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  • Andrea Strong

Valentine's Day During a Pandemic: Cooking Classes, Steaks, Bubbly, and Care Packages, Oh My!


It's Valentine's Day, and while it's a super corny holiday, love is more important now than ever I'd say, so let's go with it. Whether you have a partner, a cat, a kid (all of the above), or just your own fine self, do something that puts more love into the world: go out and support a restaurant (or order in), cook something decadent, share a really great bottle of wine, make a commitment to do something for others and yourself—whether that's checking in on an elderly neighbor and helping them make a vaccine appointment, or donating to the Equal Justice Initiative or Feeding America. Maybe this year, let's think of this Valentine's Day as a daylong opportunity to make yourself and the people around you feel some big fat joy.

Bake a Chocolate Cake with One Girl Cookies' Dave Crofton

Love is not complete without chocolate cake (especially Dave Crofton' chocolate cake—moist and fudgey but not too sweet — the best in the city in my estimation). Dave is opening up his kitchen to teach a Zoom baking class that will reveal how to make the richest, most decadent chocolate cake — with a mascarpone whip. The class takes place Saturday February 13th from 3:00pm -4:30pm and is $75/pp. Ingredients not included. SIGN UP HERE!

Cook Dinner with Chef George Mendes of 100 Pleats

100 Pleats is a virtual culinary platform offering a variety of amazing one-on-one cooking lessons by top chefs founded by chef and television personality Franklin Becker. Michelin-starred Chef George Mendes is hosting a Valentine’s Day lesson the night before on February 13th from 6:30pm to 7:45pm. He'll virtually teach you how to make a decadent dinner for your people— oysters and tuna ceviche, slow-baked chicken rice and cinnamon sugar beignets. Sign up here!

A Whole Lotta Love from The Food Crate

The Food Crate, a one-stop-shop for restaurant-quality eats and artisanal groceries, is launching two 'crates' perfect for date night at home. The Valentines By Land Crate includes Manchego, Connecticut Camembert Cheese, and Charcuterie, as well as Twin Filet Mignon with Chimichurri Sauce, Kung Pao Brussel Sprouts with Pomegranate and Blistered Tomatoes. The Valentines By Sea Crate includes a seafood-laden Amalfi Salad, Antipasti, Squid Ink Striped Lobster Ravioli in a Sherry Cream Sauce and Pecorino Cheese. Both date night offerings include Parisian French Rolls, Chocolate Dipped Strawberries, Raspberry Cheesecake and a Bergamot Jasmine Candle. Free overnight shipping for orders of $125 or more is available to addresses in CT, NY, MA, RI, NJ, VT, NH, ME, PA, with additional shipping options offered nationwide.

Drink Some Wine.


My favorite Brooklyn wine shop is Smith & Vine, where owner Patrick Watson stocks a great selection of organic and natural wines, local faves, as well as beauties from up and coming makers. The shop delivers so place your order now! Here are three great bottles of sparkling wine sure to take your mind off the world.


2016 Fleur ”Petite Sirah”, North Coast, California ($19)

A Fleur (flower) you’ll love to give! This spicy and romantic red delivers the perfect kiss of Californian!

Agnès et René Mosse “Moussamoussettes” Pet Nat Rosé, Anjou, Loire Valley, France ($28) This wine is a favorite of mine. I could drink it all day long. (And I have!) A succulently pink, Pet Nat. Pair with dark chocolate and love for best results. Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé, Champagne France ($95) Nothing is sexier than you and this bubbly.

Send a Care Package from Love, Nelly

Love, Nelly, the sister bakery to Butter & Scotch, was opened in July 2020 by Stephanie Gallardo and Keavy Landreth. Named after Stephanie Gallardo’s mother, Love, Nelly is dedicated to the women who have worked tirelessly to pass down recipes, joy, and love. Their Valentine's Day package takes its inspiration from the many wonderful, random, and sometimes bizarre care packages that have arrived on doorsteps over the years. This Valentine's Day Care Package ($59.95) will make you (or the lucky recipient) smile, laugh, and bring a little comfort into your week. It's filled with homemade sweets, passed down recipes, baking projects, and make-ya-feel-good surprises.

It includes:

  • Classic Pink Heart Conversation Cookies

  • Writing Frosting For Conversation Cookies

  • 1 Dozen Chocolate Besitos With Valentines Sprinkles

  • Pink Rose Quartz

  • Surprise Items!

  • 2 Bottles of Honey Chile Rider (Non-Alcoholic drink with instructions for how much alcohol to add. 2 bottles make a total of 4 cocktails).

Shipping included! All Care Packages will ship out 2/10 for arrival by 2/12. Sign up for their subscription care packages and each month they'll send you or someone you love a curated box of baking projects, homemade sweets, and self-care make-ya-feel-good items. Order here.


Nothing Says Love Like Cheese.

