Author Archive

Let’s Toast to the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day

These bakeries, pubs and restaurants will have you celebrating on St. Patty’s Day, March 17.

Make It a Sweet Holiday with These Delicious Treats

Courtesy Clarkson Avenue Crumb Cake Company

Clarkson Avenue Crumb Cake Company

Say “cheers” to St. Patrick’s Day with a stout-flavored crumb cake from Clarkson Avenue Crumb Cake Company. One of the most delicious cakes I’ve had in recent times, the “Brooklyn Danny Boy” crumb cake is a holiday version of their Brooklyn recipe, available only in March. The base is a chocolate stout cake, piled high with Irish cream crumb topping, and demands to be eaten along with an Irish coffee (or a Guinness, if you prefer). Cakes are shipped free from their New York location.

Courtesy Chip City

Chip City

NYC’s Chip City has baked up a festive Irish cookie to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Stop by their locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens for a pack of colorful Lucky Charm cookies to please every leprechaun in the house. The Insta-perfect cereal cookies are filled with marshmallow fluff and topped with Lucky Charms. Order in advance online or pick them up in-person from March 15 – 20.

Leonelli Bakery (c) Emily Chan

Leonelli Bakery

Spanning two important heritages in New York City, Michelin-starred chef Jonathan Benno’s Leonelli Bakery is offering gorgeous Irish-flag inspired Italian Rainbow Cookies in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. The cookies are made with house-made raspberry jam wedged between layers of white, green and orange almond cake. You can order in advance online in larger quantities, or purchase the colorful confections in-shop.

Raise a Toast to the Irish

McSorley’s Old Ale House (c) Meryl Pearlstein

McSorley’s Old Ale House

There’s little discussion when it comes to choosing the most classic (and intriguing) Irish bar in Manhattan. McSorley’s Old Ale House in the East Village has a storied history dating from 1854, surviving all kinds of controversy from not allowing entry to women (with no women’s restrooms for many, many years) to continuously operating during Prohibition and avoiding closure by offering a snack of saltines with mustard, onions and cheese. The original precursor to today’s “Cuomo chips,” the offbeat snack is still on the menu as are the pub’s two original libations. Order a lager or an ale, and there you have it — that’s McSorley’s in a nutshell. You had to wait to get in even before the pandemic – plan to wait a long time to celebrate now.

Courtesy The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog

The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog

Founded by two talented Irish bartenders looking for a place to show off their cocktail wizardry, The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog in the Seaport District is more than a bar. It’s a place to dive into everything Irish with merchandise, beers, cocktails and great Irish food. The 19th-century setting is set up with dividers between tables to allow for safe, St. Patrick’s Day enjoyment. The décor will set the mood immediately – it’s classic Irish with green walls and wood ceilings and floors. Expect the usuals when it comes to lrish dishes from bangers and mash to fish and chips and Irish lamb stew.

The Galway Hooker

Be careful when you say you’re meeting up at the Hooker. Known to many as just that, The Galway Hooker is named for an Irish sailboat of the type typically found off the coast of Ireland in Galway Bay. A great spot to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, the West Village watering hole also offers the usual Irish pub grub like chicken sandwiches and burgers, but with a side of kicky Jameson fries.

Courtesy The Late Late

The Late Late

If you’ve ever watched Irish TV, the name of The Late Late will be immediately familiar. Recognizing Ireland’s “Late Late Show,” the world’s oldest late-night talk show, The Late Late is a Lower East Side staple for drinks and food. Modeled after an Irish residence rather than a typical Irish pub and offering a menu of more than 100 Irish whiskeys, The Late Late brings Irish-ness into dishes like bangers and mash. Order a burger topped with a choice of Jameson habanero, malt mayo or Guinness barbecue sauce to help you soak up all that liquid goodness.

Courtesy The Perfect Pub

The Perfect Pub

Times Square has had its share of Irish pubs over the years, but The Perfect Pub stands out for its conviviality, outdoor balcony and its exceptionally wide range of beer and whiskeys. The food menu goes beyond standard Irish pub grub like bangers and mash, beef stew, Shepherd’s Pie and burgers adding a range of global choices. If it’s available, try the Irish Cream cheesecake. While it would be remiss of you not to order a perfectly poured Guinness here, the pub (and its sister namesake in Midtown) has a range of 30 international brews on tap. Show your love to Times Square and this special Irish day as you share a pint with someone who might have roots in the Emerald Isle and possibly someone you’ve met late-night at a pub in Dingle.

