Besides snagging a dinner reservation, finding a great present for your sweetie can be the most stressful part of Valentine's Day. But you don't have to resort to chocolates from the drugstore or Amazon.com gift cards--because you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, populated by creative people making interesting and quality items. Here are some gift ideas for your Valentine, starting with chocolate and other food groups and followed by non-edible homegrown gifts. (Oh, and about that dinner reservation: Check our list of romantic and special-occasion restaurants in San Francisco for ideas).
*VALENTINE'S DAY CHOCOLATE & OTHER GIFTS TO EAT AND DRINK
Poco Dolce Chocolates
Poco Dolce (meaning “not too sweet” in Italian) makes chocolates in small batches in its Dogpatch kitchen. Its Champagne and Strawberries Box contains a bittersweet chocolate ganache heart nestled among four Champagne truffles and four strawberry balsamic truffles. There are also boxes of bittersweet chocolate hearts, and a Valentine's Day Gift Set that includes chocolate hearts, sea salt caramels, and chocolate bars.
Socola Chocolatier Truffles
The Aphrodite's Delight collection features two kinds of chocolate truffles, Hot Lava (raspberry with Champagne ganache), printed with “love,” “amore,” and the word in Chinese, Hebrew and other languages, and Burnt Baby Burnt (burnt caramel with a dash of red Hawaiian sea salt). Boxes of 4, 12 and 24 truffles are available online or at Socola's SoMa store.
TCHO has conveniently bundled its chocolates in gift boxes with heart- and love-themed graphics made by various designers. They are available online and at SF Whole Foods, such as those in the Haight-Ashbury and Pacific Heights.
Donsuemor Madeleines & Other Cakes
The Alameda-based company is best known for its buttery madeleines, pound-cake-like vanilla nuggets that come plain, with lemon zest or dipped in chocolate. Its financiers, French cakes with ground almonds, are rich, too. The newest product is the nonnette, a bite-sized cake that’s covered in a Meyer lemon, vanilla bean or peppermint bark glaze. The petite cakes are available from the Donsuemor website and at Peet’s Coffee & Tea outlets in San Francisco.
Numi's Flowering Tea is like a bouquet in a teapot: Add hot water, and a nondescript wad of tea unfurls into a pretty blossom. The magic comes from hand-sewing tea leaves and flowers--such as lily, rose, chrysanthemum, lavender and jasmine--into a bundle. For chocolate without the calories, the Indulgent Teas, in four varieties, combine chocolate with Earl Grey, rooibos, mint and chai spices. Numi Teas are available at markets throughout San Francisco, including Whole Foods in the Haight-Ashbury and Safeways in the Mission.
The Republic of Tea Rose and Passionate Teas
With this Marin County tea purveyor’s rose teas, you get to both smell and drink the roses. There’s a loose-leaf blend of rosebuds and black tea, a Downton Abbey English Rose herbal blend that brews up a vibrant pink, and a Raspberry Rose Hibiscus herbal tea. The Get Passionate herbal tea contains muira puama bark, ashwagandha root and maca root, which are said to have libido-boosting, aphrodisiac qualities, along with rooibos, lemon verbena and hibiscus. Order online or by phone (800 298-4832).
*OTHER VALENTINE'S DAY GIFTS (NON-EDIBLES)
Back to the Roots Kits
In 2009, coffee grounds and mushrooms diverted two UC-Berkeley students who were on the verge of graduating into investment banking and consulting. Now they use millions of pounds of Peet’s coffee grounds for their gourmet mushroom growing kits. They’ve also developed a home aquaponics garden, a closed-loop system that simultaneously cleans your fish tank and fertilizes a mini herb garden.
Compass Rose Design Jewelry
A Marin wife-and-husband team that’s inspired by the Victorian-era crafts cuff links and jewelry using antique and vintage buttons, keys, watches, typewriter keys, medals and other bits and bobs.
Crave Vibrators and Jewelry
Stylish, sleek vibrators designed, engineered and assembled in SoMa. Besides the signature Duet (the lux model of which also doubles as a memory sticks), Crave also makes sensual jewelry.
Sora Designs Jewelry
A social-science-researcher-turned-jewelry-designer in San Francisco makes heart, astrological-sign and other lockets; chains with stars, wishbones, compasses, arrows (for Valentine’s Day, you can say they’re Cupid’s) and heart charms stamped with “X” and “O” (or other letters or numbers of your choice); and earrings with tiny cupcake and baking-pan charms.