts suitable for all different types of mothers.

For the Early Riser

Early Bird Breakfast

This is the mother who rises with the sun to enjoy a healthy breakfast in the dawn of the new day. While we cannot promise a beautiful sunrise, we can surely supply the breakfast with our appropriately-titled Early Bird Breakfast Basket, so named for the included granola from Early Bird Foods of Brooklyn, NY. Also in this gift: walnut bread, peach preserves, Clementine juice and a rose with vase. This is a breakfast to cherish for the mother you cherish. Continue reading