The Sweet Spots: Sweets for Your Sweet on Valentine’s Day

Whether you’re in the honeymoon phase of a new relationship, losing track of the years spent with the love of your life, or feeling the sting of unrequited love this weekend, what better way to express how you feel than with something sweet? (Chocolate, mousse-filled, deep-fried, sugar-dusted, sprinkled with rose petals and paired with booze doesn’t hurt, either.) Here are 10 top spots to order sweets for your sweet on Valentine’s Day.

Sinfully Sweet at L’Atelier De Joël Robuchon, Las Vegas, Nevada
What happens on Valentine’s Day in Vegas stays in Vegas, right? Wherever the night takes you in Sin City this Valentine’s Day weekend, you can at least bet on a memorable dessert at the sleek, French-leaning L’Atelier De Joël Robuchon at MGM Grand. La Rouge Cerise stars its namesake red cherry in a compote with vanilla and dark chocolate cream while La Framboise comprises a white chocolate sphere filled with yuzu ice cream that’s revealed when cascaded with warm raspberry chocolate sauce at the table. Make a reservation at L’Atelier De Joël Robuchon.

Sweets for Your Sweet

Wine-Friendly Sweets at Five Fifty-Five, Portland, Maine
As part of its four-course Valentine’s Day menu, upscale American eatery Five Fifty-Five is tempting diners with three sweet conclusions from pastry chef Yazmin Saraya. Delicate Wine, Chocolate & Roses combines wine and berries pate de fruit, passion fruit truffles, and rose petal macaroon, lavender-laced cheesecake gets sweet tang from Meyer lemon and lightness from meringue, and a mouth-coating flourless chocolate brownie gets sweetness from white chocolate sorbet and sticky dulce de leche. Wine director/co-proprietor Michelle Corry’s carefully selected wine pairings will make dessert taste even sweeter (and your spoken love poems sound all the more impressive). Make a reservation at Five Fifty-Five.

Sweets for Your Sweet

Decisions, decisions! at 312 Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
For lovers who can’t commit (at least on a dessert choice), 312 Chicago chef Luca Corazzina is offering three sweet meal enders this Valentine’s Day. Torta di Cioccolato comprises rich flourless chocolate cake with pistachio cream atop a smear of wild berry sauce; Bombolini, or Italian fried doughnuts, sit atop white chocolate mousse with Champagne; and Panna Cotta de Lamponi pairs light vanilla custard with raspberries and kiwi salad. Don’t worry; dessert sharing is encouraged (though it may not resolve monogamy issues). Make a reservation at 312 Chicago.

Sweets for Your Sweet

Red Velvet Cake for Two at The Gage, Chicago, Illinois
The Gage pastry chef Kym DeLost aims to melt the hearts of even staunch non-dessert-sharers with her amorous Red Velvet Cake for Two. Rich with the color and flavor of cocoa, this layered cake is filled with cheesecake frosting and strawberry-wine jelly and then topped with crunchy meringue kisses and raspberries and strawberries glazed with sparkling red Brachetto wine and finished with candied rose petals that pop with desire on the crisp white plate. Make a reservation at The Gage.

Sweets for Your Sweet

Cupid’s (Semolina Cake) Arrow at Hinoki & the Bird, Los Angeles, California
According to Persian culture, if you bake a semolina cake for someone, the person who eats it will fall in love with you. So if you’re sensing your love might be unrequited, take your date to travel-inspired Hinoki & the Bird for the Semolina Almond Cake. This airy, not-too-sweet cake is infused with ground almonds and fragrant lemon zest and plated with fresh berries, crème fraîche, and honeycomb. In other words, Cupid’s arrow in dessert form. Book a table at Hinoki & the Bird.

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Love Bites: Decadent Valentine’s Day Chocolate Desserts

It’s estimated that Americans buy a beyond impressive 58 million pounds of chocolates during Valentine’s Week. So when you go out for a romantic dinner to celebrate Cupid’s holiday, chances are your meal will end with a chocolate-y extravagance. Pastry chefs and chocolatiers spend months conceiving decadent desserts that highlight cocoa in a myriad of clever – and exceedingly delicious – ways. Here are 16 decadent chocolate desserts (including one that will set you back a cool grand!) that will melt your heart, blow your mind, and give your belly afterglow on Valentine’s Day or any day.

Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria, New York, New York
Here’s a heart-shaped boxed we’d like to be locked inside for weeks. Pastry chef Genevieve Meli forges a lid out of chocolate bark speckled with almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, and a galactic scattering of Maldon sea salt. It covers an assortment of beautiful bonbons sure to impress any date. Make a reservation at Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria.

