We all know that red roses are the queen of Valentine’s Day, and chocolate is king. If you read my blog, you know just how much I like chocolate. Although I never heard of them before this weekend, I am thrilled to introduce Sugar and Plumm, the Purveyors of Yumm!
Chef Pichet Ong spoke to our intimate group about the delicious creations they are whipping up. Perhaps best known as a judge on Top Chef: Just Desserts, award-winning corporate pastry Chef Ong is the whimsical creator behind the sweet and savory confections of Sugar and Plumm. He combines the fond flavors of his childhood with modern cooking techniques to create culinary offerings that are seasonal, pure, light, and delightfully experimental, yet nostalgic.
After introducing us to the brand, he was kind enough to treat us to their For The Love of Chocolate gorgeously packaged box of some of their finest chocolate creations. It is an amazing assortment of hand-crafted artisan chocolates with origins from around the world. This box included two white chocolate blueberry and six pure dark Mexican chocolate ganache. However, the pleasant surprises didn’t end there. Hidden below were chocolates with flavors and aromas consisting of raspberry, vanilla, coconut, hazelnut praline, jasmine tea infused ganache, ginger, milk chocolate and pure dark Peruvian. On top of allowing us to sample some of their finest chocolate creations, we were also give a pair of their brightly colored, delicate French macaroons. It was all I could do to keep myself from digging in immediately.
When I untied the ribbon and opened my brightly colored box, I was blown away by the impeccably pristine chocolates before me. They were almost too pretty to eat. Luckily, that would not stop me. What did stop me was the thought of my boyfriend waiting for me at home. There’s something incredibly romantic about fine artisan chocolates that makes it sinful not to share with a loved one.
On our anniversary, the day before Valentine’s day, I told my boyfriend I had a surprise for him. I told him to close his eyes and open his mouth. After a bit of trepidation, he complied, and boy was he glad he did. His face lit up from ear to ear as he savored his first bite of the dark chocolate ganache-filled heart. I sampled the white chocolate blueberry-filled heart. I’d never tasted anything so complex and exquisite. It was heaven. I was reminded of the first time blueberry wine touched my lips, and I had to have more. The combination of blueberry and white chocolate was pure genius. I forced myself to put the box away so I could savor these the little bits of chocolate heaven for a few days; I simply did not want the experience to end!
There was no way I could possibly ignore the fresh macaroons waiting the ultimate demise. Although there were two, I wanted the best of both worlds. As it’s rather impossible to split a macaroon, I simply bit half for myself and passed the other half to my boyfriend. We made long extended moans as we enjoyed these incredible indulgences, and that was just the vanilla macaroon. I repeated our ritual with the strawberry poppy-seed, and the moans of happiness only grew louder. The flavors transported me back to the beach with my parents snacking on strawberry Twizzlers.
It was amazing how incredibly nostalgic Sugar and Plumm’s confectionaries were. How could so much be contained in such a small morsel?
I was shocked to learn that Sugar and Plumm serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, weekend brunch, and every craving in between. I was expecting a purveyor of sweets, but they create works of art from homemade ice cream and macaroons, to house-smoked salmon and Berkshire pulled pork, our team of master chefs, bakers, and chocolatiers are purveyors of all things delicious and delightful. The bake shop even makes everything handmade, from scratch. The only problem you’ll find is deciding what to order (and possibly that top button on your pants).
Although it’s too late to place an order for Valentine’s Day delivery, if you’re looking for that perfect way to show the special person in your life just how much they mean to you, this is a perfect for Valentine’s Day — Or any of the other 364 days of the year. The have gift boxes for every budget and an in-store experience you won’t soon forget! This Upper West Side spot with Parisian charm and a downtown vibe is sure to knock the socks off anyone who enters and will certainly not disappoint!
What would Valentine’s Day be without chocolate? Whether you embrace the holiday like the warmth of a fireplace or avoid it like the plague, you have to admit, you will always enjoy those little cocoa bits of heaven. From garish heart-shaped boxes to small delicate boxes to simple pink foil-wrapped factory-processed milk chocolates — We all love chocolate (unless of course you have some rare and exotic chocolate allergy). Chocolate makes everything better, especially when coupled with the right companion.
Move over peanut butter! I’ve found chocolate’s new best friend — Casa Noble’s “El Beso de Luz” Margarita. I can see you now. Your furrowed brow and head tilted to the side. Yes. Chocolate and margaritas. But, not just any chocolate or premixed margaritas. I myself would have never thought to put the two together before Single Edition’s Sweets in New York event, but now I will never think of a margarita again without thinking of chocolate.
