Thom Rafferty Great Valentine’s Gifts on a Budget & Feel Free to Treat Yourself Too)
It’s Valentine’s Day!! Maybe you are ahead of Curvewire.com , but if you are running like most of my friends, they are asking me what to do about Valentine’s Day that’s different. Considering that it’s Thursday, Valentine’s Day can be stretched for 4 days– giving you an option to not POP everything al at once but also do things that take a bit more time and thus more enjoyable for you and your partner. Even if you are just hanging with friends, there’s a LOT you can do. So keep visiting every day for these 4 days for the best of things you can do, buy, experience or share. Gifts don’t have to be given immediately and sometimes the anticipation is the most intoxicating part about creating memories.
Courtesy of CurveWire.com, friend, writer, and fellow Angeleno, Thom Rafferty,
Artisan food is never a one-off. You go out to dinner…it’s a one-off. Now, dining out can be special…but it can also come up short. If you go with award winning specialty foods you don’t have to worry about an “off” night at a restaurant. My favorite specialty foods come from a Bay Area artisan (Marin County) named ROBERT LAMBERT. He’s won lots of awards and media praise, but what I love most is the notion that he pours the finest ingredients and a small batch artisan passion into all he makes. The dedication to making these specialties a magnificent, layered, taste experience is evident with every memorable use.
To try his Hot Ginger Caramel Sauce is to understand why you crave it. He’s also crafted some special, limited run chocolate sauces to coincide with Valentine’s Day (Mojito Mint and Raspberry Rose). Astounding! He has a Valentine’s Gift Box (two creations that you choose go into a beautiful, affordable, presentation that is delivered to California residents in 1-2 days for no-hassle ordering): http://bit.ly/TCTzSB Lambert’s array of great gift ideas and also shares recipe videos (see above) that are easy, elegant and add some culinary cool to your personal skill sets: http://www.robertlambert.com
Not so much into sweets, then you should turn to that ultimate caffeine high with
ArabicaDabra.com for absolutely amazing coffee!
Next up…coffee! Coffee and Valentine’s? What, can’t lovers also be coffee lovers? Besides, these aren’t normal coffees. ArabicaDabra Coffee is based in Los Angeles. Proprietor Jackie Mendelson only buys beans grown by geographically isolated growers around the world. These people have fertile lands, incredible farming skills and a willing entrepreneurial spirit…but they remain locked in a cycle of poverty– if not for people like Jackie to buy their beans and make a market for them. Since she already goes to the expense to serve this greater good, she finishes her process by artisan roasting the beans.
This includes “quenching” the beans – immersing them in water while still heated from the roasting. This extracts the inner flavor oils to the surface for the most flavorful, aromatic coffee experience you can imagine–the stuff of coffee dreams and simply the best coffees you will have anywhere! There are Valentine-themed gift ideas and coffee club gifts for your perusal. Visit the shopping page which includes a breakdown of the coffee varietals offered: http://www.tastymagic.com/shop/ Same day pick-up is possible for gifts if you are an L.A. resident. You can also buy ArabicaDabra coffees at select Whole Foods and via Fancifull Baskets.
Fancifull has been in business more than a quarter century and they make incredible themed baskets, baby gifts and floral arrangements. It would be easy to miss the place from the outside. There’s no big neon sign, or anything like that at 5617 Melrose (slightly west of Gower between Gower & Larchmont), but what you find inside is an oasis of exceptional wines, cheeses, chocolates, desserts, specialty foods, coffees, breads and baked treats. The staff is awesome (owners Terry & Wally August, and staff, Kathy Marienski). They are friendly, smart, fun–the kind of people you get to know on a first name basis the first time you pop in. If you are going to a dinner party; need a special cheese; some great chocolate, coffee, or specialty gifts, this is your “go-to” store. It’s an awesome place! It’s like those “secret finds” you happen upon as you stroll Manhattan…only it’s right here in L.A.!
Lest you think this is all about food & beverage (two personal favorites), there are some other ideas worthy of exploration.
If you love movies (like me) you can add to the above with some movie gift cards, or perhaps an American Cinematheque membership: http://www.americancinematheque.com/–one of the few things my ex-wife and I agreed on was how you present your home and the things in it. If a special person in your life has a special painting, photo or poster that needs a like-kind presentation, look no further than GET THE PICTURE: http://www.funhousemirrors.com/ This husband and wife business run by Frank and Clair McDonald has been around for about 28 years. They specialize in custom-framing and installation. This is superior craftsmanship. Even considering the cost of time and materials, they still do something remarkably rare: they work with people on budget constraints. Having something custom-framed for a person is indeed another way of expressing your feelings.
Thom Rafferty truly has a wealth of knowledge about hidden “bests” in Los Angeles and Southern California. Find him on twitter- @TSRLA is his handle. Follow him, he’s amazing. I love his wit and he’s very helpful. He CARES about the important things. While money might be important, it’s not the only important thing in life. Appreciation of hard work, dedication and a passion for things, hobbies, people are critical for being happy and sharing love– whether it’s a love of a person or a love of wine, food, bicycling or seeing flicks.
Don’t forget to be following Thom Rafferty on CurveWire.com
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