Saturday, 2 February 2013

Valentine's Gift Guide 2013

It will soon be Valentine’s Day and choosing the right gift can be difficult, especially for that person who has everything. We have put together a selection of the best of the best gift choices this year. Most of us end up buying our other halves supermarket chocolates or flowers, which isn't very imaginative at all. Getting something a lot more thoughtful can only be a click away in a lot of cases, so it couldn't be easier!

Hotel Chocolat has come up trumps again this year with their absolutely fantastic range of Valentine’s chocolates. Hotel Chocolat really know what they are doing with chocolate and there is something for everyone’s price range. The ‘Sealed with a Kiss’ chocolates box (£45) is an amazing selection of everything scrumptious; from salted caramels to champagne truffles this box has it all. We adore the ‘Love Birds’ selection (£10) which includes delicious tangy strawberry chocolate hearts surrounded by melt in your mouth chocolate love birds. Or if you’re looking for a small gift which still includes a touch of luxury Hotel Chocolat’s Queen & King of Hearts (£5.50) is perfect. Coming in either 40% milk or 70% dark chocolate these casts of two chocolate playing cards are a gorgeous treat to share.  The amazing presentation of all of Hotel Chocolat’s treats makes receiving them as a gift an absolute pleasure for anyone.

Adagio Teas truly have a gift for every occasion and Valentine’s Day is no exception. Drinking loose leaf tea is really coming back into fashion as more and more people are discovering the huge variety of teas available, you quickly discover your favourites.

Adagio Teas have put together a wonderfully presented set of three tins of gourmet loose leaf tea called ‘Love Petals’ (£19). This set contains enough tea to make around 150 cups of tea! And being comprised of three completely different teas, gives the recipient a good variety to choose from. The selection comprises of ‘Hugs and Kisses tea’ (Rooibos, rose petals, cornflowers, vanilla flavour, almond flavour, cream flavour and caramel flavour), ‘Sweet Nothings tea’ (White tea, sunflower petals, lavender buds, apricot bits, peach flavour) and ‘Ripe for Romance tea’ (Black tea, cocoa nibs, raspberry leaves, raspberry pieces, chocolate flavour, raspberry flavour).

This is a Valentine’s gift with a bit of difference! Have you ever wanted to buy your loved one their favourite recipe book but not known exactly what they want? Well The Willoughby Book Club takes that decision off your shoulders. This wonderful service allows you to pay upfront for 3, 6 or 12 month book subscription where they will send the lucky recipient 1 book each month. There are various other book categories to choose from other than cookery, these include couples books, natural history, classic books and more. All you need to do is specify the answer to some different questions about the recipient (these differ for each category of books) for the cookery books two of the questions are which their favourite cuisine is and whether they like baking. These questions ensure your loved one gets something they will be interested in while still keeping the element of surprise. The books come beautifully wrapped and would be a pleasure to receive each month. The Willoughby Book Club is a small family business based in South Leicestershire, England and run by Adam and Chloe who ensure plenty of love goes into choosing your books. The Willoughby Book Club has already been featured in The Guardian and we can certainly see this being the next big trend!

Cocoaloco is one of those special chocolate companies where you know a lot of love and passion goes into the crafting of their chocolates. All Cocoaloco’s chocolate is organic; they even use packaging which makes minimal impact on the environment. Sarah and Rory of Cocoaloco set out to make their company “build a premium treat reputation around words like approachable, affordable and genuine choice” and they have certainly done that! Having received awards such as The Times Organic hero award (2008), ‘the best producer in Sussex’ gong among many many others, this is a company to watch, for they will go far!! Some of their Valentine’s range which we love includes decadent milk chocolate champagne truffles (£5.99 for 6 or £11.49 for 12), these are made with the finest Vandieres champagne and tossed in milk chocolate flakes.

Or how about trying the special Valentine’s hearts and flowers slab (£11.99), this is a generously sized slab of finest milk chocolate with raspberry flavoured chocolate flowers and luxurious dark chocolate hearts. Or if you are after something simple but to the point why not try Cocoaloco’s dark and raspberry chocolate hearts (£3.99) which are all inscribed with phrases for your Valentine.

