Forget the Flowers, Here are Five Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Foodies

I don’t need to tell you Valentine’s Day is coming, a simple visit to your nearest pharmacy will suffice. Whether you are in a relationship or not, this holiday is capitalistically designed so that you are probably thinking of getting someone something, whether they are a significant other or your best friend.

On my end, I like to take Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to be creative and encourage you to gift beyond the classics which are expected. I’ve compiled five top choices below to spark some ideas.

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  1. Try The World Box ($198/year) – Have you ever been obsessed with something you have not even been able to try? That’s how I feel about Try The World. Still, I can tell it’s amazing and I can’t wait to try it. Try The World is basically the best option for when you want to travel the world and eat all the food, but you can’t afford a plane ticket. You get a box every two months and each box features gourmet foods from one new country. cast-iron-fondue-set
  2. Cast Iron Fondue Set ($39.95) – Melted cheese at home? Whenever you want it? Who doesn’t want that? There are a lot of fondue set options out there, it really depends on what you are really planning to do with it. If you are just looking for a one night thing, then don’t spend big. If you see yourself, however, using it for dinner parties or even chocolate fondue, there are some fancier options like this one from Sur La Table.
  3. cookie-mix-cornflake-chocolate-chip.df767b4b2e8a6d87e598bba426544134Baking Mix Tin – Cornflake Marshmallow-Chocolate-Chip Cookie from Milk Bar ($17) – This is baking made easy and delicious. Have you had anything from Milk Bar yet? You have to. This gift can be a good activity to do together or a nice surprise if you want to skip ahead and make them beforehand for quick enjoyment. You can look at more flavors here. The mix of marshmallows and cornflakes is a delicious combination of crunch and softness, highly recommend it! This is also a good option for a more low key gift.
  4. main_variation_Default_view_2_425x425Sur La Table Cast-Iron Oyster Pan ($39.95) – I’m not gonna lie, this one is tricky. I have never really cooked seafood on my own. Sure, I love eating it, cooking it is just not my specialty. Still, since Valentine’s Day merits something special, why not cook an aphrodisiac meal? Just looking at this image gets me excited… for food. Don’t ask me where to get the oysters, I have no clue, BUT here’s some wine to drink with them. clubW
  5. Club W ($ – Varies) – Speaking of wine! Here’s another aphrodisiac that doesn’t need much explanation. I don’t really think you can go wrong with wine. If you can, plan a wine tour or local wine tasting. If you can’t, there are a lot of wine clubs out there that will make great gifts. I’m currently trying out Club W and so far, so good!

Last Night for NYC Restaurant Week!

 

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NYC Restaurant Week, you know it’s happening, you’ve seen your friends snap about it, but have you actually made a reservation yet? Well, tonight is the last night, don’t miss out. To me, NYC Restaurant Week is an opportunity to go to those fancy restaurants you wouldn’t be able to afford without a special pre-fix menu, am I right? As you probably know, $38 gets you an appetizer, an entrée and a dessert. Not too shabby. If you are like me, you probably end up at a place where wine is $18 a glass and are forced to throw caution to the wind.

While we are in the subject of not caring about anything and eating what makes you happy, below are some pictures of my NYC Restaurant Week experience. I went to Montebello Restaurant and Artisanal Fromagerie & Bistro. Italian and French, that’s my jam.

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Dinner at Montebello Restaurant was filling and satisfying. Our waiter was super nice and made some excellent recommendations. I got an eggplant parm… as an appetizer! You know you are about to feast when your appetizer is delicious and generous. They also had a nice selection to choose from, as opposed to other places where you can only pick from about two choices. My friend and I, avid eaters as we are, ordered two different entrees and shared. The Crespelle was delicious, think about a crêpe and a lasagna having a baby. Gross in theory, amazing in real life. It doesn’t stop there, we also ordered the Pollo Montebello, a delicious Parmesan crusted chicken, followed by cheesecake AND chocolate cake. Oops.

