What's on the menu for Valentine's Day? This year, it's all about the salt, sugar, bacon and beer. And chocolate, of course, in every way from molten to heart-shaped. From sexy lollipops to wine for a cause, feed your sweetie(s) or your own fine self with a pick from our list of delectable local treats.
Work in the City? Skip the lines at See's and nip down to the Ferry Building instead to take your pick of Recchiuti Confections' dark and luscious Valentine's Day boxes, made in Dogpatch by owner Michael Recchiuti. Our favorite? Hearts in Motion, a 9-piece box of Recchiuti's signature burnt-caramel truffles, decorated with squiggly hearts on wheels. Perfect for your favorite Bike Coalition activist! There's also the XO Box of raspberry-Framboise and heart-shaped dark chocolate truffles in a deep crimson box. Or there's always a blindfold and the Sauce Duo, a jar each of the divine Extra-Bitter Chocolate Sauce and Burnt Caramel Sauce. Who needs dinner?
But if you do, Recchiuti's new Chocolate Lab is offering a full prix-fixe dinner menu for Valentine's Day, with champagne sorbet, shellfish ceviche, rack of lamb, with a lavish chocolate dessert to finish.
There's more burnt caramel and raspberry awaiting your pleasure at Socola Chocolatier, where the Aphrodite's Delight selection comes in 4-, 12-, and 24-piece boxes, enough to satisfy even the polyamorous among us. This year's box includes Hot Lava, a raspberry pate de fruit layered with champagne ganache and enrobed in dark chocolate stamped with the word "love" in many languages, paired with Burnt Baby Burnt, a dark chocolate truffle filled with burnt caramel chocolate ganache and topped with ruby grains of Hawaiian red sea salt. Both pieces are made with local E. Guittard dark chocolate and Straus Creamery organic butter and cream.
In the mood to break out the bubbly? Forget the champagne: this year, it's all about the beer (and the chocolate). On Feb 14, from 3pm-8pm, as part of SF Beer Week, the brand-new Hunters Point brewpub for Speakeasy Ales & Lagers will be tapping four of its limited-release beers, complemented by specially chosen Socola chocolates. Both Rosamunde Sausage Grill in the Mission and Steep Brew in Potrero Hill will also be offering beer and chocolate pairings, while Blackbird on Market Street will be pouring a beer-based cocktail to pair with three different made-in-Dogpatch Barbary Brix caramels, including everyone's favorites, the Salty Dog (Balinese sea salt) and the Morning Glory (maple and bacon). Check out the listings at SF Beer Week for details.
And speaking of salted caramels, San Francisco's Poco Dolce, known for its sleek, stylish, salt-topped chocolate tiles, is expanding its brand this year with a luxurious Valentine's Day chocolate basket filled with handmade marshmallows, rich bittersweet drinking chocolate, and a box each of sea salt caramels and ganache-filled chocolate hearts.
Up in Healdsburg, musician-turned-winemaker Christian Stark and his wife and business partner Jen are doing good while making good wine. Their boutique winery, Stark Wine, is partnering with Sonoma Chocolatiers to create this year's special Love to Give gift pack, featuring a bottle of Stark Wild red wine (an "untamed" 2011 blend of Zinfandel, Grenache, and Petit Syrah) and four different salty, nutty chocolate and caramel indulgences: cinnamon-dusted chocolate-covered organic almonds, salted caramels, smoked sea-salt bites, and a dark chocolate Sonoma Bar, studded with nuts and raisins, in the shape of a bunch of grapes. Available only on their website, the box's $49 price includes shipping within California. 10% of the profits on this (and all other Stark wines) goes directly to WaterAid, a non-profit organization that supports and funds clean water and sanitation projects in developing countries.
If your honey's taste is more salty than sweet, try Marin's Cowgirl Creamery's Valentine Collection, featuring their limited-edition Heart's Desire cheese, Blue Chair Fruit marmalade, Rustic Bakery chocolate cocoa-nib shortbread (with a hint of sea salt), and cheese knives and a bamboo cheese board, all perfect for promising many Pacific Coast picnics to come. It's almost sold out for this year, so grab it while you can! Cowgirl fans might recognize the buttery-rich deliciousness of this cheese. Named after West Marin's Heart's Desire Beach overlooking tranquil Tomales Bay, it's a heart-shaped version of the creamery's much-loved triple-cream Mt. Tam.
And while it's smart to fill the fridge with plenty of fresh-squeezed juice and bacon for the morning after, be sure you'll make it to breakfast by picking up some Bacon Salted Caramels, Bacon Crack, and Bourbon Bacon Rocky Road by everyone's favorite local baconiste, Kai Kronfield of Nosh This. You can turn those three little piggy treats into four even happier pigs by adding a jar of Kronfield's new Bacon Salted Caramel Sauce, which Kronfield will be selling from the Nosh This workshop at 2325 3rd St, Ste 326, in San Francisco, only on Valentine's Day. And because nothing's better with bacon than beer (and chocolate!) Kronfield also be selling his sweet bacony goodness at SoMa's City Beer Store at 6pm on Feb 14 during their Midnight Sun Brewing Company's Alaskan beer tasting.
An aphrodisiac in a lollipop? That's the promise of Pandora's Pops, made with all-natural infusions of va-va-voom herbs and spices. Owner Jena Chambers cooked up her first batches of sexy lollipops on a houseboat in Sausalito. Now, she's got a full "Boudoir Collection" of sweet, heart-shaped licks. The pops come in flavors like rose and cardamom, cinnamon spice, ginger and cocoa, jasmine and cardamom, and, yes, even Fifty Shades of Earl Grey, with bergamot and black tea.
Still need a little more inspiration? Meesha Halm offers an ultimate Valentine's Day dining guide to Bay Area restaurants, while on Tablehopper, Marcia Gagliardi tracks down some fun pop-ups and more for the day.