Courtesy Donovan’s Pub

Donovan’s Pub

Welcoming Irish (and non-Irish) revelers to Woodside, Queens since 1966, Donovan’s Pub established a reputation early on for its notable burgers that were the perfect accompaniment to a pint of Guinness. Not a burger eater? No worries – there are plenty of sandwiches, steaks, and a very Irish Shepherd’s Pie to chow down on with your favorite brew.

The Greens (c) Meryl Pearlstein

The Greens on the Rooftop at Pier 17

Combine a view of the Manhattan skyline and Lady Liberty herself, the original green New York City monument, with a visit to the Seaport. At the aptly named Greens on the Rooftop at Pier 17, “go green” in a personal cabin where drinks and food will be served along with modern Irish music playing through the speakers inside. The cabin’s private TV screens will show scenic footage of the rolling hills of Ireland to transport you across the Pond. The menu serves up Ireland, too, with Shepherd’s Pie and Irish whiskey as well as Irish-spirited cocktails from Dante’s.

NYC Restaurant Week® To Go Is Extended through the End of February

Let’s call it what it is: the city’s popular prix fixe dining event, NYC Restaurant Week, should really be called NYC Restaurant Month. This year, in deference to the evolving outdoor dining, indoor dining and takeout/delivery situation, the newly renamed NYC Restaurant Week® To Go has been extended through February 28. You still have plenty of time to try out some of the fascinating cuisines featured in neighborhoods all over the city without ever leaving your home, all for the low price of $20.21 per meal.

No Passport Needed: Around the World

Marta (c) Peter Garritano

If you’ve been lamenting not dining at Union Square Hospitality Group’s popular restaurants, you’ll be happy that Union Square Café, Blue Smoke, Marta and Gramercy Tavern have all ponied up for Restaurant Week® To Go. Happily, now-closed Blue Smoke has two of their signature BBQ items available:  pulled pork and Texas beef brisket. Grab them while you can.

Courtesy Concord Hill

Simple but decidedly Brooklyn in inspo, Concord Hill brings you Chef Guy Kairi’s locally sourced, wild caught fish with a side of truffled fingerling potatoes. Ask for one of the New American restaurant’s signature cocktail infusions to go.

Courtesy UN Plaza Grill

Midtown East’s glamorous and kosher UN Plaza Grill is a popular stop for UN delegates as well as neighborhood residents. Diners can choose either the Plaza Burger with homemade BBQ sauce or chicken paillard with a Mediterranean couscous chopped salad. Please note, the restaurant is closed on Friday and Saturday until dinner.

Courtesy Lekka Burger

Chef Amanda Cohen’s plant-powered burger restaurant, Lekka Burger, has just what you need for settling in with your boo on a snowy evening. Curated from the TriBeCa restaurant’s menu favorites, you’ll get a signature Lekka burger, broccolini Caesar salad, French fries and a milkshake in your choice of flavor.

Courtesy CS DAK by Cuisine Solutions

CS DAK by Cuisine Solutions, New York’s first Dark Assembly Kitchen showcasing sous vide cuisine, is partnering with City Harvest for Restaurant Week® to Go. Under the direction of Chef Sean Wheaton, the team will donate a meal to City Harvest for every meal sold, helping to support the organization’s work rescuing food for New Yorkers in need. CS DAK is very generous to you as well, offering a culinary trip around the world with five chef-curated choices including roasted cod, petit beef tender, chicken breast, Mexican-style tamarind glazed pork ribs and Berkshire pork belly, all with a range of creative sides.

I’m in the Mood for Italian

Courtesy Mario’s Restaurant

Mario’s Restaurant on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx is as Italian as you can get. The 102-year-old Belmont fave serves up chicken cutlet parmigiana, chicken Francese, veal cutlet parmigiana, veal marsala, linguini with white or red clam sauce, ravioli, or fillet of sole Napoletana or oreganata, all with appropriate sides or salad. Ask for a bottle of Chianti to accompany.

