Valentine's Day Roundup: CT Gifts, Eats & Vacations for Your Loved One

April Guilbault

“My love for you is like a red, red rose” said the venerable Robert Burns, but maybe, just maybe it’s like a truffle making class or a sassy, classy Valentine cocktail. Every love is different, right? Valentine’s Day typically bubbles over with all things red, pink and sparkly. Boxed chocolates abound (some left in the box, half-bitten into) and romantic dinners are de rigueur. But, as with everything in life, it’s good to mix it up a bit to keep things fresh-dare to be different!This year, maybe try something new with your Valentine that will create a memory for years to come; take a cooking class together, go to a theme dinner, try a salt cave, stay overnight at a local, romantic hotel. Sometimes, a mini-vacation in your own backyard can be the most fun and deliciously decadent. So start with a red, red rose and branch out from there...

Book-A-Cook

Book-A-Cook (www.bookacookct.com). So, you don’t feel like heading out to a restaurant and maybe you aren’t the best cook in the world, so what’s a person to do on Valentine’s day when some big wooing is in order? Bring a skilled cook into your home and let them work the magic! Book-A-Cook is a fabulous service based in Fairfield that will tackle any of your culinary needs. Want to throw a Cupid’s cocktail party? Create an intimate dinner for two that caters to certain diet restrictions? Or better yet, and this is the gift that keeps on giving (ask any cook)...let them stock the pantry of your Valentine with items for a weeks-worth of meals. Talk about scoring a home-run on the considerate scale. If you book before February 5th, you will receive a 10% discount for your Valentine plans. So, go...book that cook!

Delamar Hotel

Delamar Hotel (500 Steamboat Rd., Greenwich and 275 Old Post Rd., Southport)-Do something completely decadent this year...go on a mini stay-cation. Who needs to travel even out of the state when you can indulge in your own backyard? Both Delamar hotels are hosting special packages for you and your love so that you can do just that. Enjoy these Month of Love Packages - Delamar Greenwich which features overnight accommodations for two, drinks upon arrival, champagne in your room, a “rose turndown” (do we ever really get sick of those? No.), continental breakfast and a couples photo shoot with Classic Kids Photography (prices start at $239 per night). Delamar Southport, complete with dinner for two at Artisan Restaurant and private dance lessons at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio (prices start at $240 per night). Enjoy your trip without taking one! www.delamargreenwich.comand www.delamarsouthport.com

Westport Inn 

Westport Inn (1595 Post Road East, Westport)-Go West, young man! And woman! Head to the Westport Inn for a wee getaway that will leave you relaxed, well-fed and blissed-out from celebrating Cupid’s big day. Offered until February 20th is the For Love and Chocolate Package, which includes an overnight stay, a bottle of champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries delivered to your room and dinner for two at Bistro B, the Inn’s new restaurant. The sexy grown-up s’more on the dessert menu sounds worth the trip alone. Prices start at $190. Be sure to book soon. www.westportinn.com

Luxe Wine and Cocktails

Luxe Wine and Cocktails (190 Main St., Westport) Belly up to the bar with someone you love (or, at least, like a whole lot) on Sunday Feb. 9th! At this delightful little corner spot in Westport, you can enjoy a special wine, cocktail and chocolate tasting event that is sure to tickle your tastebuds. Luxe is partnering with Fritz Knipschildt of Chocopologie to bring you a hand-chosen assortment of fine chocolates coupled with Luxe selected fine wines and special craft cocktails. From truffles to bubbles, taste to your heart’s content. Reservations are required (events at 1, 4 and 7pm). Dave@luxewinebar.com

Chocomize.com

Chocomize.com: Your love is allergic to peanuts. His love adores macadamia nuts. Her love is a freak for Himalayan Pink Sea Salt. If finding *just* the right chocolate with *just* the right ingredients is your mission, then here is your answer: create your own. At this website, you choose your chocolate (milk, dark, white), choose the shape (bar, heart) and then top it with any of 90 different ingredients, ranging from nuts to spices, flowers and messages. While we haven’t yet tried any of these creations, they certainly seem worth the exploration, especially for those very particular Valentine’s out there. www.chocomize.com

Saugatuck Craft Butchery

Valentine’s Day celebrations and meat cleavers...the latest horror movie? Nahhh! At Saugatuck Craft Butchery (580 Riverside Ave., Westport), you and your love can master some new “Cut & Cook” skills together this year...butchering and cooking! On February 11 from 7-9:30pm, get some hands-on experience with butchery basics and then learn how to cook that perfect, sustainably-raised steak at the Craft cafe. $200 per couple includes an appetizer, entree, dessert and glass of wine. On your way home, you can pick up a copy of “My Bloody Valentine”. For reservations, call 203-226-6328.

