It might be almost too late to make a Valentine’s Day reservation at your restaurant of choice, but it’s not too late to buy your sweetheart a delicious gift that’s made right here in Central PA. You can thank me later.
Let’s start with the obvious: chocolate. One of my perpetual favorite places is Lancaster’s Bonbonniere, a European-style confectionary shop that is as adorable as its treats — with one of the most elaborate window displays around. In addition to perennial favorites like chocolate-covered pretzel cameos and truffle fudge salt bites, you’ll find V-Day-themed truffle bars by Seattle Chocolates. For her, the Pink Bubbly Bar brings together raspberries in white chocolate with champagne and effervescent candy pieces in dark chocolate. For him, the Cinna-Man Bar blends cinnamon oil and crushed cinnamon candies in dark chocolate for a spicy kick. Bonbonniere can combine these and other items to create a special box of chocolates specifically for your valentine.
Lancaster Cupcake, recently featured on Cupcake Wars, has some super-lovable flavors in store, and they’ll also be offered on its cupcake truck, which comes to Lancaster city on Feb. 14. If you’re standing in line for the truck that day, you’ll get a free mini hot chocolate and samples to tide you over until you can get your lips on the chocolate-covered strawberry, Cupid’s red velvet, chocolate raspberry, strawberry passion and red hot velvet cupcakes. These are about as close to Georgetown Cupcake that you’ll get around here. Also check out the strawberry champagne cupcakes at Desserts Etc. in Hershey and the sea of elaborate cupcake flavors at The Lemon Tree (inside Hard Bean Café) in Camp Hill.
Speaking of chocolate-covered strawberries, they always come to mind for this holiday, and many local bakeries have them for sale right now. Try Ciao! Bakery in Harrisburg, Carlisle Bakery in Carlisle and The Pennsylvania Bakery in Camp Hill, the last of which also features a sweetheart torte made with chocolate cake, strawberry filling, whipped cream and chocolate ganache and then garnished with chocolate-covered strawberries. Similarly, Desserts Etc. has red velvet brownies topped with chocolate-covered strawberries.
In other treats, Center Square Bakery in Elizabethtown makes red velvet, heart-shaped whoopie pies. Meanwhile, Helena’s Chocolate Café & Creperie in Carlisle has tiny strawberry cream tarts and a rainbow of French macarons that you’ll simply want to snatch up and take home with you.
For the more health-conscious at heart, visit the new Nuts About Granola shop in York. I’d go for the Lover’s Combo — peanut butter and chocolate granola — but there are all sorts of varieties made from organic and local ingredients. The Cavewoman variety is even grain-free, gluten-free and Paleo-friendly.
Savory (Love) Bites
There’s a special delivery, and it’s not flowers. A hand-delivered box of sushi has love written all over it, especially if it includes the heart-shaped sweetheart rolls offered at Empire Asian Bistro in Harrisburg, Mitsuru-Ya in York, Sakura in Lancaster and Fujihana in York. Fusion Fire in Camp Hill even has a Love at 1st Sight roll, which is both heart-shaped and pink, as it’s wrapped in pink soy paper rather than seaweed. The inside is stuffed with melt-in-your-mouth lobster tail tempura, asparagus, avocado, cream cheese and caviar.
Guys, are you just a big softie? The heart-shaped soft pretzels at Philly Pretzel Factory definitely are, and you can find them at the Camp Hill, Harrisburg and Lititz locations now through Valentine’s Day. At just $1.50 each, it may very well be the cheapest dozen you’ve ever bought.
Is it getting hot in here? It will be once you pour some all-natural Torchbearer Sauces on dinner. Get tempted by the spicy Sultry Sauce, or if you’re not afraid of some triple-X hotness, try the Slaughter Sauce. The Torchbearer website lists locations where you can purchase products.
What’s not love about sharing a cup of java with that special someone? Enjoy snuggle-inducing Autumn Sweater or Nup’s Cup Foreverness blends at Little Amps Coffee Roasters in Harrisburg. You can also stick two straws in a chocolate-covered strawberry tea latte at Prince Street Café in Lancaster or dive into a cappuccino with a heart made of foam.
Get your date blushing with a bottle of Allegro Winery and Vineyards’ Brogue Blush or the smooth-talking Velvet Ruby from Tamanend Winery in Lancaster. Then finish the night on a sweet note with Coco Nostra, the best-selling chocolate wine at Cullari Vineyards and Winery in Hershey or the strawberry wine at Benigna’s Creek in Klingerstown. And if The Vineyard at Hershey has any say in it, the night will surely end with its whimsical Twisted Kiss.
What are your sweet (or savory) ideas for V-Day gifts?