Our Favorite Food Gifts for Valentine’s Day


[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

We don’t have anything against flowers or jewelry, but here at Serious Eats, food is the language of love, and we’ll be expressing it this year in the form of all kinds of delicious edible gifts. We’re die-hard fans of homemade presents, like the nutty-sweet cookie butter pictured above; if that’s your speed, we have a whole collection of DIY projects for you. But if Valentine’s Day is more of a store-bought affair in your household, we’ve got you covered. Below, the food gifts we’ll be buying—or (hint) hoping to receive—this February.

Ines Rosales Sweet Olive Oil Tortas

[Photograph: Courtesy of Amazon]

My husband and I don’t typically exchange gifts on Valentine’s Day—we prefer romantic experiential celebrations, like rewatching our favorite Archer episodes together—but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be totally delighted by the right choice of edible surprise. These crisp treats (tortas de aceite in Spanish) aren’t new, exotic, or terribly fancy, but they are delicious. Enriched with lots of olive oil, scented with anise, and sprinkled with a fine layer of sugar, they sit pleasantly in between sweet and savory, bread and cake, which makes them incredibly versatile for pairing with spreads, jams, or cheese. The texture manages to be simultaneously crunchy and tender, and the simple packaging is low-key attractive. You could make a lovely gift basket by pairing these with Marcona almonds, membrillo, a wedge of Manchego, and a bottle of Rioja. Then you could give it to me and make a new friend for life (please?). —Miranda Kaplan, editor

Buy Ines Rosales Sweet Olive Oil Tortas online here »

Chili Granola

I’ve been buying food gifts from Mouth for years. Part of the reason is that their copywriters are really funny and creative, and I like to support my people. The other part is that it’s basically an endless online warehouse of every delicious small-batch food in existence. I could sit and peruse all the cookies, chocolates, chips, booze, and pickles for hours. I’m actually surprised that they haven’t called me to become an official spokesperson. While I’ve sent countless treats to friends, family, and myself (mostly to myself), I especially love this Chili Granola by Bad Seed. You can put it on anything! It’s crunchy, nutty, a little sweet, and a lot of spicy. The balance of coconut palm sugar, applesauce, brown sugar, and honey keeps all the spicy chili powders (yes, powders, plural) at bay. Sure, you could put it on your morning yogurt, but you could also add it to some roasted salmon that needs a kick, or, as Mouth suggests, to bacon-y Brussels sprouts. I also really want to try crushing it up and using it as a crust/sauce for chicken wings. Basically, if your valentine likes hot sauce, this makes a great gift. —Ariel Kanter, marketing director

Buy Bad Seed’s Chili Granola online here »

A Food-of-the-Month Club Subscription

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Despite never having shelled out the money to give someone else a food-of-the-month-club subscription, I frequently fantasize about being the recipient of one. Just imagine—a mystery box containing some of your favorite foods (wine! bacon! chocolate! coffee! seriously-take-your-pick-because-there’s-a-food-of-the-month-club-for-everything!), delivered to your doorstep on a regular basis.

Of course, the best one to get depends on your valentine’s preferences, but there are a few particular subscription-based gifts I’d be especially delighted with. None are cheap, but if you’re in it for the long haul, or if you’re the grand-gesture type, these are the sorts of gifts that literally keep on giving. I’m talking a box of 50 oysters, curated by Island Creek and overnighted to your home each month. Or a monthly salami from the widely acclaimed Olympia Provisions (which also sells more modest, one-time delivery packages if you’re on a tight budget—or new to the relationship). If you’re shopping for someone with a sweet tooth, the world-famous scoop shop Jeni’s Splendid has a pint club that’ll get you a total of 16 pints of ice cream, spread over quarterly installments. And then there’s my personal happy place: three carefully selected cheeses each month, tasting notes included, from dairy mecca Murray’s Cheese. And hey, if you’re feeling lonely this Valentine’s Day, I really can’t think of a better way to keep yourself company than sending a handful of these my way taking the plunge and treating yourself. —Niki Achitoff-Gray, executive managing editor

Get a Murray’s Cheese-of-the-Month Club subscription online here »

Brown Butter Milk Chocolate Bar

I’m a card-carrying member of the “dark chocolate is better” club. My wife, however, is not, so I often find myself holding my nose when I buy her chocolate for Valentine’s Day. Then, a few months ago, I tried the Brown Butter Milk Chocolate from Fruition Chocolate, based in the Catskill Mountains. It is a revelation. The brown butter gives it a deep caramel flavor, without any of the usual goo. I think of it as a serious and blessedly less sweet version of a bar-shaped Rolo, minus the stickiness. Since my wife loves both milk chocolate and caramel, the Fruition Brown Butter Milk Chocolate bar represents that rare item, a Valentine’s Day gift that’s a win-win for both parties involved. —Ed Levine, founder

