Chocolate Fest at Whole Foods!

I love chocolate. I’m pretty sure you’ve heard many people say that before. Especially women; I mean, a prerequisite of being a woman is liking chocolate. It doesn’t even have to be every type of chocolate, but at least one of the varieties. I’ve only met one person (in the world) who doesn’t like chocolate — they shall remain nameless for their own protection.

Anyway, back to the point!

Chocolate is wonderful. So is Whole Foods. And so is tasting LOTS of different types/forms of chocolate. “So, what does all of this mean?”, you ask. It means that Chocolate Fest is coming to the Whole Foods Andover this Friday, February 8th from 5:00 — 7:00 p.m. and you should absolutely add it to your calendar. You can find your favorite chocolate, and pick up a few items or ideas for that nice dinner you plan on making your lovah on Valentine’s Day (feel free to take that as an aggressive hint, Colin).

The lovely folks at Whole Foods gave me a bunch of chocolate to try out. It was tough (not!), but somehow I got through it. Thanks again y’all!

Here’s what I got to taste:

1.Taza Chocolate — I tried their Coco Besos Coconut Kisses bar which is 70% stone ground dark chocolate with coconut. I liked all of the chocolate I tried, but this was my favorite! I am such a sucker for dark chocolate AND coconut, so if you put the two together, fuggedaboutit.  It’s organic, Direct Trade certified, gluten-free, dairy free, soy free, and locally made in Somerville MA. (Facebook, Twitter)

2. Cissé Trading Co. — I tried their Signature Semisweet Hot Cocoa which was awesome. Definitely not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill hot cocoa. It’s made with Fair Trade cocoa powder, and a mix of milk and dark chocolate chips. So worth it. (Facebook, Twitter)

3. Raaka Chocolate —  I tried three of these quirky, delicious virgin chocolate bars; the Bourbon Cask Aged bar, the Vanilla Rooibos bar, and the Black Coffee bar. The Black Coffee bar was my favorite, because I am a coffee addict and cannot help myself. All three were bursting with flavors, and that’s what I really liked about these in particular. The bourbon had some caramel going on in there, the vanilla included a delightful hint of cherry and marshmallow, and then the coffee bar offered a toffee/cinnamon kick. Raaka chocolate is vegan, organic, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, and are also wrapped up like little gifts, which really works for me. (Facebook, Twitter)

4. Bixby and Co. — I tried their Heart’s Delight Chocolate Bar which consists of dark chocolate with almonds, strawberries, and Ceylon cinnamon, as well as their Mulligan Chocolate Bar which consists of organic milk chocolate with walnuts, dried currants, and Vietnamese cinnamon. They are different — I personally liked the addition of the nuts in these two. These bars are vegan, organic, gluten-free, and Rainforest Alliance Certified. (Facebook, Twitter)

5. Vosges Haut-Chocolat — Ok, hold on to your hats for these two. I tried Vosges’ Mo’s Milk Bar first. AMAZING. This one consists of 45% deep milk chocolate, hickory smoked uncured bacon, and Alderwood smoked salt. I meant, are you kidding? The salty, sweet combo does not (!) disappoint here. I also tried their Smoke and Stout Caramel Bar which consists of 70% dark chocolate, Rogue Ale’s Chocolate Stout beer, Alderwood smoked salt, and burnt sugar caramel. This was great. Katrina (Vosges founder) must have a really good idea about what makes men happy (you go girl). Chocolate + bacon = a happy man. Chocolate + beer = a very happy man. I could add another component into these equations that would = an elated man, but I will leave that to your imagination. Anyway, these might be a good choice for Valentine’s Day this year, ladies. (Facebook, Twitter)

6. Divine Chocolate — I tried their White Chocolate and Strawberry Hearts. They were, quite literally, divine. Not only were these pretty little hearts really tasty, they are also made with cocoa beans from Kuapa Kokoo — a co-operative of farmers in Ghana. When you buy this chocolate, these farmers get both a fair deal as well as a chance for a better future. A cause that’s definitely worth those chocolate calories, if you ask me. (Facebook, Twitter)

Don’t forget to check out the Andover Whole Foods on Facebook and Twitter as well!

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Happy Chocolate Fest, and happy early Valentine’s Day! :)

Unexpected flowers – a do, or a don’t?

Valentine’s Day has come and gone. Flowers that women have received at the office are wilting away on their desks, and all the chocolates have been devoured (at least in our home they have!). This brings me to an interesting question…would you rather receive flowers from your significant other for a special occasion (Valentine’s Day, birthday, anniversary)? Or would you rather be surprised with flowers on a random day of the week? (I guess another option could be ‘Or would you rather receive them both for special occasions, and on random days of the week’, but come on people — let’s be realistic!).

Beautiful!