Leonelli Restaurant (c) Emily chan

Leonelli Restaurant & Bar will keep you cozy with cuisine from Michelin-starred chef Jonathan Benno’s (Lincoln Ristorante) trattoria in the Evelyn Hotel. A polenta baguette, eggplant parmesan or lasagna verde Bolognese, and almond biscotti make a great spread while you tune into another season of The Crown. Or with this, you might want to consider re-watching The Sopranos.

Courtesy Gran Morsi

Tribeca’s Gran Morsi is offering one of the most extensive Italian selections for Restaurant Week with pizza, nine pastas and many contorni. Try the unusual busiate cacio e pepe or the spaghetti limone for something you might not find elsewhere. For your side, polpette or truffle arancini are a must.

So Many Asian Cuisines

Courtesy Kimika

Chef Christine Lau’s new Japanese-Italian fusion restaurant, Kimika, offers a Menchi Katsu version of a burger combining 30-day dry aged beef, fried mozzarella, shaved cabbage and pickled onion, served with a side of duck fat-fried potatoes. Pretend you’re sipping at the NoLita bar with innovative alcoholic and zero-proof cocktails like “Not a Rum and Coke” with rum, amaro, sherry and Prosecco; or the zero-proof “Basil Cobbler,” a combo of Seedlip Spice, basil, cranberry and other flavors.

Courtesy Tiger Lily Kitchen

Tiger Lily Kitchen highlights Michelle Morgan’s health-conscious, gluten-free Asian dishes.  The soon-to-be-permanent restaurant features appetizers including vegetable summer rolls, Japanese kabocha squash soup, or tofu bites with chili-spiced garlic chips. Mains offer a choice of lemongrass roast chicken, grilled Koji marinated salmon or vegetarian coconut curry with tofu.

Courtesy Torien

As close as you can be to Japan now, Tokyo export Torien in NoHo is offering a range of yakitori bento boxes including Yakitori- Soboro Bento with sauteed minced chicken, nori seaweed and egg; an all-veggie Yaki-Yasai Bento with Torien’s custom spice blend; or a Grilled Vegan Vegetables Box. Sides are a choice of toridashi chicken soup or vegetable broth. The yakitori counter’s skewers are prepared over a custom grill uskng charcoal imported from Japan.

Courtesy Little Chef Little Café

From Long Island City, Little Chef Little Café’s three-course meal includes a starter beverage choice of housemade iced ginger tea, basil lemonade or rosemary limeade. Highlights on Chef Diana Manalang’s Filipino menu are the adventurous Sinigang, a Filipino tamarind-based soup with tomatoes, potatoes, tofu, green beans and bok choy; or a rice bowl with garlic fried rice and topped with chicken adobo, pork adobo or vegan Ginataang (vegetables sauteed in coconut milk and topped with spicy pickled pineapple). Dessert is a traditional Filipino comfort treat, Biko, a coconut rice cake.

Plan an Anytime Romantic Celebration at Home with These Great Choices

This year is an especially good time to keep the Valentine’s Day momentum going with romance and love.

Have Brunch in Your Pajamas

Marky’s Caviar - Courtesy Marky’s

Chef Budda Lo presents HUSO’s Champagne Brunch, from the speakeasy hidden behind third-generation caviar purveyor Marky’s Caviar. With a breakfast spread of private stock caviar from the group’s own domestic aqua farm, poached eggs, croissants, elderflower Bellini’s and Valrhona chocolate-covered strawberries, you’ll be motivated to stay in PJ’s the entire day.

Bring on the Aphrodisiacs

Courtesy Grand Army

Your at-home Champagne indulgence doesn’t end there. After a post-brunch interlude and perhaps a nap on the sofa, Grand Army brings on more bubbly and presents the consummate aphrodisiac, oysters. Part of a seafood indulgence, Blue Point oysters come with mignonette sauce, littleneck clams, shrimp cocktail and a pair of lobster rolls. Add a finishing chocolate note with creamy chocolate cremeux for dessert with strawberries. Book in advance but pick up your shellfish during the day so the oysters can be freshly shucked.

Courtesy Red Hook Lobster Pound Facebook

There are no oysters in Red Hook Lobster Pound’s seafood soiree but you’ll get plenty of shellfish love with the Brooklyn seafood shack’s Lovester feast. Expect the full New England treatment with this extravaganza — two cooked lobsters (crackers included), mussels, clams, Dungeness crab, shrimp, sausage, corn and potatoes. Add a choice of a crab or shrimp cocktail, a bottle of William Hill Chardonnay and two mini chocolate mousse cakes and you have an instant trip to Maine.

