A Valentine’s Day Gift Makeover
This year give your Valentine something they’ll actually want to receive.
Forget Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day usually plays out on a continuous strip of repeated traditions year after year after year.
Besides Champagne, I think I’ve been giving and receiving the same things every Valentine’s Day since I was a child. If this holiday is truly a celebration of love—something that I think we probably need more of now than ever before in recent history—then give your loved ones gifts that are a bit more thoughtful this year. Please find below a few suggestions.
If you’re shopping for a foodie, there are a range of heart-shaped products out there, from cake pans to ice cube trays to plates, but it seems odd to use these items on any other day of the year. So, I suggest buying something special that your love ones can use year-round. The gorgeous 10-inch cast iron Chef Skillet ($140) from Charleston, South Carolina’s Smithey Ironware certainly fits the bill. The pan is so beautiful that you might be tempted to just display it like a piece of art. While cast iron usually weighs a ton, this Smithy pan feels light and is easy to maneuver on the stove. (It also weighs less than five pounds.) If you’re intimidated by the process of breaking in a cast iron pan, Smithey offers explicit and easy to follow instructions for seasoning the skillet.
Another piece of cookware to consider is Le Creuset’s Signature Oval Baker. Yes, you can get it in Valentine’s Day appropriate cerise red (or six other colors if you prefer). Not only is it durable enameled cast iron but you can use the dish to cook both savory foods and also sweet ones ensuring that it will be a constant reminder of your love. It comes in three sizes: 5/8 quart ($75), 1 quart ($100) and 3 quarts ($200).
If you’d prefer something a bit easier to ship or wrap, I suggest the new anthology Women on Food put together by journalist Charlotte Druckman. It reminds me of an old-school zine from the '90s and is full of interesting essays, thought-provoking stories, interviews with celebrity chefs and rapid-fire questions and answers from a who’s who of cooking.
If you give chocolate, I think you should buy the best chocolate that you can afford. Yes, you’ll taste the difference. My family is crazy about Jacques Torres’ Netflix cooking show Nailed It and I’ve been a fan of his chocolates since he opened his first shop nearly 20 years ago. For Valentine’s Day, I suggest giving his aptly named Happily Ever Gift Set ($100), which includes 24 bonbons, chocolate Xs and Os and an oversized chocolate plaque and even a card. (He also sells most of these confections separately.)
I’ve certainly drunk my share of Champagne on Valentine’s Day, but I’ve come to realize you don’t need to limit yourself to just sparkling wine on the holiday. There are obvious choices, like the New York Distilling Company’s Dorothy Parker Rose Petal Gin ($29), which comes in a pale pink and makes a delicious cocktail. And less obvious choices, like the Westward Oregon Stout Cask Single Malt Whiskey ($80), which the distillery even sometimes pairs with chocolates and is aged in, you guessed it, a barrel that previously held stout beer. The sought-after eight-year-old Stagg Jr. Bourbon ($50) would also make an excellent gift and you should hopefully be able to find a bottle because the distillery just shipped out an allotment of the whiskey.
And if you would like to drink some fine bubbly, Moët & Chandon released a special edition of its Signature Edition Rosé Impérial for the holiday ($58). Cheers!