Murray’s Cheese is hosting two Valentine-themed virtual tasting classes on February 13th — ‘Most Decadent Valentine’s Day’ and ‘Valentine Cheese Board Making.’ There are plenty of other classes on offer throughout the month and it’s easy to gift by purchasing a gift card. Or to just sent your beloved some great cheeses, like the Pairing Essentials ($115) with Murray’s favorite cheeses and their perfect accoutrements or Great Taste Cooking ($65) for all the yummiest cooking cheeses to use for Valentine’s dinner.


Eat Ice Cream in Winter

Sugar Hill Creamery, the husband and wife-owned handmade ice cream shop in Harlem sends 4-pint packs nationwide now! Choose your own or send to you love. Flavors are amazing — Blueberry Cheesecake, Harlem Sweeties, Peach Cobbler and Apple Cider.

Lobster & Bone Marrow Tenderloin from Eleven Madison Park

I can't think of a more decadent meal that the multicourse feast from EMP. Their At Home Valentine’s Day menu for two features lobster pie and bone-marrow crusted beef tenderloin with vegetable sides such as kale and cumin-roasted carrots, a winter greens salad and a dark chocolate tart with passion fruit alongside a jar of EMP’s treasured granola. For every meal purchased, Eleven Madison Park donates 10 meals to New Yorkers experiencing food insecurity through their ongoing partnership with Rethink Food. A selection of wines and cocktails to share, such as a Cacao Manhattan and English Milk Punch, are also available. Pick-up is available on Mon/Feb 11-Thurs/Feb 14.

Steak from Cote

Cote is offering outdoor dining for 2-6ppl in their new Cote Cabanas and tent seating, which includes a $150/pp (plus tax + gratuity) prix fixe menu of “Steak and Eggs,” a Butcher’s Serenade (filet mignon, Nantucket Bay scallop, 45+ day dry-aged ribeye, American Wagyu, Japanese A5 wagyu ribeye and grand cru galbi), longevity noodles and soft serve with add-ons like lobster tail, caviar service and lamb chops. New Yorkers celebrating at home can order to-go packages for 2 ppl for $220 and a Princess Peach cocktail with Casa Dragones Blanco, Cocchi Rosa, Lemon, Peach Syrup and La Caravelle Rose Champagne while a ready-to-grill Chateaubriand & Caviar dinner for 2ppl is available for national shipping via Goldbelly.

Caviar and Chateaubriand at Cote, Photo Credit Gary He

Houseman at Home

For Valentine's Day, Houseman is packing up a special Houseman at Home meal. But if you prefer to venture out, they're partnering with their neighbor the Hugo hotel to offer insulation from both COVID-19 and frostbite while you eat. Email them for details.


Oysters at Isabelle's Osteria

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, Isabelle’s Osteria is offering a comforting menu of over-the-top favorites Friday - Sunday, available outdoors at the restaurant’s cozy heated tables. Specials include an appetizer of Wellfleet Oysters on the Half Shell with blood orange mignonette ($21), a decadent entrée of Lobster Fra Diavolo featuring split roasted lobster with spaghetti in sauce ($89, for two), and for dessert a Lemon Steam Pudding with citrus salad and mint ($12).

Jamon, Paella, and Cava from Mercado Little Spain

Whether you're solo-dining or celebrating with your significant other, José Andrés' Mercado Little Spain if offering two separate experiences this Valentine's Day. Reservations are available at Spanish Diner's open air patio under the Highline, for a special prix-fixe menu ($65/pp) including the José Taco with Jamon Iberico and caviar, Croquetas de Marisco, and grilled Iberico pork shoulder with pear cream and a red wine sauce. Finish the evening with a cava toast and Nuestro Cardenal, a crispy meringue filled with brandy whipped cream and chocolate ganache topped with raspberry chocolate.


If you're staying in, take a trip to Spain at home with their special menu for two ($120) featuring a bottle of Jose Cuvee Cava, Jamon Ibérico, Queso Manchego, Lobster Paella, and Tarta de Chocolate. Want to get extra romantic? Add a dozen red roses to the order for $45. Pre-order on TOCK.

Japanese Whiskey and Sushi Boxes from o.d.o

The Michelin-starred o.d.o restaurant will be offering a special, limited-edition, Valentine’s Day Gift Box for two. The box —made from the fibers of mulberry tree bark — is a collectible, reusable item, intricately designed and ideal for home celebrations. It's packed with a selection of A5 Wagyu beef jerky, snow crab, roast beef marinated in sake lees, deep-fried blowfish, and Spanish mackerel in sweet and sour sauce in addition to assorted nigiri sushi (10 pcs), a futomaki sushi roll, and a MUSE sake pastry box including five kinds of pastries utilizing Uragasumi Daiginjo sake lees.


The meal is accompanied by a set of Suntory whiskeys and Murakami × Perrier Limited Edition Bottles. In addition, the box comes with a music playlist curated by Academy award-winning composer and musician Ryuichi Sakamoto, an Oshima tsumugi coaster, Shoyeido incense and incense holder, and a Kimura glass.

Price: $1,500; order through o.d.o’s online ordering platform.


Happy Valentine's Day!!!!

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