No matter how you take ’em, nothing quite warms a winter night and brightens up the gloom and gray like a margarita. And, we’ve already established chocolate makes everything better. These two powers combined will warm you from the soul on outward, making any day special and unforgettable.
Casa Noble is an ultra premium tequila meticulously crafted from choice blue agave plants. Employing only traditional methods, slow-cooking the rich agave piñas for 38 hours, they use only the agave hearts to extract their sweet nectar. Their fermentation process is 100% natural and is followed by triple distillation, resulting in a tequila so pure and full of agave flavor it has globally elevated the concept of tequila to new heights.
When the “El Beso de Luz” Margarita first passed Carlos Santana’s lips, he likened it to the first time he fell in love, giving the cocktail its name in tribute to his wife, Cindy. Mixing Casa Noble’s tequila with lime, orange, and Licor 43’s hints of citrus, fruit juices, vanilla and aromatic herbs and spices (43 ingredients in all), this mystical concoction is an experience for the senses worthy of Aphrodite herself.
Pairing that with artisanal chocolates from Essence By Chocolate creates a very unique and sublime tasting experience. As if by Cupid’s own hand, pairing these powerhouses of taste in tandem will leave you taking delight in luscious aromas and flavors.
After carefully preparing our cocktail, my boyfriend and I cozied up in front of the fireplace. Starting with a few sips of my margarita, I was blown away by the freshness and lightness. Before the flavors dissipated, I took a generous bite of the first chocolate. I had the pleasure of sampling the Mango, Chile Pepper & Crystal Tequila Infused in Milk and White Chocolate, the Resposado Tequila and Caramel Infused in Dark & Milk Chocolate and the Black Cherry & Anejo Tequila Infused in Dark Chocolate Dome. Alternating sips with bites until we finished, we were making sounds normally reserved for one’s bedroom. We enjoyed the symphony of flavors stimulating every inch of my tongue (And then we mixed a second drink).
This Valentine’s Day, what could be a more appropriate tribute to love than cuddling up with two glasses of this romantic drink and a box of distinctly paired chocolates?
And, should you find yourself not particularly enjoying this lover’s holiday? I think the citrus and vanilla notes, complimented by the knowledge that you’re indulging in one of Mexico’s finest exports will remedy even the sourest of moods. Top that off with some of the finest chocolates I’ve ever tasted, and you’ll be transported to your own personal heaven.
Continuing with this week’s Valentine’s theme, I want to highlight a study I had the privilege of learning about this weekend while attending Sweets in the City, an event hosted by Single Edition.
107 million Americans are single, and match.com is trying to understand them. Under the guidance of Dr. Helen Fisher for the third year in-a-row, match.com has commissioned a national relationship study, Singles in America. After asking 200 questions to a perfect cross-section of the U.S., they learned fascinating new things you may or may not have heard in the news as of late.
I was shocked to learn both men and women judge each other first by their teeth, followed by grammar. It’s refreshing to know that in this day and age, communication is still important. Still, I’m surprised to see teeth topped the list (as well as proud of my pearly whites).
As a gay man who wants to one day get married, it was also refreshing to hear that commitment is back in style — 90% of those open to marriage believe they can stay married to the same person forever.
As Dr. Fisher reported the results, she was most-surprised by the increased emergence of friends with benefits. As a 28-year-old, I didn’t find this particularly surprising, having had my own FWB relationships.
In related results, virginity is no longer a core value in the dating world — If anything, it’s an obstacle. Gone are the days where the first instance of intercourse between couples occurs on the night marital consummation. I think it’s only natural that people want to test-drive the car before they buy it these days, even though women are less likely to admit it.
Sexting was a particularly interesting territory in the digital age. Although most singles believe sexting could jeopardize their careers or privacy, they still partook in this social taboo, proving love conquers all (including reason).
My favorite statistic was that gay men fell in love more often than anyone else. We were more romantic, more experienced in “love at first sight” and more likely to be “deeply in love” with a long-term partner. Lastly, we had sex with the same frequency as other singles, finally proving the stereotypical perception of gay promiscuity is outdated.
I’m curious if this is due to wider acceptance of homosexuality and gay marriage, or if this has evolved naturally. Dr. Fisher made a point about not making a point of discussing homosexual responses as a separate entity because there are very few differences from the heterosexual responses. We’re not all that different after all.
The most shocking results were that women desired independence and men sought commitment. Single men fall in love faster and want to “move in” together sooner, while women still want to hold onto their girls’ night out.