Courtesy Fornino

A “Pizza Love Fest” might be more to your liking, and Fornino in Greenpoint has it ready for your home enjoyment. Pretty and classically Italian, the feast includes a cheese and fruit plate, salad, two mini pizzas, tiramisu, strawberries and a bottle of wine. Brooklyn knows pizza, and Fornino does it right.

Courtesy o.d.o

Michelin-starred kaiseki restaurant, o.d.o transports you to Japan with a special, limited-edition Gift Box for two. The creation of talented Chef Hiroko Odo, the box itself is an intricately designed collectible, hand-made from the fibers of mulberry tree bark known for their strength and flexibility. The elaborate kaiseki meal features a selection of A5 Wagyu beef jerky, snow crab, roast beef marinated in sake lees, blowfish and Spanish mackerel in addition to assorted nigiri sushi, futomaki and a sake pastry box. The meal is accompanied by a set of Suntory whiskeys and Murakami × Perrier limited edition bottles. Enhancing the meal’s Japanese sensibility, the box comes with a music playlist curated by Academy Award-winning composer and musician Ryuichi Sakamoto plus Japanese-designed coasters, incense, incense holder and glass.

Courtesy Sushi Noz

You won’t be lost in translation with Michelin-starred Sushi Noz’s DIY Temaki hand roll kit, even if it doesn’t come with Bill Murray-endorsed Suntory whiskey. Meticulously styled with Japanese attention to detail and precise instructions for preparation, the kit includes seasoned rice and sheets of seaweed served with heart-shaped containers of Japanese uni and house-cured ikura. A long-stemmed rose from a Japanese florist graces the package. To ensure absolute freshness, the kit must be booked in advance on Tock for pick-up in person at the restaurant.

Dessert Any Time

Courtesy Chocolate Fondue Box

One of the prettiest dessert kits offered, Relish Catering’s Chocolate Fondue Box has everything you need for an indulgent and fun fondue experience. You’ll get a fondue pot with long-stemmed strawberries, red-velvet-rose cakes, butterscotch fudge sparkle pops, rice crispy treats, hazelnut-dark chocolate biscotti, candy hearts and other romantic dip-ins.

Courtesy Black Tap Soho

You’ll have a chance to try out your own pastry artistry, too, thanks to Black Tap Soho. In partnership with Magnolia Bakery, the restaurant-soda shop’s Red Velvet Cake Shake Kit includes all the essentials to make two Red Velvet Cake Shakes. The kit includes red velvet cake batter shakes (pre-mixed), cups with vanilla frosting and sprinkles, red and white sprinkles, two slices of red velvet cake, chocolate sauce and cherries. If you’re feeling rather lazy, you can opt for the photo-ready Classic Red Velvet Cake Batter Shake, pre-made with whipped cream, chocolate drizzle and a cherry on top. No preparation required.

Courtesy Senza Gluten Cafe & Bakery

Greenwich Village’s Senza Gluten Cafe & Bakery will deliver a gluten-free and equally sensuous basket with heart-shaped shortbread cookies and red velvet cupcakes filled with chocolate ganache. The basket continues the chocolate theme with bakery favorites dairy-free chocolate crinkle cookies, chocolate walnut mini cubbies and classic chocolate chip cookies.

Courtesy MR All Day

You can pick up Pastry Chef Camari Mick’s takeaway treats at MR All Day, the Musket Room’s pop-up cafe operating out of a vintage 1962 International Harvester van. It’s worth the trip to Nolita just to see this – but go early, rising chef Mick’s treats sell out quickly. For the holiday season, he’s offering bonbons, macarons, love potions, Tahitian vanilla and mocha mousse and more.

Courtesy Mochidoki SoHo

Mochidoki SoHo offers a special holiday collection including pretty-in-pink Black Forest made with cherry chocolate mochi, Chantilly cream, dark chocolate gateau and dried Morello cherries. The Japanese mochi range has been further enhanced with hazelnut Rocher, cinnamon mocha, chocolate strawberry and limited-edition cherry chocolate mochi, a delicate and artistic sweet with black cherry and vanilla ice cream swirled with dark chocolate chips.