Chocolate Desserts

Daniel, New York, New York
Should you share a French kiss at a restaurant? In this case, absolutely. Executive pastry chef Ghaya Oliveira created a pair of dark chocolate lips for you to share with your sweetie. One is filled with triple vanilla mousse, ruby red grapefruit jam, and rose water Turkish delight. The other boasts dark chocolate marshmallow, passion fruit caramel, and hazelnut praline. Make a reservation at Daniel.

Chocolate Desserts

Fire, Denver, Colorado
Goodness gracious, great ball at Fire! A globe formed with chocolate and orange mousses is doused with warm caramel to melt it into a craggy meteor of delicious proportions. We would instruct you to eat it quickly before it dissolves into a puddle of goodness, but we doubt this dessert will last three minutes after it arrives at your table. Make a reservation at Fire.

Chocolate Desserts

America Eats Tavern, McLean, Virginia
George was a lucky fella. Turns out Martha Washington made a killer chocolate cake. Buttermilk and coffee add fluffiness and a bit of acidity to the cake, which is interspersed with cocoa butter icing. The triple layer treat is covered in chocolate Chantilly. A big wedge of it with a bracing cup of locally roasted Compass Coffee and we’re in heaven. Make a reservation at America Eats Tavern.

Chocolate Desserts

Veranda, San Diego, California
There’s no flour in these chocolate cakes, but there is a whole lot of love. Pastry chef Margaret Carvallo molds dark chocolate ganache into Cupid-worthy hearts, which she enrobes with 70% chocolate glaze. Perfect for sharing with your sweetheart. Make a reservation at Veranda.

Chocolate Desserts

Max Brenner-Union Square, New York City
Here’s a pizza for sweet tooths. A crusty round is topped with melted milk and white chocolate chunks and two toppings, which can include crushed hazelnuts, banana rounds, peanut butter, or roasted marshmallows. And, yes, it’s absolutely acceptable to eat a cold slice of it for breakfast the next morning. Make a reservation at Max Brenner.

Chocolate Desserts

Aureole, New York, New York
Pastry chef Pierre Poulin took inspiration from classic love songs – including the Bangles’ “Eternal Flame,” Seal’s “Kiss From a Rose” and “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses – to create his “Chocolate Mixtape Collection.” The 12-piece set showcases flavors that range from the enervating (coffee) and passionate (lychee-rose petal) to the purely decadent (foie gras). Consider it the edible soundtrack to your satisfaction. Make a reservation at Aureole.

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Arnaud’s, New Orleans, Louisiana
This dessert is the bomb. A chocolate toffee bomb, to be exact. Its cookie-crisp base is topped with English toffee-chocolate mousse and a rich ganache. Goes down well with a flaming Café Brûlot perked up with brandy and Curaçao. Make a reservation at Arnaud’s.

Chocolate Desserts

RPM Steak, Chicago, Illinois
Spangled with 14 karat gold flakes, this chocolate cake sports some serious bling. Dig in and you’ll find both milk and dark chocolate beneath the chocolate coating. Think of it as a candy bar for the 1%. Make a reservation at RPM Steak.

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Lively Up Yourself: 9 Legend-ary Jamaican + Ethiopian Dishes for Bob Marley Day 2016

February 6th marks what would have been Bob Marley’s 71st birthday. Born in Jamaica, the reggae icon considered Ethiopia his spiritual home. To celebrate the two rich veins of his heritage, we are highlighting nine outstanding dishes from the Caribbean island and the eastern African nation. These history-rich foods embody and showcase the culinary traditions of each region. Guaranteed to satisfy your soul on Bob Marley Day 2016 – and guaranteed to be one of your #29ReasonstoLoveFebruary!

Mr. Brown’s Lounge, Chicago, Illinois
Skewered shrimp are marinated in a ‘catch a fire’ jerk sauce made with plenty of Scotch Bonnet peppers that ain’t for the faint of heart. Luckily, the sweet, soothing mango salsa keeps things cool. If that’s not enough, we recommend a tart Ting grapefruit soda or a guava milkshake to quench the flames dancing across your tongue. A side of fried plantains or coconut milk-enriched rice ‘n’ peas will also help. Make a reservation at Mr. Brown’s Lounge.

Bob Marley Day 2016

Das Ethiopian Cuisine, Washington, D.C.
Can’t make up your mind on what to order? The vegetarian entrée sampler is a good way to go. Featuring eggplant and carrot wat stew, miser wat (red lentil stew with traditional Ethiopian Berbere pepper spice), and tikil gomen (ginger and garlic amped cabbage, potatoes, and carrots) and more, its served on a bed of spongy injera bread that’s meant to be used as a utensil — and then promptly eaten. Make a reservation at Das Ethiopian Cuisine.

