Thursday, January 19, 2012

Chicago Area Valentine's Day Celebrations & Gift Ideas


While it may seem like this year just started, let’s not forget that Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. If you’re stuck while trying to come up with a way to show the special person in your life how much they mean to you, let us help. From decadent dining options to spicy Mexican meals, ways to celebrate the day with your children or gifts to spoil your sweetheart, here are our suggestions for celebrating the love in your life. 
 

With its ties to Paris, the City of Love, the Chicago French Market (131 N. Clinton St., Chicago, IL 60661; 312-575-0306) is the place to be to celebrate love this season. Delightful Pastries will feature raspberry linzer hearts, raspberry ganache tarts and decorated heart butter cookies for Valentine’s Day. If you’re looking for a more Parisian pastry, stop by Vanille Patisserie for their famous macarons. Light and sweet, these cookies are perfect for Valentine’s Day.

For the traditionalist, Les Fleurs offers unique, handmade bouquets every day. You can’t go wrong with their fresh flowers for Valentine’s Day. For the traditional, you can also find the perfect chocolates are to spoil the one you love at Canady le Chocolatier. They are offering their beautiful nine-piece chocolates in a floral box for $22, and the more extravagant 30-piece floral box is $50. If you are looking for a plainer box, Canady also offers their 11-piece box for $17 and a one-pound box for $40.

If you are shopping for a coffee lover, Lavazza Espression in the French Market is giving away a free cup and saucer with the purchase of a pound of their gourmet coffee for $14.75 or $15 through February 29. Lavazza also is offering decadent specialty coffees during February. The Meringato, espresso and Nutella crowned with whipped cream ($3.59), and the Strawberry and Strawberry Choco Nespressone ($2.95 to $3.75) are delicious ways to celebrate early. Lavazza also offers delicious food to celebrate Valentine’s Day. While they will have the more traditional Valentine’s Day Sugar Cookies ($3.99), they also feature a mouthwatering Torta di Cioccolato ($4.50), artisan crafted chocolate cake layered with raspberry and covered with ganache, and Crostata di Cioccolato ($3.99), an artisan crafted chocolate ganache tart. All Lavazza’s special Valentine’s Day food items are available January 23 through February 17.

For a more luxurious gift, Abbey Brown Soap Artisan offers many handmade soaps, lotions and bath salts in an array of tempting scents. If you plan to celebrate the holiday with a little something bubbly, Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread and Wine has an array of luxury gifts available. Pastoral is offering a Caviar for Two Collection, a gift medley featuring a tin of Sturgeon Caviar from Italy; Picolo, a creamy California cheese; cocktail toasts and a bottle of L Mawby Blanc de Blanc. Additionally, they are featuring a Chocolat et Fromage gift box, which includes an enticing assortment of chocolates from around the world and two cheeses to pair with them. This box is also available with one of Pastoral’s wine selections.  If you want to celebrate the holiday with the one you love before Valentine’s Day, Pastoral’s gift boxes are available at their website, www.pastoralartisan.com
 

 
The bakery at Everest Burger (91 Green Bay Rd., Glencoe, IL 60022; 847-242-0909) will feature delicious Valentine’s Day treats made on-site from all-natural ingredients. They will have heart-shaped Valentine’s Day cookies and beautiful strawberry cupcakes for $2 each. They’re the perfect treat to take home to your family or for kids to share with their classmates.




Fat Rosie’s Taco and Tequila Bar (1890 W. Main St., St. Charles, IL 60174; 630-762-0235) is hosting their annual Amor Valentine’s Day Dinner 7 p.m. Tuesday, February 14. The dinner will feature Executive Chef Raul Arreola’s Recipes of Love and two Classica Margaritas. The Amor Valentine’s Day Dinner is $65 per couple, excluding tax and gratuity. Reservations are required.