Hear Dr. Helen Fisher’s own interpretation of the facts from Saturday’s event below:
Valentine’s Day will be upon us before we know it. I myself have never celebrated Valentine’s Day. I haven’t much had the chance to be honest. I’ve only ever been in a one relationship that spanned over the “greeting card holiday,” but when that day came, I was traveling domestically for work.
As we close in on V-Day, I thought it would be nice to shine a light on some of NYC’s finest establishments. This weekend I had the pleasure of attending Sweets in the City, an event hosted by Single Edition. Originally planned as a bus tour of some of Big Apple’s most romantic locations, the recent blizzard forced plans to be altered. Instead, Single Edition scrambled to gather all these great NYC treasures in one place.
Certainly when I say cupcakes and New York City in the same breath, most think Magnolia’s. I’m here to change that. The first confectionary I’d like to share with you is Sprinkles Cupcakes. Located near Bloomingdale’s between 60th & 61st streets, this purveyor of pure, delicious, uncomplicated, scratch-based cupcakes has blown me away.
The days of sharing a late-night romantic slice of pie at a diner have gone by the wayside. And, since the cupcake craze hit the scene, I personally (and unsuccessfully) have been trying to supplant it with a pie craze. After my first bite into a Sprinkles cupcake, my struggle ended and I was officially onboard.
Sprinkles has struck the perfect balance of cake and icing ratio. Most cupcake peddlers botch this entirely, forcing me to scrape half-a-pound of icing off my dessert before biting into it. Sprinkles has mastered this art, and made me reevaluate my love-hate relationship with cake’s red-headed stepchild. But enough about my cupcake hang-ups!
I got to sample Sprinkles’ decadent red velvet. Much to my delight, I didn’t have to sink my teeth in to find out what flavor awaited me. They’ve devised a brilliant color-coded system of dots adorning the cupcakes, revealing the flavors hidden within. Although not all flavors are available every day, they’ve developed a calendar telling you when your favorite flavors will be available.
When I got home from the event, I plopped down on the couch for a romantic evening and split the cupcake in half. The portion size was perfect for sharing, although truth be told, it was so sinfully good that my better half nearly missed out on his half. The cake was incredibly moist and scrumptious, the icing was perfection, and my teeth didn’t ache from sugar overload.
On top of their first-class cupcakes, Sprinkles offers great service as well. No matter the occasion, they can accommodate — weddings, parties, gifts for all occasions, last-minute orders, deliveries and more. They’ll even print your logo, monogram or any graphic on a sugar decoration. The pleasant surprises didn’t end there. When discarding evidence of my indulgence, I was also pleased to see my treat was packaged in a tiny, recyclable and aesthetically simple brown box. Who doesn’t love an eco-friendly, green company these days.
Disappointed you can’t experience this decadence because you don’t live in New York City? — Not to worry. They are baking cupcakes specially for you in Chicago, Washington DC, Dallas, Houston, La Jolla, Newport Beach, Palo Alto, Scottsdale and their flagship store in Beverly Hills. You too can find true love in the bottom of a small brown box.
So this Valentine’s Day, show that special someone just how much they mean to you with one of NYC’s true treasures — Sprinkles cupcakes.
From February 1-14, My Yoga Online will be taking the techniques of yoga—including pranayama, bandhas, asanas, kriyas and more—and applying them to enhance the sensual aspects of your physical and metaphysical self.
The essence of sacred sexuality is to awaken our ability to love. Yoga can be a powerful tool for unlocking life-energy and using it to elevate yourself to a place of creativity, intimacy, and healing. Learn about Tantra, the power of Kundalini energy, and how the second chakra can unlock the power of your creative centre. This yoga video series is dedicated to helping you enhance intimacy, boost your creativity, and improve your health.
Tensions were high between CK and I. Nearly every night, we’d find something to argue about. Although it didn’t always result in an explosive fight, there always seemed to be some kind of noise in the background. The honeymoon was officially over.
When we woke in the morning, CK apologized for the night before, as did I. As we got ready for work, we both agreed underwear was not something we should be fighting about. After making us breakfast, we ate, showered together, got dressed and made our way to the PATH.
A day prior, CK got tickets to see Hot Chip in Brooklyn from a coworker . He asked if I was interested in going. We had already planned to head to Brooklyn to visit Hip since he was recovering from his second hip replacement surgery, so I said, “Sure. Why not?”
While we were at work, we nailed down plans via text and phone. Since I finished much earlier than he did, I hopped on the subway and made my way to his office. He wasn’t quite ready yet, so I asked for his coffee order and hit up Starbucks. I didn’t sleep very well the night before, so I needed something to keep me up and give me the energy to be a fun date.