Bob Marley Day 2016

Taste of the Caribbean, Seattle, Washington
Meet your new favorite appetizer. Salted codfish, onions, peppers, and West Indian spices are balled up, battered, and deep-fried. Zigzagged with hot sauce and speckled with scallions, we bet you can’t eat just one of these tasteful takes on the Caribbean classic. Make a reservation at Taste of the Caribbean.

Bob Marley Day 2016

Ethiopian Diamond, Chicago, Illinois
Think of tibs as an Ethiopian stir-fry. To create tibs quosta, spinach is sautéed with garlic and onions, and then mixed with juicy chicken chunks and green peppers. Of course, it’s served with plenty of injera bread, so you can fold up the components together fajita-style. Make a reservation at Ethiopian Diamond.

Bob Marley Day 2016

Ja’ Grill, Chicago, Illinois
Chef Errol Gallimore, a Jamaican transplant, cooks his home-style oxtail in an aromatic brown sauce until the meat is falling off the bone. The rich stew is fortified with butter beans, carrots, potatoes, onions, and several varieties of pepper and is complemented with spicy rice and fried plantains. Goes well with an ice-cold Red Stripe beer. Or three. Make a reservation at Ja’ Grill.

Bob Marley Day 2016

Lucy Ethiopian Restaurant & Lounge, Houston
If Ethiopia has a national chicken dish, it just might be doro wat. In this rendition, a bone-in drumstick and thigh are slow-simmered in a spicy slurry, not unlike a thick barbecue sauce, and accompanied by a hard-boiled egg. We’re fond of mashing all the components together to create a barbecued chicken ‘n’ egg salad, which we roll up in torn off pieces of injera. Make a reservation at Lucy Ethiopian Restaurant & Lounge.

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Super Bowls: 7 Winning One-Bowl Dishes for Winter + Beyond

In celebration of the Bowl that’s going down in the Bay Area this weekend, let’s dish about bowls — not plates — of oodles of noodles and other well-rounded meals. These 7 spots will bowl you over with one-bowl dishes highlighting warm ramen noodles, chilled spicy noodles, rice, and more. And, if your favorite team didn’t make it to the big game, consider these bowls to be warm culinary consolation hugs, too. 

The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck, Grand Rapids, Michigan
A cold-weather hotspot in The Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, eight of the 10 appetizers on the menu are served in bowls, as well as all of the pasta dishes and most of the sides. “I personally love to serve dishes in bowls,” says chef Austin Gresham. “If I build a dish in the center of the bowl, the guest is forced to draw the food from the center of the bowl against the wall of the dish. That forces them to enjoy the dish exactly how I want them to. Much better than a ‘decomposed’ plating strategy, where parts of the dish are spread out and guests are able to enjoy components of dishes separately. This could potentially take away from the whole experience of a dish, like a bite of steak without the sauce.” Noodle dishes include Chicken lo Mein — egg noodles, bean sprouts, bok choy, oyster sauce and soy. And there’s Pad Thai on the menu, too — scallops, shrimp, scallions, mint, and peanut sauce. Make a reservation at The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck.

One-bowl dishes

Bubu-Lowry, Denver, Colorado
The Denver Broncos are going to the Super Bowl! You’re not! But … you can to go Bubu-Lowry, where the Chicken Thigh Ramen Bowl with Swiss chard, edamame, pickled fennel, peppers, ginger, and chicken broth is a crowd pleaser. Feeling creative at half time? You can opt to make your own bubu bowl creations. A win-win, for sure. Make a reservation at Bubu-Lowry.

One-bowl dishes

Momofuku CCDC, Washington, D.C.
The mother of all bowls, David Chang’s Momofuku gives a noodle nod to D.C. with its first U.S. capital location in City Center. There are rice and noodle bowls aplenty to cheer for including Momofuku Beef Noodle Soup, which features brisket, baby bok choy, and black pepper. Spice it up with the Chilled Spicy Noodles with Szechuan sausage, spinach, and candied cashews. Or tackle the Ginger Scallion Noodles, rich with pickled shiitake, cucumber, cabbage. Make a reservation at Momofuku CCDC.

One-Bowl Dishes

Il Palio, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Chef Teddy Diggs will serve his pasta “super bowls” as a nod to football’s biggest day. He’s teamed his authentic Italian recipes with playful ingredients to produce winning dishes, such as duck egg carbonara and hay-smoked potato gnocchi infused with wood smoke (the smoky flavors of the grill are infused into the pasta). Andiamo! Make a reservation at Il Palio.

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