Valentine's Gift Ideas That Don't Suck

If you did any shopping at Target, your local grocery or any other retail store this weekend, you probably noticed the aisles full of red and pink boxes filled with terrible chocolate, kitschy greeting cards and stuffed animals made from the suffering of children in far-off countries.

Valentine's Day is right around the corner, and landmines are everywhere. Here are some gift ideas if your lover also happens to be a lover of food.

Make Your Own Mixology Kit I love this idea because you can spend $15 or $500 and have a nice gift either way. Go to a good kitchen supply store and check out their bar tools. Blow off the overpriced stainless steel tool kits that always have one item you'll never use and build your own instead. Citrus presses, vegetable peelers, jiggers, shakers, strainers, bar mats and bar towels are all great ways to tell your lover to shut up and make you a drink you think they're the hottest bartender in town.

Good Wood Not that kind, dude. Nothing is worse than working on a tiny surface. Having a massive cutting board makes so many kitchen tasks infinitely more enjoyable. Go big -- bigger than you think -- and don't cheap out on this one. A high-quality piece of maple will last a life time.

If you choose this gift be sure to ask for some mineral oil to treat the board before you use it. Otherwise you'll end up with scrap wood.

Fermentation Crock You think I'm joking but I'm not. Nothing says I love you like a big pot of cabbage bubbling and fermenting away. These crocks are great for making lots more than sauerkraut. Consider this a perfect gift for food nerds of the highest order.

Chocolate that actually tastes good Go to a local chocolate shop and buy the good stuff. Trust me, spending $12 on a small, handful of chocolate is way better than spending that same amount on a massive box of waxy truffles that taste like flowers and cardboard.

Cooking Classes Give the gift that will keep you fed for the rest of the year. While I haven't been for myself, I've received two recommendations for the folks at Milestone. Central Market puts on some great classes as well. And if you're single, don't let that stop you from playing along. These classes are a great way to meet new people.

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