Paul A Young Chocolatiers

Paul A Young has been selected by Channel 4 as one of the most influential foodies under 40, we thought we would begin for that fact, as it really shows Paul’s dedication to the fine art of chocolate making. Paul has worked for many famous and influential chefs in his illustrious past including the renowned Marco Pierre White as his head pastry chef. He now has three artisan chocolate shops in London in Soho, Islington and Central London which are all beautifully and tastefully presented. Paul’s fine chocolates can only be purchased in store, the perfect excuse to visit! Paul has come up with something for everyone this Valentine’s Day, some very ground-breaking and creative flavour combinations. These include ‘The Hipster’ - Cocoa nib Bourbon tobacco sour, ‘The London Gent’– black pepper and treacle caramel ganache truffle or more along the lines of love with ‘The Love potion’ – jasmine flower, ylang-ylang, geranium, vanilla and lavender or Rodda’s Cornish Clotted Cream, real champagne, rose and raspberry heart. Or if you are after something a little more substantial than chocolates Paul has revamped their famous brownies in time for Valentine’s day by adding chipotle chilli, sea salt and a sugar crust.

Montezuma’s Chocolate is always at the forefront of chocolate innovation. They have again excelled themselves again with their fantastic Valentine’s offering. The first thing that will strike you about Montezuma’s chocolate is the amount of thought which has gone into their packaging and presentation. This makes opening any Montezuma’s gift a complete pleasure. We absolutely love the Truffle Collection (£11.99) which includes 16 truffles made up of Milk Chocolate with a Peach and Passion fruit Centre and Milk Chocolate with Lime and Crunchy Hazelnut. Or if you are after a little extra to add to your Valentine’s gift Montezuma’s Chocolatehearts with butterscotch pieces (£3.99 are to die for.

Whittard always have a gift for every occasion. Whittard has been around since 1886 so what they don’t know about tea and coffee isn’t worth knowing. We have selected a special collection of their items for a ‘coffee lover’s gift’. This comprises of the wonderfully varied selection of Whittard’s 9 most popular ground Coffees from around the World which is beautifully presented in a gift box and individual boxes for each coffee. Coffees include Monsoon Malabar, Santos and Java, Sumatra, Guatemalan Elephant, Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, Pico Duarte, Colombian, Costa Rican and Mocha Djimmah. To go alongside this wonderful collection of coffees Whittard offer a Flavoured Coffee Syrups Set which comprises of Vanilla, Gingerbread, Hazelnut, Caramel and Cinnamon. Add a bit of extra extravagance to your coffees made in your own home. You’ll think twice about buying high street chain coffee again.

The fantastic handmade treats made by Rococo Chocolates are out of this world. The marshmallow game cube (£15) is like eating clouds. It isn’t a stereotypical Valentine’s thing to give marshmallows as Valentine’s presents but your loved one will be far from disappointed! The delicious vanilla, cherry and raspberry marshmallows are handmade by their talented principal chocolatier Barry Johnson. If you are after something a little chocolatier then Rococo offers a beautifully crafted box of 8 handmade, hand painted mini chocolate heart halves. (£11.95). These little wonders are sure to impress your loved one with the love and detail which goes into the creation of these beautiful chocolates.

Belfast Cookery School, nestled in the heart of Belfast city centre offers the gift for all foodies who seem to have everything else. We cannot think of a more suitable experience gift than to treat yourself and your loved one to a cookery class in this renowned and award winning cookery school. The classes are in an intimate number 16 ensuring you have plenty of interaction with the chef and the other students. With the variety of classes including steak class, bread making, and seafood among many others there is a fantastic choice to suit everyone whether they are a complete beginner or wanting to improve those cookery skills. The top chefs from the Classes are priced at £50 per person. Price includes dinner and a glass of wine. Keep tuned for a special feature article we will be doing on Belfast Cookery School in the next week.

We discovered Blond Amsterdam while we were Live Blogging from the city earlier this year. If you missed this you can read our Live Blog which we have kept on the site here. Blond Amsterdam has created a treasure trove or new, modern, fresh design ideas on their ranges. One of our favourite gift ideas from Blond Amsterdam is the Travel Coffee Cup for coffee on the go! Of course make sure to browse their other ranges for other gift ideas. Not a fan of coffee not to worry! Blonde Amsterdam has an amazing range of tea cups, saucers and even cake plates. Our favourite is the Pink Cup and Saucer with matching cake plate. Jazz up your tea parties a little with Blonde Amsterdam!

1 comment:

  1. Hi there. I really love the Blond Amsterdam cups. Do you know if they're available in Britain?


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