Chocolate Lab @ The J House

Chocolate Lab @ The J House,  1114 E Putnam Ave., Riverside) Located in the chic and sustainable boutique hotel J House, there is a place where science meets Willy Wonka: the Chocolate Lab. Bringing fair trade cocoa beans from their own farm in West Africa, the Lab team produces single-origin, artisinal chocolate to take you on a beans-to-pleasure experience. For the upcoming holiday, you are invited into their laboratory for the best kind of science ever during their Chocolate Lovers Weekend. From kids’ Valentine’s cookie making classes to a chocolate truffle and champagne class for adults, everyone can all learn. Pre-fix dinners, a chocolate brunch and Chocolate Lovers’ hotel specials also abound. You’ve never had so much fun in a lab. http://choc-lab.com/experience

SEXY Wines:

SEXY Wines: Just in time for Valentine’s Day comes a wine tasting event not to be missed!  On Wednesday February 12 from 5-8pm, try SEXY wines poured by award winning winemaker António Maçanita.  SEXY wines are a fun fusion of old and new- they mix fashionable grape varietals with local Portuguese grape varietals.  The Sparkling Rosé is the perfect treat for Valentine’s day with its delicious taste and chic bottle.  SEXY also makes a white, rose, and red.  The free event will take place at Turnpike Wines in Fairfield, CT.

Saltana Cave

Saltana Cave (590 Danbury Rd., Ridgefield). Usually on this site, we are extolling the use of specialty salts to complement your cooking endeavors and we all know that Himalayan Pink Salt is cropping up everywhere from serving slabs to being sprinkled on luxurious chocolates. But today, we are talking about it for YOU. Try surrounding yourself with it and experience something called “Speleotherapy”: salt cave therapy. There is a salt cave in cute little Ridgefield where you can sit on zero gravity chairs (tap into your inner Sandra Bullock), listen to soothing music in a room that is warmed to about 70 degrees. With the current polar vortex, that alone sounds amazing, no? The room is head-to-toe made out of pink, glowing salt and a starry sky floats above you. Salt therapy is supposedly good for allergies, asthma, colds, and flu to name a few ailments because salt is a known anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral element. Instead of adding some spice to your holiday, add some salt. www.saltanacave.com

Collyer Catering and Gourmet Market

Collyer Catering and Gourmet Market (37 Saugatuck Ave.,Westport) Take a seat at the Collyer communal table and feast with your Valentine on fabulously local fare. That is the challenge they have given themselves...to source everything on the menu within 150 miles of their adorable and welcoming Westport shop. At their Love Your Farmer dinner, a four-course dinner is presented and all guests are encouraged to linger and and mingle with their fellow foodies. From veggies and fish to pork and truffles, a unique dining experience is certainly on the menu. Prices are $80/pp or $150 per couple, BYOB. RSVP to:frontdesk@collyercatering.com Stay tuned for their Whiskey Dinner-an ode to St. Pat-coming in March!

Indulge by Mersene

Indulge by Mersene (24 Railroad Place, Westport) At this quaint little shop that is jam-packed with goodies, Marsene is hosting a Valentine’s book signing in her true Southern style on February 9th from 1-5pm. Pamela Einarsen Photography will be holding mini photo sessions ($135), Hearts In Nature by Sally Fine will be for sale and Rosie’s of New Canaan will be providing refreshments.  Add to that, Mersene’s signature gift baskets will be for sale and brimming with everything from champagne glasses and Prosecco to massage oils, chocolates and fire sticks that shoot color when you place them in the fireplace (prices range from $30-$300). Your Valentine will be happy you Indulged. www.indulgebymersene.com

Marcia Selden Catering

Marcia Selden Catering (65 Research Dr., Stamford) To share a meal with someone that you love can be one of life’s greatest pleasures and certainly time well spent. And then, if that meal utilizes a slew of ingredients that are known aphrodisiacs...watch out! Oysters...a touch of cinnamon...basil...ginger...shrimp...pine nuts...pineapple. I won’t divulge what magic these ingredients can work on a body, you’ll just have to see for yourself. Marcia Selden caterers can help you construct the perfect meal and one that you will certainly remember. Even the morning after. www.marciaselden.com