Courtesy Angelina Paris NYC

With its very-French flair, recent import Angelina Paris NYC offers pure romance in the form of a pastry “Love Letter.” The elegant red-and-white yogurt mousse pastry is shaped like an envelope and includes a creamy vanilla, blackcurrant berry, raspberry, financier biscuit and crispy white chocolate.

New York City Restaurants Open Indoor Dining Just in Time for Valentine’s Day

Outdoor dining resumes in New York City on February 12, giving you another option if dining outside is too cold for you. But, please note, outdoor dining, indoor dining, takeout and delivery options vary by restaurant and can change based on weather and other factors. Be sure to call ahead to confirm your choice of indoor or outdoor seating.

Born in the U.S.A.

Courtesy Brooklyn Chop House

For Valentine’s Day, Brooklyn Chop House will have you seeing red in a good way with their over-the-top Red Velvet with a Side of Red Velvet special. The menu begins and ends with a Red Velvet creation, first a Red Velvet Frozé and then an oversized slice of Red Velvet Cake. Your dinner is equally colorful, in a figurative sense – order the L.S.D. (Lobster, Steak, Duck), a decadent array of Salt & Pepper Lobster, Ginger & Garlic lobster, dry-aged Porterhouse steak and Peking Duck served with lobster and chicken fried rice.

From New York to the Continent

Courtesy Socarrat Paella Bar

In Spain, Cava is the beverage of romance and Socarrat Paella Bar pairs it with heart-shaped churros dipped in chocolate. You’ll also tuck into a four-course dinner with a shareable Campero board of Spanish charcuterie followed by a tapas selection of red prawns, croquetas and datiles and duck or lobster and seafood paella.

Courtesy Mercado Little Spain

Take a stroll along the High Line and pause to look at the Hudson River and the magnificent New York skyline. Exit at 30th Street for José Andrés’ Spanish Diner at Mercado Little Spain, a second option for those who equate Valentine’s Day with a trip to high-spirited Spain. On the open-air patio, you’ll be treated a Valentine’s Day prix fixe dinner highlighted by the José taco with jamón Ibérico and caviar, croquetas de marisco, and grilled Ibérico pork shoulder. A Cava toast is the perfect precursor to the double-chocolate Nuestro Cardenal, a crispy meringue topped with raspberry chocolate and filled with chocolate ganache.

Courtesy Extra Virgin

West Village favorite Extra Virgin has created an aphrodisiacal Valentine’s Day menu with a dose of whimsy. The Mediterranean-inspired dinner includes hors d’oeuvres like shrimp and Jonah crab cocktail and foie gras mousse and the aptly named Love Bird, a whole roasted jerk chicken to share. As everyone knows, chocolate is de rigueur on Valentine’s Day, and you’ll have a mix of two of the best for dessert with the white and dark chocolate mousse parfait. Playing off the restaurant’s somewhat-ambiguous name, Extra Virgin is selling a limited-edition “Extra Love” red t-shirt. Buy a large so you can cozy up in bed after dinner.

Courtesy The Mark Restaurant

Just steps from Central Park, The Mark Restaurant’s green-and-white striped tent takes on a red tinge with a prix fixe Valentine’s Day menu of Jean-Georges favorites. At the tony Upper East Sider, tuna tartare with caviar is a perfect beginning to sea bass or grilled NY strip. The Linzer tart is as delicious as it is pretty – a heart-shaped sweet finish to a wonderful meal with your sweetie. You won’t need to order a bottle of wine – the sommelier will take care of the perfect pairings.

Courtesy Frevo

Chef Franco Sampogna welcomes you to the re-opening of Frevo for Valentine’s Day. Unusual and romantic, the restaurant is hidden behind an art gallery. It’s like entering Oz — you walk through a painting to find the dining room where a Valentine’s Day playlist sets the tone for Chef’s luxe multi-course dining fête. Artistically plated dishes include lobster cappuccino with Kristal caviar, celery root tagliatelle and black truffle, and quail with foie gras, All ingredients are seasonal, sustainable and locally sourced. The evening’s wine experience is brought to you by sommelier Quentin Vauleon, named Best Young Sommelier in France of 2017.

