Monday, February 9, 2009

Valentine's Day Guide: By Guest Blogger Mr. Z!

Writer's Note: I'm not sure if Stamford Talk has ever posted an unsolicited guest post on the blog, but apparently my generous "donation" of a giggle gift card was too much for her to pass up. Stamford Talk Note: Yes, yes it was.

Okay guys, it's here...Valentine's Day 2009. If you're anything like me, you are probably still not ready for the big event. The good news is that you have all week to figure it out. The bad news is that Valentine's Day is a Saturday this year, so there will be lots of extra pressure to make it an all-day affair. So, what do we do to make this a winning week?

First, of course, are flowers. Now, I'm told by reliable sources (Hello Mrs. Z!) that it's often a winning proposition to have flowers delivered to the place of employment (if applicable). We've already learned that Valentine's Day is on a Saturday, so unless your special someone works on the weekends, you're going to have to go with early flowers. Now, I think this is a huge opportunity: Send those flowers as early this week as possible. Not only are you likely to get fresher flowers and more reliable delivery, your love interest will be able to enjoy the flowers all week long. That's a win-win.
You may recall that a certain Super Bowl commercial told us to use Teleflora because the other places deliver dead flowers. Well, I agree about the dead part, but Teleflora's not much better. With flowers, like jewelry (we'll get there later), it pays dividends to strike up a relationship with a local business and use them each time you need a flower arrangement delivered. They'll be able to create the precise arrangement you want and will often give you a better price than you'll find online. In Stamford, options include Nobu Florist and Stamford Florist.

Next, well, let's go with chocolate. If your recipient is allergic to chocolate (Hello Mrs. Z!), you may skip this paragraph. Chocolate is a classic Valentine's Day gift. Fortunately, Stamford has you covered. If you're looking for big-name chocolate, you can pick up Godiva or Lindt at the much-maligned Stamford Town Center. (Yes, you Northies can just visit the Lindt store on High Ridge Rd.) Down on Bedford Street you can find decadent treats at Schakolad. It's still a chain, but at least it's not in the mall, right? If you're dead set against the chains, you can also branch out and visit the amazing Chocopologie. I know it's not in Stamford, but I've bumped into the chocolatier, Fritz Knipschidlt, in town, so we'll give him a pass.

OK, we've got flowers and chocolate out of the way, so let's move on to dinner. Stamford has no shortage of excellent restaurants, and our friends at Chowhound and OpenTable can be of assistance here. I'm an unabashed Napa & Co. fan. Chef Bill Taibe creates simple, fresh, and delicious dishes that will please the most finicky date. Reservations at Napa might be hard to snag at this late date, but it's worth a try. If Napa isn't an option, two nearby restaurants are more than suitable replacements: Market, winner of the "2008 Best New Restaurant in the FC", has a great, lively, atmosphere and offers up excellent entrees. It's really hard to go wrong there. Just around the corner from Market is Duo, a Chowhound and ST darling in 2008. It's a small restaurant that offers good sushi and an innovative "East-West" menu. ST just posted a review of Duo's new offerings, so check that out when making your decision. Another of Stamford's classic fine dining establishments is Telluride. I've always thought Telluride has a more casual, country feel than the other places downtown. It's got plenty of fans in town, so have no fear. Steak lovers can choose from The Capital Grille, Morton's, or locally-owned Bennett's Steak & Fish. I haven't tried any of these myself, but check out Chowhound for reviews. There are a lot more restaurants that we could write about in Stamford, not to mention the excellent options in towns like Wilton, Norwalk, and Greenwich, but we'll consider this a good start. Finally, if there's a restaurant you really want, but can't score a table for Saturday, you can always build off the early flower delivery and try a night earlier in the week. There's nothing wrong with making Valentine's Day a week-long affair.

Alright, we're off to quite a good start here, and you surely could wrap up a very successful Valentine's Day with just chocolate, flowers, and dinner. However, some of you might feel the need to show your affection with a little something extra, so let's close up shop with a few quick tips from the Stamford Talk archives: 2008 Holiday Shopping Guide, Beautiful Bracelets I'll Never Wear, and Bookstore Guide for Stamford Readers. A few minutes of reading and you'll find some excellent ideas... There's a mention of the Noelle Spa, where you can pick up a gift certificate for a "Spa Relaxation Day". There's a tip on unique jewelry at the descriptively named Artistic Hand Blown Glass store. If your special someone is into reading, ST gives props to Barrett Bookstore, up in Darien (we're straying again, but it's only 1 exit past Stamford on I-95). If wine is the thing, make a reservation for one of the Monday evening wine tastings at Napa & Co. They offer a new class every week where you'll learn lots of interesting facts and have a chance to taste 5 to 7 different wines. Of course, finding the right gift can be hard. If you just can't come up with an idea, take one last stroll through the Stamford Town Center and maybe you'll find something nice for the office, kitchen, or family room.

Now that I've spent all this time dispensing advice, I better go get going on my own list! If you think I missed a good tip, please share...

Related Stamford Talk post:
--FEB 12, 2008-- Valentine's Day=Food, and Stamford Restaurants Do Not Disappoint


Whitemist said...

Agree 100% on the internet and telephone floral thing, they will disappoint. I am stuck on NOBU, but agree that Stamford Florist is okay also.
One side note on the restaurants, do not be deceived by appearances, the "New Twenty of Stamford" has been completely compromised and is a bad Park Place Diner, do not take your significant other there!

Stamford Downtown Staff said...

Excellent infomation! Just recently, I became a fan of Emme of Capri. Food is great and its small and intimate, so you can't go wrong.

Julie said...

For those, like me, who think flowers are a bit of a waste since, if they don't arrive dead, they end up that way, I would highly recommend Edible Arrangements - YUM! They cover the chocolate angle too :) Thanks for the restaurant suggestions!

Mr. Z said...

Whitemist -- I haven't ventured into Twenty yet, and I'm not about to try, so thanks for the tip!

SDS -- I've heard nice things about Emme of Capri too, but haven't tried it myself.

Julie -- excellent tip on Edible Arrangements, I've used them before and they make a nice gift, especially for someone in an office with plenty of people to share all that fruit and chocolate. Bonus points that there is a location on Main St in Stamford!