It’s Valentines Day tomorrow so love must be in the air.

The history of this event is a little murky but it all leads back to one romantic Saint Valentinus, so I guess we have him to blame! Having started from a well meaning, loving gesture, the 14th February now means lots of stress in loads of ways and the parting of something like £800m in the UK ($17.6bn in the US!!). Now don’t get me wrong: it is a beautiful thing to express your love in whatever way you can, but sadly the commercialisation of each and every celebratory opportunity has overtaken the sentimentality. Have you seen the price of flowers during this week? and the cost of a meal? I say avoid convention and find a little something that is more meaningful and intimate than a dozen red roses.

Fleur

 

Romeo

 

Top of my list are these cute biscuits from biscuiteers.com. Fleur and Romeo are only a couple of characters from these clever online biscuit makers and for me are the perfect token to send.

Laduree heart

Alternatively, you could go classic and depend on Laduree. You can’t really go wrong with macarons for the girl in your life and with new flavours such as rose tea and cognac cream there is something for every taste. Or splash out on a giant heart shaped creation encasing rose petal cream with raspberries and lychee.

The religieuse

For the ultimate love token, Laduree pastry chef Vincent Lemains has created a limited edition choux pastry number made up of two halves: pink chocolate containing mini puff pastries with rose-tea cream on one side and dark chocolate with cognac cream stuffed pastries on the other. Joined together, they create one impactive version of the classic Religieuse French pastry. Quite why their pastry chef thought it clever to make a version of this for Valentines Day amuses me, since ‘Religieuse’ translates into ‘a nun’ and this pastry is supposed to represent a nun in her habit. Maybe Vincent has an ironic sense of humour.

Paul Young Val Choc

Master chocolatier Paul A Young has created a range of chocolates to perfectly match your loved one. There is of course the generic Love Potion which contains jasmine flower, ylang-ylang, geranium, vanilla and lavender. It strikes me as a strange mix for such a potion and in particular in a chocolate, but who knows? Apparently the choice for your man is either a black pepper & treacle caramel ganache truffle or a Cocoa nib Bourbon tobacco sour. Now call me cynical, but I can’t imagine what it says about you or indeed your man should you match them to these flavours. Panic not – he could choose to match you with a black pudding truffle with ginger biscuit & beer! The safer option by far are his signature brownies which get a romantic twist through the addition of chipotle chilli, sea salt and a sugar crust. This sweet and spicy combo with added heat seems so much more to suit my tastes in both chocolate and men!

Winner of worst idea for a food gift is a new aphrodisiac jam created especially by F Duerr & Sons in Manchester. This strawberry and Champagne jam has horny goat weed as its added ingredient which is an ancient Chinese natural male sexual stimulant. The serving suggestion for this jam is to ‘spread the love liberally on toast’…I won’t add my suggestions to this!

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