Courtesy Nice Matin

At Nice Matin, Chef Eric Starkman serves up a special three-course prix fixe menu in their heated, streetside café. The Provençale menu offers starters including lobster bisque, farro risotto and smoked salmon. Entrées appeal to all dining preferences with Filet Mignon, duet of lamb, bucatini Mentonnaise or scallops à la Marseillaise. Dessert is pure rouge decadence: Red Velvet cake with raspberry purée and dark chocolate glaze.

Pacific Delights

Courtesy Nami Nori

Temaki sensation Nami Nori invites you to its outdoor room for a special Temaki Set. The menu of high-level taco-like creations includes five of Chef’s most popular: toro kama with yuzu kosho chimichurri, grilled akamutsu, avocado with pickled goji berries, X.O. scallop with tobiko and lemon, and tuna poke with crispy shallots. A caviar layer dip makes an indulgent appetizer. Drawing on Japan’s cherry-blossom heritage, the meal is finished with a Sakura parfait, a Valentine-pink confection of cherry blossom mousse, hibiscus gêlée, elderflower panna cotta and sponge cake; and “The Cherry Bomb” cherry-red cocktail made with Crémant sparkling wine, cherry sage cordial and soju.

Courtesy 15 East @ Tocqueville

French-Japanese hybrid 15 East @ Tocqueville debuts its first Valentine’s Day menu with a spread to impress. Created by Chef Marco Moreira, the three-course prix fixe meal includes Hudson Valley foie gras custard, butter-poached Maine lobster, duo of Wagyu-beef cheeks and strip loin, and dry aged hay-smoked Magret duck breast. You can choose one of four desserts including baked Fuji apple with passion parfait. If you’d prefer to order strictly Japanese, the Chef’s Sashimi & Sushi Omakase is also available. The red “Enzo and Valentina” with Nolet’s Silver Gin, Campari, St. Germain, Cocchi Rossa, prickly pear and lemon juice is your Valentine’s Day cocktail. Adding to the romance, the inviting (and dimly lit) outdoor space is draped in a sheer pink overhang.

Your Valentine’s Day Gift Guide for Fans of New York City

Tours and Books

Steinway Factory experience - Courtesy New York Adventure Club

Here’s a way to share your love of New York with tours you can take from your living room. Do you have a love of the piano? Sign up for the Steinway Factory experience. Are you curious about how the subways came to be? Become a savvy straphanger learning about the city’s transit history. Did you know about New York City’s various evolutions as the Center of Jazz in the US? The diverse virtual tours from the New York Adventure Club explore the special nooks and crannies of NYC. An egift card is your ticket to adventure. This might just be the start of a brand- new love affair.

Courtesy John Donohue's All the Restaurants in New York

Brooklyn-based artist John Donohue has created the perfect gift for a foodie, particularly one who’s pining for the pre-pandemic NYC dining experience. Donohue’s signed, limited-edition prints of many of New York’s favorite restaurants are a creative tribute to the city’s dining establishments. They’re also a feel-good gift: you’ll be supporting the city’s badly hurt restaurant industry with your purchase. Fifty percent of print-sale profits go to the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund.  If you’re as obsessed with these illustrations as I am, John’s book, All the Restaurants in New York, will look fabulous on your coffee table, too.

Courtesy Betsy Polivy

Walking Manhattan Sideways by Betsy Polivy is a compilation of the author’s years of chronicling the small businesses on Manhattan’s side streets. The beautifully photographed book will warm your heart as you read about the entrepreneurs who make up the city’s independent and enduring character. The book is a love letter to the melting pot that is New York, and a vicarious trip through the Big Apple.

Cakes, Cookies, Chocolates and More

Courtesy Bake Me A Wish! New York

Celebrate your love this Valentine’s Day with a gourmet, heart-shaped cake from Manhattan’s Bake Me A Wish!  New York. Available in two sizes, the larger ten-inch cake can be customized with the name of your special someone or a very personal romantic message.

Courtesy Levain Bakery

In time for Valentine’s Day, Levain Bakery is finally shipping their Two Chip Chocolate Chip cookie, a decadent take on a classic chocolate chip cookie sans nuts and brimming with semi-sweet and dark chocolate chips. You can skip waiting in the bakery line for your fresh treats:  these oversized cookies are baked for immediate shipment and are packed in a whimsical blue gift box. If you sweetie drools over Levain’s original Chocolate Chip Walnut or Oatmeal Raisin flavors, you can order those, too.