The Amor Valentine’s Day Dinner starts with Uchepos Gratinado, a corn tamale with poblano cream, melted cheese and esquites. This is followed by a choice of either Ensalada de Palmitos, hearts of palm with mixed greens and roasted red peppers drizzled in Cilantro Serrano dressing or Sopa de Chipachole, tomato chipotle broth with crabmeat and grilled asparagus. For the third course, diners can choose between Pescado Adobado, a fresh fish of the day served with Adobo sauce, roasted fingerling potatoes and baby spinach or Puerco in Mole Verde, pork loin in Oaxaca green mole with whole black beans and mashed potato. The meal ends with the delicious Chabelas Cake, a Tres Leches cake with fresh fruit and berry sauce.

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar (25 E. Ohio St., Chicago, IL 60611; 312-329-9463 and 960 Milwaukee Ave., Lincolnshire, IL 60069; 847-793-0333) is extending their Valentine’s Day celebration from February 12 through 14. This is always a popular destination for Valentine’s Day, so make sure to make your reservations early. Each couple celebrating Valentine’s Day with Fleming’s these days also will receive a $25 dining card toward a future rendezvous at Fleming’s. Don’t miss out on this amazing offer.


Fleming’s Valentine’s Day menu includes a three mouthwatering entrées, special wine pairings and a decadent dessert. Each Valentine’s Day entrée is $69.95. These special, decadent meals include Filet Mignon and Prawns, filet mignon on a bed of sautéed Portobello mushrooms and smoky bacon, paired with crab-stuffed prawns and a lemon garlic butter sauce; Prime New York Strip and King Crab, which is presented Oscar-style, topped with butter-poached King Crab, grilled asparagus and champagne béarnaise sauce and served with a sweet potato quenelle; and Lobster and Lobster, Colossal North Atlantic lobster tail with drawn butter and served with lobster mac and cheese.  Finish this delicious meal with a luxurious dessert for two, Red Velvet Cake served with Espresso Truffles for $9.50.

While you enjoy Fleming’s delicious Valentine’s menu, don’t forget the wine. Fleming’s recommended wine pairings for their holiday meal are Tiamo, Chianti Italy, 2010; Terra Valentine, Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, 2007; and Roderer Estate, Brut Rosé Anderson Valley NV. Each wine is available by the bottle and by the glass. Fleming’s also is featuring   special Valentine’s cocktail, the Bella-Tini. It’s a special way to toast to your Valentine. This bellini-inspired cocktail with Belvedere vodka, peach purée and Mas Fi Cava sparkling wine is $9.95 a glass.

Make reservations for Fleming’s Valentine’s Day celebration by calling either the Chicago or Lincolnshire location or visiting http://www.flemingssteakhouse.com.



Francesca’s restaurants locations are celebration Five Days of Valentines Friday, February 10 through Tuesday, February 14. During these five days, Francesca’s will feature Pizza con Prosciutto e Rucola, arugula, lemon, olive oil, roasted plum tomatoes, mozzarella and Prosciutto di Parma, for $11.99. They will also feature the festive Ravioli Tartufati, heart-shaped cheese-filled pasta with a garlic Parmesan cream sauce, fresh tomatoes and a drizzle of white truffle oil for $16.99. (This pasta will be available at all locations except Francesca’s Forno). Francesca’s special edition "Hearts on Fire" Martini will also be available for $9. This tasty drink is made with vodka, Cointreau, Aperol, Disaronno and fresh lemon juice. For dessert, Francesca’s offers beautiful Torta di Frutta Della Passione, a passion fruit tart with white chocolate cream and fresh berries. A Valentine’s evening at Franceca’s is sure to be a treat.

Francesca’s Bryn Mawr (1039 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Chicago, IL 60660; 773-506-9261) will be kicking off their brunch specials soon, but if you dine with them during Valentine’s week, February 10 through 14, you can receive a gift certificate for $10 off brunch at the restaurant, which can be redeemed from February 18 through April 15.