Buy Fruition Chocolate Brown Butter Milk Chocolate online here »

Russ & Daughters New York Brunch Package

Russ & Daughters babka. [Photograph: Niko Triantafillou]

Since my husband is a chef (and I’ve also spent my fair share of time in sweaty kitchens), we’ve gotten pretty used to not celebrating holidays together, but that doesn’t mean we don’t try. We’ve been known to squeeze in festivities whenever possible—exchanging Christmas gifts in between lunch and dinner service, toasting the new year on the line, or, my favorite, sneaking in a late-night Valentine’s date. No meal feels more romantic than breakfast in bed, but when you come home at 2 a.m., why wait till morning? This brunch package from Russ & Daughters allows us to feel like we’re sitting in a busy New York cafe on a Sunday morning, no matter the place or time. I feel comfortable saying no one does smoked fish better, and what’s more cozy then eating babka in bed while bingeing on Seinfeld until dawn? —Sohla El-Waylly, assistant culinary editor

Get the Russ & Daughters New York Brunch package here »

Honey

There’s an ever-flowing fountain of opportunities to tell your special someone “You’re so sweet!”, but the one I’m choosing this year is the gift of expensive honey. Off the beaten chocolate path, and a far cry from a bag of conversation hearts, a jar of nice honey is a food gift that has no shelf life. Seriously, honey doesn’t expire, and neither does your love. Too cheesy? Well, now that you mention it, this honey would be nice with some cheese—a sharp white cheddar, perhaps. Or, try stirring it into otherwise-routine tea to make it a bit more memorable. IMHO, this jar of Late Summer Sag Harbor Honey from Bees’ Needs is especially romantic: In the darkest, coldest depths of February, the image of bees and wildflowers by the bay on a mid-September afternoon is all the more dreamy. —Kristina Bornholtz, social media editor

Buy Late Summer Sag Harbor Honey online here »

Island Creek Oysters

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

A cliché, I know. Oysters must be one of the most touted aphrodisiacs out there, and every Valentine’s Day, scores of publications and pesce-peddlers will spout the same rehashed, wink-wink-nudge-nudge copy detailing oysters’ amour-inspiring lore. Even though I loathe the simplified commercialization of the complex notions of love and affection (yada, yada, yada), none of that can dampen my own personal ardor for bivalves of many a shape, size, and provenance—particularly oysters. If you must celebrate, I beg you: Ditch the diamonds. Sending (to another or to yourself) a bag of pure, sea-tasting, sustainably raised Island Creek or Wellfleet oysters straight from the source sounds like a gift from the heart to me, and this is as good a time as any to do it. —Marissa Chen, office manager

Buy Island Creek Oysters online here »

Godiva Chocolatier Dark Chocolate Hot Cocoa Canister

It’s Valentine’s Day, but also February—a brutally cold month here at Serious Eats HQ. You can warm a human soul for a good long while with a tub of great hot cocoa. The key is shelling out for a mix that’s less one-note and more luxurious than the supermarket standard you made mustaches with as a kid. Godiva’s dark chocolate hot cocoa is a mix of Dutch-processed cocoa powder, which gives the drink a smoother, mellow flavor, and bittersweet chocolate, for a layered, complex, adult beverage. Mix up a cup with some warm milk, maybe a splash of Southern Comfort, and four tablespoons of cocoa, and it’s basically like sipping on a warm hug—exactly what you need when there’s 10 inches of snow outside and the bloom fell off the rose last week. —Sal Vaglica, equipment editor

Buy Godiva Chocolatier Dark Chocolate Hot Cocoa online here »

Daily Harvest

This is going to sound like a straight-up #ad, but I love giving the gift of ready-made meals, particularly when the recipients don’t always have the time to cook for themselves. My mom works from home and has never had much of an interest in cooking, but loves to eat delicious food (duh). And, as a Southern Californian, her taste tips toward the “healthy” end of the spectrum. My sister and I didn’t like the idea of her subsisting off of Trader Joe’s salads, so we purchased her a few weeks’ worth of Daily Harvest smoothies and bowls, delivered right to her doorstep, to help her get a fresh start on 2018 (we love our smoothies in California). We’ve heard that she’s eating slightly fewer packaged salads and breaking out her chopping knife and blender more. This is all to say that a meal subscription service can be a great gift for the person you love whom you want to see eating better. —Natalie Holt, video producer