Courtesy MarieBelle Chocolates

Indulge your sweet tooth with MarieBelle Chocolates’ artisanal ganache collections. Each ganache is artfully decorated with a Valentine’s Day design that tells a beautiful love story. Special for the holiday, the MarieBelle Valentine Truffle Box is an assortment of European-style truffles in dark chocolate, matcha and Champagne. The packaging, designed by renowned fashion illustrator Izak Zenou, is a Valentine’s Day collectible. Champagne is always better when it’s wrapped in chocolate.

Courtesy Bushwick Farm

Is your honey sweet, salty or spicy? Bushwick Farm has foodie gifts to sass up your holiday menu for any taste preference. Born in a test kitchen in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, Bees Knees honey comes in a delightful gift set as do the company’s Trees Knees maples and Weak Knees srirachas. Go for the ultimate buzz with the Threes Knees Spicy Trio for a signature tasting experience.

Courtesy Coffee Project New York

The coffee, candles and macarons gift box from Long Island City’s Coffee Project New York puts a coffee-centric finishing touch on an at-home romantic meal. Light the coffee-inspired candle, pour a taste of three coffees (or just one if you prefer) and linger over strawberry verbena macarons from Le Petit Paris, a French bakery also in Long Island City. Maybe pour a spot of Cognac for an added kick.

And Now for Something Completely Different

Newtown Creek Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility - Courtesy Open House New York

Tired of roses and Champagne? On February 14, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection and Open House New York host a virtual Valentine’s Day tour of the city’s largest sewage plant, the Newtown Creek Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility, where wastewater from storm drains and toilets and sinks of more than one million New Yorkers is cleaned each day in a complex system, including eight giant stainless steel digester eggs. This tour sells out every year, so you’d better hop online NOW. For 2021 it’s virtual – but, next year, you’ll want to reserve the in-person event as soon as it goes on sale. Seriously.

Renew Your Vows - Courtesy Times Square Alliance

Times Square Alliance invites couples each year to renew their vows on Valentine’s Day on the iconic red stairs in Duffy Square. This year’s event is a bit different. Only a few couples will be able to participate live due to social distancing requirements, but you can show your love online by registering for a virtual space. It’s still the ultimate NYC way to avow your commitment to each other anew.

DUMBO in Brooklyn - courtesy Dumbo Improvement District

For a professional holiday photo memory, free of charge, head to DUMBO in Brooklyn on Valentine’s Day weekend. No, it’s not to grab the influencer shot you see all over Instagram with the Manhattan Bridge in the background. A Heart Sculpture, designed and fabricated by Bednark Studios, has been installed on the Empire Stores patio, creating a perfect picture frame. Strike a romantic pose in the middle of the lipstick-red art piece for a photo via the Self Portrait Project, courtesy of the Dumbo Improvement District. From 5-9pm on Saturday and Sunday photos will be projected on the Manhattan Bridge at dimensions of 65 by 40 feet. A link to digital photos will be available on the @dumbobrooklyn Instagram account on February 20. To keep you warm, you’ll also receive commemorative Valentine’s Day hand warmers.

Drink Up with Special Valentine’s Day Botanicals, Wines and Cocktails at Home

Valentine’s Day is a time for love, hearts and, of course, great beverages.  Here are a few intriguing choices that also make great gifts.

Restaurant Faves and Canned Cocktails

Courtesy Dante

Drink your berries and chocolates in the comfort of your living room with Dante’s limited- edition Valentine’s libations, “The Rose” (Lillet Rosé, Raspberry Eau de Vie, raspberry, rose) and “the Heart of Gold” (Rémy Martin VSOP, Cocchi Torino, Oloroso, chocolate bitters, cocoa). The team at this Greenwich Village Italian has assembled aphrodisiacal cocktail kits with bottles of these two special cocktails along with sensual additions like gold-rimmed martini glasses, illustrated coasters, matches, a hand-poured Negroni candle and a specially curated playlist.

Courtesy Ocean Prime NYC

Ocean Prime NYC offers their fizzy favorite, “Berries and Bubbles,” (Belvedere Citrus Vodka, Grand Marnier, marinated berries, fresh lemon and Domaine Chandon Brut) and a spicy “Prime Manhattan” with Woodford Reserve Private Selection, Carpano Antica Vermouth, Amaro Nonino, Rosemary Grapefruit Peppercorn Bitters to set the mood for your Valentine’s Day evening. The attractively designed kits for two are one-and-done with supplies for shaking and serving the cocktails, chocolate-dipped strawberries, a recipe card and a Valentine.

