by Emily Materick

Fair trade sipping chocolate and macarons from MoRoCo Chocolat. Photo: Emily Materick

The quickest way to the heart is through the senses so we’ve put together a list of ways to impress your favourite discerning diner and help you get a fix on the perfect gift.

L is for Luxurious Learning
From economical elegance to decadent delights, there’s an educational experience for all tastes taking place around Valentine’s day. For those with a tooth that runs more towards the savoury side, Leslieville Cheese Market offers a pairing workshop at their east location. Learn how to end your meals on the perfect note by accompanying tarts and treats with salty and sweet ($20 per person including a glass of wine, February 11th.) Locavore haven Culinarium puts on its party shoes with a bubbles and brie tasting featuring artisan cheeses and sparkling wines ($54 per person, February 12th). Finally, get your hands deliciously dirty while learning the art of truffle making at Stubbe from a sixth generation chocolatier. The intensive two hour class focuses on understanding ganache and flavour combinations ($80 per person, February 18th).

O is for On Beyond Godiva
Tired of the classic selection box? Tucked all over Toronto are tempting and unique shops concocting special assortments in the name of love’s favourite festival.

Presented in a delicate hand painted heart, a selection of Delight’s completely fair trade and organic solid chocolates are sweetly shaped into hearts and cherubs ($8.95, also available in 50g bag for $4.50). Charming and cheerful owner Jennifer Rashleigh can help you make a decision between flavours such as a tangy Quebec blue cheese or smoked sea salt caramel to nestle in a ornate edible box ($11.95, includes 4 chocolates).

Lush and darkly whimsical, MoRoCo Chocolat evokes a sense of romance every day of the year. The front boutique is primed for fantasy – a table set with chocolate, from the forks to the plates to the decorative birds and fruits, is surrounded by pastel cookie studded trees. Intricate chocolate boxes carry hearts filled with caramel rose, passion fruit praline and a 70 percent dark chocolate ganache ($40 for the set, includes 8 chocolates). Plump heart shaped macarons sandwich, candied violet and strawberry or passion fruit buttercreams ($3 each).

Be an adventurous admirer at Xococava. Using ingredients from Forbes Wild Foods, chocolatier Brendan Platts marries chocolate to black trumpet mushrooms and mountain cranberries in his Savory and Wild collections ($2 per truffle). Start a spark with Truffles for Two, a trio of passion fruit reduction in white chocolate, strawberry paired with 15 year old balsamic and a milk chocolate infused with canela, a Mexican cinnamon ($14 for set). Other toothsome confections include chocolate roses ($5 each or $14 for a mini bouquet) and high end S’Mores using Xococava’s house made marshmallows ($3.25 each).

When entering Soma, simply the smell can send hearts a-flutter. Here they have embraced the season in full force with an ode to red. Crimson barberries and sumac, both bright with lemony citrus flavour, are the shining stars of Soma’s Valentine collection. The Ruby Red Bar ($7.50), a dark Peruvian chocolate base shot through with wild cherries, barberries, cranberries, cocoa nibs and dusted with sumac showcases the theme. Individual tastes are featured in a Melty Love Heart filled with chocolate tumbled barberries ($18) and the limited edition Sumac truffle ($2). Heart shaped sospiri ($5), which means little sighs, are airy meringues that melt on your tongue.

V is for Voluptuous Victuals
Some of the best gifts are the ones you make yourself so considering staying in with your sweetheart and preparing a meal together from the best our farmers have to offer. Visit The Stop’s Green Barn Market early Saturday morning to earn yourself a restful Valentine’s Sunday. Plan a seasonal rustic dinner by roasting up root vegetables such as banana fingerlings, beets and jewel toned baby carrots with sustainable meats from Scotch Mountain. Bake a pie from a variety of Ontario apples or simply choose from the bounty of baked goods available. The Green Barn Farmer’s Market is located at the Artscape Wychwood Barns, 601 Christie St, Saturdays 8am-12pm.

E is for Extravagantly Exclusive
If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with! Be your own best Valentine this year. Indulge in the local flavours of a late brunch at Gilead Café (4 Gilead Place, 647-288-0680) or Sadie’s Diner (504 Adelaide St, 416-777-2343). Curl up on the couch with that book you keep meaning to read and a mug of Chocosol’s fair trade sipping chocolate ($13.99 for 270g, available at Grassroots) or snag a reservation for a velvet booth at MoRoCo Chocolat for their all day high tea.

Emily MaterickEmily Materick is a second year Pastry Arts student at George Brown Chef School, a voracious reader of food literature and a maker of tasty things. She also likes capturing those tasty things with her camera.