Francesca’s on Chestnut (200 E. Chestnut St., Chicago, IL 60611; 312-482-8800) is offering a special menu for Valentine’s Day Diners. The St. Valentine’s Day Couples Special is $103.99 for four courses and a bottle of wine, not including tax and gratuity.

The St. Valentine’s Day Cupid Special comes with a bottle of either MASI Modello Delle Venezie Bianco 2009 or MASI Mondello Delle Venezie Rosso 2008. Couples start the meal with Alaskan Snow Crab Claws, four crab claws over julienne lettuce and chives, served with honey Dijon mustard sauce to share. This is followed by the Francesca Salad, a delicious mix of romaine lettuce, endive, radicchio, blue cheese and fresh vegetables to share. Each diner may choose his or her own entrée from three delicious choices, including Braised Beef Brassato with potato gratinatti, crispy asparagus and natural juice, Pork Tenderloin wrapped in prosciutto with a bed of sautéed spinach and oven-dried tomatoes in an oregano wine sauce, or Mahi Mahi, almond crusted mahi with fennel, beets, baby greens, and champagne mustard sauce. This delicious and romantic meal concludes with Chocolate Mousse for the couple to share.


Valentine’s Day celebrating isn’t just for adults! Francesca’s Fortunato (40 Kansas St., Frankfort, IL 60423; 815-464-1890) is celebrating Junior Cupid Day 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, February 11. Parents are invited to bring their Junior Cupids in wearing pink or red, and they will get a complimentary special dessert with their meal. There will also be the opportunity to wine a $25 gift certificate to Toys R Us by guessing the correct number of Sweethearts in the jar.


Planning to dine at Francesca’s Tavola (208 S. Arlington Heights Rd., Arlington Heights, IL 60005; 847-394-3950) the week of Valentine’s Day?  The restaurant is offering a special personal touch for your Valentine’s Day. When making their reservation, guests can order a box of homemade truffles with a personalized note for only $10. It will be waiting at your table when you come to enjoy your Valentine’s Day meal. It’s a sweet, personalized treat to show your dinner companion just how much you care.
Francesca’s at the Promenade (641 E. Boughton Rd., Bolingbrook, IL 60440; 630-739-6300) has partnered with Aloft Hotel (500 Janes Ave., Bolingbrook, IL 60440; 630-410-6367) to create a special romantic package for couples. Throughout the month of February, enjoy a one-night stay for two at Aloft Hotel and a fantastic dinner at Francesca’s at the Promenade for $199. With such a great partnership, we can be sure it will be an evening to remember.

If you’re looking to keep the romance alive after Valentine’s Day, Francesca’s Tavola (208 S. Arlington Heights Rd., Arlington Heights, IL 60005; 847-394-3950) is hosting a romantic wine dinner 7 p.m. Thursday, February 16. The dinner will feature the wines of Buglioni Vineyards with aphrodisiac foods. The dinner is $55 per person, excluding tax and gratuity. Reservations are required.

The evening begins with a cocktail hour featuring Ostriche di Amore, oysters on a half shell with a pomegranate mionette. This is paired with "Il Vigliacco" Brut Rose. The first course for the evening is Carciofi al Miele, shaved sunchokes on Romaine leaves with honey, roasted lemon and pecorini sardo paired with "Il Intruso" Bianco Veronese. Following this is Orecchiete de Rapini, orecchiete, rapini, roasted garlic and calabrian chiles paired with Alpolicella Classico. The third course is Costine Bue con Polenta, braised short ribs, creamy herbed polenta and asparagus. This is a perfect pair for "Il Bugiardo" Valpolicella Classicao Superiore Ripasso DOC. The evening of aphrodisiacs ends with Duo di Macaroon, an almond and walnut fig filled macaroon with gorgonzola dolce and date and raisin conserva. "L’Amarone" Amarone della Valpolicella is paired with the dessert course. Guests also receive homemade chocolate truffles to take home and continue the celebration.