Princess Peach at Cote - (c) Gary He

Michelin-starred Cote pairs a meat-centric feast with a cocktail indulgence in their Valentine’s Day to-go- package. The Asian-inflected steakhouse menu includes an indulgent selection 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. A sparkling accompaniment, the pale pink “Princess Peach” is an aromatic blend of Casa Dragones Blanco, Cocchi Rosa, lemon, peach syrup and La Caravelle Rosé Champagne.

Courtesy Social Hour Cocktails

Brooklyn-based Social Hour Cocktails gives you three fresh choices for your Valentine’s Day cocktail hour. Created by bartenders Julie Reiner and Tom Macy, the cocktails in a can are all New York in origin. The “Gin & Tonic” and “Whiskey Mule” are made with premium local spirits from the New York Distilling Company, also from Brooklyn. The more adventurous “Pacific Spritz” is crafted with ingredients sourced from the Finger Lakes for an unusual blend of Aperitivo liqueur and rosé with passionfruit and grapefruit flavors.

Gift a Lesson in Becoming a Sommelier or Mixologist

Courtesy Kevin Zraly's Windows on the World Wine School

Are you and your significant other secretly yearning to be a sommelier? Join a wine class led by one of the foremost wine educators in the world, Kevin Zraly, creator of the world-famous Windows on the World Wine School. Your evening destination on February 15 is California for a day-after Valentine’s Day red-wine immersion. The One Hour California Red Wine Expert Class is offered through The School, now online. You’ll learn about the state’s various wine regions as you sip and swirl a Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, a Napa Merlot and a Zinfandel. If the spirit so moves, there are three more classes available to complete your pre-somm education.

Courtesy Sotheby’s Wine

To prepare for the class, I suggest a visit to Sotheby’s Wine, New York online or in person. Even last-minute, the experts at the auction house’s elegant wine shop are adept at sourcing whatever vintage you might want or need. They’ll also help create the  perfect dessert and wine pairing for a romantic finale to your evening. Try the lovely Canard Duchene Brut Rosé NV 3 for its fresh strawberry notes, or splurge on Chateau Rieussec 2015 sauterne, bright with oranges, lemons and strawberries.

Katie Sips Cocktail Box (c) Katie Auth

If mixed cocktails are more your preference, NYC-based bartender Katie Auth will create a boozy bespoke evening at home from Katie Sips.  Katie’s Valentine’s Day program is an interactive, online class built around your choice of drinks. If you don’t have a preference for a particular cocktail, Katie will inspire your inner mixologist with her cocktail creativity. A cocktail kit is provided in advance. You’ll get everything you need for a perfect beverage —  syrups, garnishes, mixers and more – except the liquor. How about a Valentine-appropriate “Turkish Fizz” made with Hendrick’s Gin, lemon juice, pistachio-rosewater orgeat syrup, egg whites and soda, garnished with dehydrated rose buds; or a retro “Pink Lady,” also made with gin and egg whites but enhanced with applejack and a few dashes of grenadine.  Both are pretty and pink and deceptively powerful.

Continue your “Dry January” Resolution with a “Calm February” Valentine’s Day

Courtesy Proteau

Red is the color of love, especially dark red. Proteau botanical beverages are dark-red, non-alcoholic drinks in a beautiful cut-glass bottle. Created in New York City from extensive research into Italian amaro, fortified wines and vermouth, and enhanced by years of cocktail creativity at noted speakeasy PDT, cocktail master and Proteau creator John deBary removed the alcohol but left an intriguing blend of botanicals that is every bit as intoxicating as their alcoholic inspirations. For Valentine’s Day,” zero-proof Ludlow Red” is a balanced concoction of bitter, floral, and fruity with notes of blackberry, chrysanthemum, black pepper and dandelion. “Rivington Spritz” offers a sparkling version that is refreshing and bright with hints of hibiscus and chamomile flowers, Chinese rhubarb, gentian, strawberries and a touch of artisanal vinegar. The two-pack gift set is a refreshing gift for those days when alcohol is not on the menu.

Planning a trip to NYC?