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Last night, I went to heaven, I mean Artisanal Fromagerie & Bistro. I got my own little Artisanal blend fondue as part of the restaurant week menu. Oh dear lord, hands down one of the best fondues I have ever had. I need to come back and try their truffle fondue, I can’t even imagine the goodness. I really enjoyed my fall cavatelli entrée with roasted squash, orange poppy seed cream and ricotta (yum, ricotta). Prices are a little high, so think about this as a place for celebratory dinners and special occasions.

It’s not too late to enjoy restaurant week, you still have lunch and dinner today, what are you waiting for?

#ReinventSnacking with these Creamy Cheese Options

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Image from The Laughing Cow ®

My love for The Laughing Cow started as a romantic French love affair. I was introduced to their classic, creamy swiss by my loving French host family and it quickly became an integral part of my breakfasts while abroad. It even substituted butter as my top choice to put on bread in the morning. When I was running out of money during my time abroad, I would still chip in to indulge in some creamy goodness. It made my cheap sandwich diet so much more exciting.

Breakfast Laughing Cow Beaches and Brie

Homemade breakfast in Paris, Fall 2010. Man, those were cool place mats.

That’s why I was so excited when I got invited to The Laughing Cow’s #ReinventSnacking event in New York City. Fun event plus a brand I already love? I’m in. During the night, I got to experience three different sessions in which I was able to learn from some talented folks.

My first station was Plates, Style & Photograph Snacks with Kristen Hess, from The Artful Gourmet. Basically, my dream job. Best part of setting up for style photography? If you are lucky, you get to eat the food. I did.

The Laughing Cow Beaches and Brie

The Laughing Cow Beaches and Brie

I then got to meet the lovely Chef Sarah Simmons from City Grit and Birds and Bubbles. In her station, we used different Laughing Cow products to create tasty and unique treats with a touch of Southern charm.

Laughing Cow Beaches and Brie

Lastly, I hit the Stop Motion Snack Video session with Amber Lee and created the video below. Guys, I’m really proud of it. But really, if you like my little video, go check out Amber’s work. Truly amazing.

Fun doesn’t end there, this month, there is another great flavor joining the Laughing Cow family… Creamy Asiago! I got the chance to try it this past month and it’s really good. It pairs well with pecans and pineapple but honestly, I can even eat it plain with one of my favorites, Blue Diamond Almond Nut-Thins. The Laughing Cow Creamy Asiago hits shelves this month.

Laughing Cow Creamy Asiago Snack

Disclosure: The Laughing Cow provided me with product for consideration.

All opinions, ideas and stories are 100% my own.

Gifts For That Foodie In Your Life

It’s that wonderful time of year! Yes, it’s almost Christmas, even though New York City weather wants to tell us otherwise. Today, instead of sharing mouthwatering pictures, I took the time to compile a list of a few awesome gifts to get that special foodie in your life (even if that special foodie is you!).

This past month I discovered Shoptiques, thanks to the fabulous FabFitFun Winter box. Yes, I may have been living under a rock if I just heard of this website, but if you know me, you know that I’ll take a fancy cheese plate over a pair of expensive shoes anytime. That’s just how I am wired. However, that does not mean I can’t appreciate the wonder that is Shoptiques. It basically lets you shop online from boutiques all over the world, all in one seamless experience.

I got to play around with it and it was really useful to be able to shop by category, but also being able to switch and focus on one boutique at a time. My first purchase arrived in basically 24 hours and the boutique owner even wrote me a handwritten note! Simple, yet meaningful.

Need it by Christmas? They guarantee delivery on time if you order by December 20th. Also, I can now basically give you $15 dollars to spend! Just click on this link, and once you purchase and take advantage of the $15, you will get your own link to share out with friends. The gift that keeps on giving, right?

Start browsing below, hope you find something that you like!

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Porcelain Yes Mug ($16)

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Got This Tumbler ($16)

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Antipasto Tray ($20)

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Carry-on Cocktail Kit, Gin & Tonic ($24)

Foodie Dice

Foodie Dice ($24)

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Gift Boxed Cheese-Knives ($47)

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Chez Elle Coasters ($47)

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Dot Martini Shaker ($50)

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Cheese Board Set ($60)

Impromptu Cheese Crawl


Last week I went  on a cheese crawl. Yup. Like a bar crawl, but with cheese, I’m sure you get it. Although, can I call it a cheese crawl if there were only two stops? I’m going to say that I can.