Guanajuato Contemporary Mexican & Tequila Bar (73 Green Bay Rd., Glencoe, IL 60022; 847-242-0501) will feature a special Cornish Game Hen with garlic spinach, black beans and smoky red salsa to share for $24.95 on Valentine’s Day. For a unique Valentine’s Day dessert, try Guanajuato’s delicious Strawberry Flan made with real roses for $9.95. A date night at Guanajuato would not be complete without one of their legendary margaritas. For Valentine’s Day, Guanajuato is featuring their amazing Prickly Pear Margarita and a Blood Orange Margarita for $10. The restaurant also will have live music  on Valentine’s Day and be open until 10 p.m. To treat your Valentine an authentic, romantic trip south of the border while staying on the North Shore, make sure to visit Guanajuato.




For the art lover in your life, or for a unique and beautiful gift, visit the Judy A. Saslow Gallery (300 W. Superior, Chicago, IL 60654; 312-943-0530). Currently, the gallery is displaying outsider art as a part of its Far Out: 2012 show. When you make a piece from this show part of your home, your Valentine will always remember this year as a special one. Whether your loved one desires a painting, a print or a sculpture, the Judy A. Saslow Gallery has an array of lovely options. The gallery also showcases intricate handmade jewelry. Visit the Judy A. Saslow Gallery Tuesday through Friday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.




 
Maxwell’s at the Club (500 N. Kingsbury St., Chicago, IL 60610; 312-527-5800) will feature a special Valentine’s Day menu in addition to their normal a la carte menu 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. February 14. This prix fixe menu is $40 per person, not including alcohol, and includes an appetizer, salad, entrée and dessert. Entrée selections include steak and lobster tail, seafood and chateaubriand for two. Dinner guests may also attend the Valentine's Day Party Riverview from 6 to 10 p.m. at no extra cost. This party includes a hors d'oeuvres buffet, cash bar and performance by cover band Midnight Sun. The cost of attending the Valentine’s Day Party without Dinner at Maxwell’s is $30 per person. For dinner reservations call Maxwell’s at 312-527-5800, extension 301.

Prairie Grass Cafe (601 Skokie Blvd., Northbrook, IL 60062; 847-205-4433) has Valentine celebrations available for diners of all ages. February 13, children are welcome to come in for dinner and decorate cookies for their parents. Each child will receive three heart-shaped cookies, one to eat and two to give away. They will decorate them using Prairie Grass’s house-made, all natural frosting and receive a card to decorate and box to present it in for just $14. It’s a great way for them to show their parents love.

If you’re looking to make naturally colored icing at home, why not borrow a recipe from Prairie Grass? You’ll need two cups of powdered sugar, two and a half tablespoons of heavy cream and a small beet, coarsely grated. Blend the sugar and cream with a hand mixer until smooth and stir in the grated beet a little at a time until reaching the desired color. Press the icing through a fine sieve to remove beet strands.

Prairie Grass also is featuring a special Valentine’s Day menu of February 14. The menu features half-dozen Oysters Rockefeller for $15. Delicious Shrimp Cakes with tomato chutney, forbidden black rice and crunchy vegetable slaw make a delicious entrée for $26. Prairie Grass will also feature Bison Filet Mignon as an entrée with sweet and savory potato gratin and "River Valley Ranch" mushroom ragout for $42. Prairie Grass’s specialty dessert offerings include the PGC "Date" Cake, rich cake infused with Medjool Dates and covered in a sticky toffee sauce, topped with homemade vanilla bean ice cream for $7.50 or their famous Mom’s Cherry Pie, featuring Door County Sour Cherries for $7.50.

The Valentine’s Day Sparkler, Prairie Grass’s special holiday cocktail, is made with a dash of Angostura Orange Bitters, half an ounce of Mathilde Raspberry Liquor and five ounces of Prosecco. It is garnished with a delightful raspberry juice ice cube in the shape of a heart. For $11, it’s a great cocktail to celebrate the holiday.

Prairie Grass Cafe’s unique and tasty menu is perfect for a memorable holiday with the one you love.
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