While riding the subway out to Brooklyn, I asked CK if he requested the time off to join my family on vacation. He reacted to the question as if this was some big surprise. I’d only been asking him about it for a solid month. When he asked me to take time off and book a flight to Miami for his nephews birthdays, I did it without question. Now that I was asking him to take time off to be with me and my family, he didn’t think he could get the time off. I was p*ssed! I found it quite selfish. If he’d requested the time when I originally asked, we wouldn’t have gotten into the argument that ensued. As I said, we seemed to be fighting about everything.
The rest of the ride wasn’t pleasant. It grew to far higher proportions when we got off the subway. I wanted nothing more than to get right back on the subway and make my way home. I no longer had any interest in going to the concert, and I told him that. It takes two to fight, so I take half the responsibility, but he was being rude and treating me in a way I wasn’t willing to subject myself to. As a result, I skulked behind him as we walked through Prospect Park. As he yelled at me for not helping him navigate our way to the concert, I shouted back, “Fine. Just go without me! I don’t want to go anymore. I’m not going to have any fun.” I wanted nothing to do with him or Hot Chip.
I think he understood I was serious and responded by apologizing. “Can we just get past this tonight?” he asked. “Do we have to sacrifice our entire night over this fight?” I didn’t want to just put on a happy face and grin through it. I was angry, and to be honest, I wanted to go home out of spite. The concert was something he wanted to go to, and just as he didn’t put in the effort to come with me on vacation, I wasn’t going to come to the concert. I realized how unproductive this would be, so I agreed to go (not before numerous attempts to make my way back to Hoboken).
When we finally made it in to the concert, CK bought me a few beers, and we cut through the crowd to watch the concert already in progress. Surprisingly, I started to have a better time. Admittedly, I’d never heard of the band before we arrived, and I didn’t recognize any of their music. The fighting ended, and CK was being affectionate. We even made a few friends while moving from place to place among the crowd and managed to bum a smoke off some nice guys.
When the concert was over, it was far too late to visit Hip. I felt really bad considering he was the original plan and reason for the trip to Brooklyn. I wasn’t thrilled we sacrificed his visit for a concert, but in the end, it was CK’s decision.
On the walk to the subway, we found ourselves in a situation once again that birthed yet another argument. When we were a safe distance away from the situation, I began to calmly explain how p*ssed I was at him. Once again, he didn’t think it was a big deal and almost brushed it off as if I was overreacting. I didn’t care. To me, it was so much more. I told him explicitly how much I didn’t like these types of situations, and he completely disregarded those feelings. I don’t think he consciously acted in spite of my request — Quite the opposite. I don’t think he was thinking at all.
After arguing about the matter the rest of the way to the subway, I decided I wasn’t going to engage him in conversation any longer. Clearly I wasn’t getting through to him. We rode the subway with a large group CK decided to befriend. I wanted nothing to do with them. When he asked me questions or tried to introduce me, I simply ignored him. If he wasn’t going to take my feelings into consideration any longer, I wasn’t going to regard his either. I began to wonder if this was something we’d ever get passed. Maybe we were just inherently different. Maybe he would never be able to see things through my eyes. I began to think about what it would mean to end things. Obviously that would be my last resort, but I began to prepare myself for that possibility.
I was also in a tough spot because I was spending the night at his place. By the time we resurfaced in midtown, CK finally realized I was ignoring him. He started to get irritated by this, and yet another fight broke out between us. This time, I didn’t care. I went nuts. I didn’t care who saw us fighting or what they heard as I laid into him. We argued back and forth about the severity of the incident at hand for some time. He didn’t realize it, but as each of these incidents came up, my tolerance for them dwindled more and more. Toward the end of the argument, I think CK finally got a clear idea of the zero tolerance I had left. I’m not the most bending person (and that’s an understatement), but this was one sticking point I wasn’t going to bend on. I didn’t care how small the infraction. He had a choice, and he needed to pick me.
He finally understood my stance and apologized for everything. He didn’t think this fell under my umbrella of discomfort. He finally understood that nothing in this realm would be acceptable to me. We were able to civilly walk the rest of the way back to his place, but the conversation was certainly nonexistent.
When we got back to his bedroom, I brushed my teeth, stripped down to my boxer briefs and climbed right into bed. CK finished what he needed to do before bed and climbed into the opposite side of the bed. That night, we didn’t go to bed fighting, but there wasn’t a lot of love in the bed either.