Buy a Daily Harvest subscription online here »

Chocolove 77% Extra Strong

[Photograph: Courtesy of Amazon]

There’s no better gift than chocolate on Valentine’s Day, but instead of a classic box of chocolates, why not just mainline the real deal? If your crush is a baker, nothing says “I love you” like a case of chocolate, so I suggest going all in on a box of Chocolove 77%. Despite the cutesy name and decorative gold packaging, it’s a downright legit chocolate, with a super-glossy temper and satisfying snap. Plus, the flavor is smooth but robust, not to mention “extra strong” (like your love, perhaps?). It’s as perfect for a late-night snack as it is for blending into my chocolate chip cookies, so you can be sure none of it will go to waste. —Stella Parks, pastry wizard

Buy Chocolove 77% Extra Strong online here »

Tim Tams

*Melt*.

That’ll be both the luscious milk chocolate coating on your fingers and your chocoholic significant other’s heart if you snag a pack of Tim Tams this February. I first tasted heaven in all of its crispy, chocolaty goodness in November 2011. My sister was studying abroad in Australia and—knowing me very well—shipped me several of the larger packs of Tim Tams. I had never heard of them, and have cursed the gods for that fact every day since; I went 26 years without tasting one, which is criminal. (Side note: My biology lab partner around this time was a guy named Tam—not joking. Match made in heaven.) Having polished them all off, I was left empty-handed yet again. Back then, I couldn’t find the cookies anywhere on the East Coast. Apparently Pepperidge Farm was slinging them somewhere in the country, but I never saw them, let alone the original Arnott’s.

It wasn’t until I traveled through Singapore and Thailand in 2014 that I got my hands on some again. I bought as many as would fit into my backpack, but, to my horror, they weren’t as good as I remembered! I can only guess that those versions, which were manufactured in Indonesia, lacked the quality of the Aussie originals. Those were dark, disillusioning times. Some years later, my girlfriend found and bought a couple packs for me from a specialty import shop in New York, and it was back to the good stuff. Now, in 2018, Arnott’s has finally (FINALLY) conquered America, and Tim Tams are sold in every grocery and big-box store. At long last, you can grab a pack at Target every time you pick up dog food or cleaning supplies. Or, you know, every time you shop for your perennial love on a random day in February. —Tim Aikens, front-end developer

Buy Tim Tams online here »

Instant Jajangmyeon

This is for the singles and the ones who don’t care an ounce about Valentine’s Day. Although it’s not celebrated on the same day, South Korean singles use the holiday to enjoy a bowl of black bean noodles, or jajangmyeon. If you look past the gooey brown sauce, it is savory and sweet, and very satisfying; to me, it’s the equivalent of slurping up a plate of spaghetti and tomato sauce. A bowl of jajangmyeon should have the proper amount of meat chunks and chopped vegetables drowning in that sauce. Mix the sauce with noodles right before digging in. You can challenge yourself by making it from scratch with Korean black bean sauce, or get quick instant packages, such as Paldo Premium Jjajang Noodles. —Vivian Kong, designer

Buy instant jajangmyeon online here »

A Bunch of Cheese

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

My wife and I never really celebrate (observe?) Valentine’s Day, although, when we were dating (courting?), we used to go out on the night before, in part because it was easier to get reservations at the better restaurants on “Mistress Day” (yep, that is a real, terrible thing). So I’ve never really had a reason to buy my wife a gift on Valentine’s—food, flowers, drink, whatever. But if I were to buy something that spoke to my undying love, and somehow conveyed the fact that I “get” her better than any other person on the planet, I’d probably go out and buy her a big globe of fresh mozzarella cheese—the bigger the better—and maybe a pound of Gruyère, or, since I suppose people do tend to get a little fancy on this made-up holiday, I might spring for some Kirkham’s Lancashire. What’s so special about the Kirkham’s? For an in-depth look, you can read a whole dang article about it, but, in brief, it’s like a better cheddar—crumbly and smooth at the same time, with a deceptively mild flavor at the outset that just builds and builds as you try to stop yourself from eating it. It isn’t cheap, but it is sublime. Best eaten in big chunks cut straight from the wedge, but if you have a bunch of crumbles lying around, put them to use in what will be the finest egg and cheese sandwich you’ve ever had. —Sho Spaeth, features editor

Buy Kirkham’s Lancashire online here »



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