First stop: Murray Cheese Bar. I love this place, it’s always highly satisfying. I’ve had a full dinner there before, but for the purposes of this cheese crawl, I just had cheese. Below are the four picks of the night, all of them highly recommended!

Other great picks from past visits:

  • Petit Billy
  • Four Fat Fowl St. Stephen
  • Cavemaster Reserve Hudson Flower
  • Alemar Good Thunder

Second stop: Risotteria. Another place I love. Not only because I love risotto, but this is an awesome gluten-free spot where I can take all my great friends who can’t have gluten. Risotto is really an amazing concept and I’m a huge fan, as you may have seen here or here.

I don’t think you can go wrong with these two spots, not only do they have amazing cheese capabilities, they also have a great vibe for meeting up with friends from around or out of town.

You may have recalled I wrote an open letter to cheese a few months ago, but it was never a break up. I’m learning to balance my life so that I’m not having a full block of cheese for dinner every single night (it happens) but I can still indulge in the wonderfulness that is cheese.

On all seriousness, can we have a cheese crawl in nyc? I’m sure there is one, this city has it all…

*does quick Google search*

Guys, there is a tater tot crawl AND these guys did a grilled cheese crawl. All amazing activities, I must say. Oh my, there’s also a burger crawl. I must stop right now, this is too much to handle right now.

Ok, there’s some serious crawling that needs to happen soon. Maybe this can be a fun fall activity?

Let me just leave you with one final piece for inspiration:

“Life is great. Cheese makes it better.”
Avery Aames 

Dear Cheese, We Need to Talk

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Dear Cheese,

You know my love for you is true, but we need to talk. All I’ve ever done is praise you and treat you with love and what do you do in return? You hurt me. You hurt me when I least expect it and it drills a Swiss cheese hole in my heart.

You know I want to be with you every waking moment. I want you in my breakfast, as my snack, with my lunch, before dinner and for dinner. You make me happy in so many ways and you’ve given me some amazing times I will cherish forever. Your versatility provides for unexpected delight in different situations. Melted, hard or spread, you’re still amazing.

But Cheese, you’ve been hurting me too much lately. I can’t fathom the idea of life without you, the mere thought is too painful to bear. Still, my love, I think we need to spend some time apart. I’m not going to say goodbye forever because that’s impossible, but I think we need to see a little less of each other for a while.

I know you mean well, how can’t you with all the cheesy love you have to offer? You bring smiles to everyone who is lucky enough to encounter you, you make boring meals so much more exciting and even on your own… you are a wonder.

We’ve both seen what you can do to me. I know you’re sorry and you don’t mean to hurt me, I still love you in spite of the pain.

This is not farewell, it’s just a “see you soon” (and in smaller amounts).

Forever yours,
Cristina

Image Credit

[Dinner] Grano Trattoria

I love Italian food, as any sane person should. Cheese is everything, no questions asked. When it was time to pick where to go for my first birthday dinner (yes, there is more than one, duh) I wanted to go somewhere Italian.

I’ve been dying to try Rosemary’s in the West Village, many friends have recommended it, but there were no reservations available when I checked. Thanks to the Open Table app I discovered another option for dinner, Grano Trattoria.

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Obviously, I started with the daily selection of cheese. These were particularly more special since I had been on some sort of cheese deprivation period, which basically means that I was eating normal amounts of cheese and no the ridiculous amounts that my heart desires.

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This is what got me. This risotto was DELICIOUS. It was the perfect balance of thick and creamy. I think by some, this risotto can be considered more on the cheesy/creamy side, but in my eyes that equals perfection.

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My boyfriend got the veal parmegiana, which looks messy but was actually pretty good. I’m not a big fan of veal, but he said it was good. He’s usually an easy chicken parm kind of guy, so I think that says a lot.

So that’s how my birthday celebrations began! If it was up to me, I would celebrate all month (which I kinda do in some way) but I tried to be normal and kept the celebrations down to a week. I always love to go out to dinner and try new places, but there’s always a nice extra touch when you’re going out for a special occasion. You don’t need to get me any presents, just feed me, seriously.