I spent Valentine’s Day this year with my beau of 2.5 months officially (and 13.5 months unofficially). I surprised him with tickets to the 2:55pm UltraAVX showing of Deadpool at Chinook Centre, then we met up with my friend Emily, and her date, at Boxwood Cafe. I was really excited because I’ve always wanted to try this quaint little rustic cafe in Central Memorial Park, but somehow never got around to it. The special multi-course Chef’s Tasting Menu for the night was as follows:
Roasted Beet and Dark Chocolate Soup
Spiced Pumpkin Seed Brittle, Whipped Crème Fraîche
Mitchell Brothers Angus Beef Tartare
Saskatoon Berry Chutney, Arugula, Brassica Mustard, Parsnip Chips
Wild West Steelhead Trout
Seared Scallop Dumpling, House Fennel and Pear Kimchi, Smokey Dashi Broth
Entrée Choice Of:
Sustainable Seafood Hot Pot for 2
Salt Spring Island Mussels, Savoury Clams, Albacore Tuna, Humboldt Squid, Charred Ginger-Tomato Sauce, Crispy Noodles
Rotisserie Lamb Shoulder
Merguez Sausage Cassoulet, Butter Braised Kale, Mint Pistou
Sweet Pure Honey Cake
Sweetened Ricotta, Cranberry Jelly, Bee Pollen Brittle
We started off with some west coast oysters and cranberry mignonette, as well as some Riesling. I think we all expected a teensy bit more in terms of taste, unfortunately. While I highly respect their focus on local and fresh ingredients, almost all of the dishes seemed a bit under-seasoned. Although I would say I’m a bit more on the pungent than subtle side, flavour-wise, I found little depth even in the dishes that boasted a bit more taste. I would return to try their porchetta sandwich, which I’ve heard wonderful things about, but I think I would pass on splurging for a special occasion there again. However, I was just happy to be celebrating my Valentine’s Day with loved ones. Nothing beats good company!
In terms of gift-giving, I took a page out of my own playbook: a personalized care package/gift basket. I really think that gift baskets get a bad rap because people are so used to those generic foodstuff baskets (do mass-produced coffee sachets and overly sweet chocolates ring a bell?) and cheaply wrapped “spa” baskets (think no-name, chemically scented vanilla bubble bath sets). The problem with those are that they’re made to supposedly appeal to a wide variety of gift receivers you’re less-than-well-acquainted with (e.g. hosts, co-workers, mother-in-laws, etc). However, when you actually put in the time and effort to hand-select a variety of products for someone, it shows.
I picked up a cute little DIY Painted Crate kit from Chapters (that happened to be on clearance for 9 bucks!) to serve as the foundation of the gift basket. Then, I filled it with a few of his favourite things (or items he’s mentioned he wants) from in and around Calgary.
Clockwise from top left:
- Hermès Eau d’Orange Verte body wash (Holt Renfrew)
- Makers & Merchants garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil (Bite Groceteria)
- Bulleit bourbon whiskey (Oak & Vine)
- Arborist arrow patterned socks (The Uncommons)
- Richer or Poorer polka dot patterned socks (The Livery)
- Paykoc Imports copper mug (The Livery)
- Bittermilk Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Fashioned cocktail mixer (Bite Groceteria)
- SweetDoe Chocolate (The Livery)
- Not pictured: Japanese Juniper Bonsai + a tiny terrarium lion decoration (Plant Terrariums)
If you’re thinking that some of the items I included in my gift basket were also suggestions on my Calgary Valentine’s Day Gift Guide, you’re right! Part of why I started this blog was because I truly just wanted to share some personal insight and ideas with others. I’m not paid to promote anything or anywhere—nor would I ever recommend a product I wouldn’t actually use myself. I also love supporting local, because Calgary has seen tons of awesome new talent popping up over the last few years.
Anyways, I hope everyone else had a great Valentine’s Day! Or, if you were anti-Valentine’s Day, that you managed to get in a viewing of Deadpool (wasn’t that the best Stan Lee cameo yet?). You may have also noticed that I skipped last week’s Sunday Best post, but I like to think it was because I was committed to being present and thankful for the week’s events in real life. However, I promise I’ll be back soon!