I think flowers are sweet any which way you look at it, so they are a DO in my book. I’ve gotten them from Colin on special occasions, and on random days — and I’ve enjoyed them both equally. No matter what it is I receive — flowers, a card, a gift — I must say, I mostly appreciate Colin’s thoughtfulness. It’s nice to know someone’s thinking about you whether it’s a holiday or not!

The folks over at Frugal Dad put together a great infographic all about giving someone flowers and I thought it would be fun to share! Even though Valentine’s Day is over, I’m thinking this might remind the guys out there that flowers are nice 365 days a year (or 366 days in this year’s case — don’t forget about Leap Day!).

Oh, and just as a side note — Colin, if I ever get black or yellow flowers from you (according to this infographic) — you are in trouble. ;)

flower guide

Source: http://frugaldad.com

Valentine’s Day is around the corner…

For the most part, when the topic of Valentine’s Day comes up, very strong opinions are voiced; you either love it, or you hate it. Maybe you’re in a new, exciting relationship and can’t wait for it, or maybe you’ve just ended a relationship or have been single for a while and you’re dreading it. Either way, whether you’re happily celebrating over candlelight or cursing all of those ‘lovey-dovey’ fools in relationships — I hope you have fun!

Area Four in Kendall Square (500 Technology Square, Cambridge) is celebrating Valentine’s Day with “Bloody” Heart Pizzas, Breakup Banana Splits, and more. Here’s what they have going on:

“Bloody” Heart Pizza
Beef hearts, tomato sauce, caramelized onions, house made mozzarella, pecorino gremolata — Small $15; Large $23.50


Breakup Banana Split
Caramelized bananas, homemade vanilla  and chocolate soft serve, brandied cherries and homemade chocolate, marshmallow and salted caramel sauces — $10/person; up to 10 people


Beer Goggles
A beer and two shots (choice of Four Roses Bourbon or French Martini shots) — $16


Cocktails by the Pitcher — $35/each

Aphrodi-tea
Citrus Vodka, Sour, Vermouth, St. Germain, Mint Simple Syrup, Black Tea

Petal Punch
Silver Tequila, Peach Liqueur, Pomegranate liqueur, Chamomile Tea

Last Resort
Vodka, Vanilla Liqueur, Campari, Cucumber/Lemon/Lime Juice, Moscato D’Asti, Prosecco

Potion #9
Sparkling Rosé, Strawberry Syrup, Kiwi Purée, Lime Juice

Check out Area Four on Facebook and Twitter.

And are you still thinking of something to get your significant other? Col and I usually just do something small for one another, but if you’re looking to go all-out, here are a couple of ideas!

Guys — honestly, you can never go wrong with jewels. Gemvara has a ton of amazing stuff. I love the Naked Pave Petit Pendant from Naked Gems. It’s beautiful and can be customized with your choice of one or two different gemstones (17 total gemstones available) and your favorite metal (prices vary depending on the combo of gem/metal).

Daily Grommet has good ideas too:

The Objects with Purpose Dahlia Candle — a large three wick candle scented with organic rose and lychee. But this is not ordinary candle, it has magical powers — while it’s burning it melts into a perfume and body butter. Very cool!

This is a clever little gift (also found on Daily Grommet) — Moultonology Garden Bon Bons. These are little seed balls which are presented as chocolate truffles. All you have to do is place the Garden Bon Bons on top of soil, water, and watch them grow! Just make sure your significant other doesn’t eat them before you get a chance to explain. :)

One more fun Daily Grommet idea — Zipbuds Tangle-Resistant Earbuds which are headphones that have zipper integrated cabling. The zipper is substantial enough to resist knots so they won’t get tangled! Plus they are noise isolating which is such a key factor with headphones if you ask me.

Need a creative date idea? Passes to SkyZone would be fun and different. SkyZone is New England’s only indoor trampoline park with locations in Boston (91B Sprague Street, Boston) and Everett (69 Norman Street Suite 1B, Everett).

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Last night Colin and I finally got the chance to use our Capital Grille gift certificate. We’ve been waiting to use it for a special occasion and we figured Valentine’s Day was perfect. We got all dolled up for one another and headed to the Newbury Street location. It was packed with lovebirds!

This was our first time visiting the Capital Grille and it most definitely wasn’t the last. From the beautiful, warm decor – to the excellent service from our waiter Dan – to the amazing food and wine, we had such a wonderful evening. We felt like fancy grownups the whole time (in a good way).

We started with the fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil appetizer – it tasted like summertime – it was so fresh! Then I had the bone-in Kona Crusted Dry Aged Sirloin with Caramelized Shallot Butter and the Lobster Mac ‘n’ Cheese as a side. Does that not sound like the best meal ever? Pretty sure if I had to choose my last meal I would probably choose this. It would at least be in the top three choices.

 

I was nervous to use my flash!

AMAZING

Soooooooooo good

Great Date!

 

Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you all had a wonderful day. :)