I know, I know, Valentine's Day is such a commercial ruse. Having said that, I like presents and attention and I think most of us do, so I'll take any excuse. :-D And by any excuse I mean buying them for myself too, or for my friends. An outcome of more love and thoughtfulness can never be a bad thing.
I wrote most of this this yesterday and then lost it all (gaaaah, technology) so it's a little later than I intended to send it but I hope it's still in time to be helpful.
These are all suggestions that the companies have either reached out to me about, or I've stumbled upon. I confess there's been no major seeking out of gifts, but I think they're all great ideas. It doesn't include everything I've been given by companies, just things I would fully recommend.
1. Paul A Young Valentine's Collection
Honestly, Paul's chocolates are never not going to make my list of gift suggestions, but this year he and his team have outdone themselves. The fresh selection follows a relationship journey from "Swipe Right" cookie dough to "Happily Ever After" honey caramel and it is genius as well as delicious. My absolute favourite is the "First Kiss" which is a white chocolate shell filled with sherbet and popping candy and other ingredients that are so reminiscent of teenage lipgloss and excitement.
2. Alain Ducasse's Le Chocolat
More fancy chocolate. I haven't tried the sweet box with two halves of a heart but I really love their praline and the milk half is a hazelnut praline and the dark is an almond one and I can't see how it would be anything other than delicious.
3.Dominique Ansel's Valentine's Patisserie Selection
The pastry team have turned the contents of the counter pink for Valentine's. It's cheesy but it is delicious. I sampled them all with a group of people who are all friends of the lovely @eatnlondon to celebrate her and her blog's birthday. I think my favourite might have been the chocolate mousse cake with the raspberry filling, but everyone had a different favourite so it's worth popping down to their boutique and choosing something that catches your eye.
This one won't require you being in London as it's available online and abroad, too. It's very different from the suggestions above and will totally suit someone who loves (or did love) the big chunky candy bars that you find in vending machines and corner stores. They bars are thick and large and feel so satisfying to break off chunks and bite into. I found the milk bars far too moreish and I love that neither the milk nor the dark chocolate have as much sugar as confectionery, no unnecessary fats and the supply chain is confirmed as slavery-free. In Australia there's a slightly more-millenial version of this ethical candy-style chocolate with better ingredients called "Hey Tiger" which my friend posted me a range of last year and it was considerably more expensive than Tony's but had some vegan options, too.
This packaging is so pretty and the dragees inside are excellent - high quality nuts and fruits coated in chocolate and then sugar shells. Like very posh M&M's! I found it particularly hard to stop eating the dark chocolate-covered, candy-coated cherries.
Lavolio and Martha Brooks
6. Martha Brook Stationery
If you're looking for a non-chocolatey present then there are beautiful and thoughtful options at Martha Brook. All of their products are customisable and really creative.
7. Jing Matcha Tea Shaker
Finally, if you know any matcha lovers they will LOVE Jing's new shaker. It is so quick to make good matcha with, the bottle is beautiful and portable and the set comes with some of the best matcha available. The shaker is £30.
I won't overwhelm you with another email tomorrow (also because I'm going to be out for dinner at a friend's house :-) ) but you'll hear from me again when I have some more interesting food to report on!
I hope you are able to buy yourself something nice for Thursday, or at least have a lovely and relaxing hour or two at some point in the day or evening.