Text and Photographs by Meg A. Parsont
I’ll admit it: I’m a sucker for Valentine’s Day. I find it hard to be cynical about a holiday that encourages the eating of chocolate and the exchange of sweet tokens of affection. In honor of the occasion, I strolled around the Upper West Side and discovered Valentine’s Day delights suited to every budget and ranging from volumes of romantic poetry to vintage cufflinks to the ultimate indulgence: a cashmere-covered hot water bottle.
What would Valentine’s Day be without chocolate? For a tempting array of bonbons and a big helping of nostalgia, Mondel Chocolates (established in 1943) has everything to satisfy even the sweetest tooth, from deluxe boxed assortments of chocolates to individual pieces, including their famous buttercrunch toffee and ever-popular almond bark. 2913 Broadway (114th) http://www.mondelchocolates.com
Each signature pie crust cookie at Janie’s Life-Changing Baked Goods is a mouthful of gooey filling enveloped in a hug of flaky crust and buttery streusel. Valentines’ Day limited editions include a dark chocolate raspberry version and oversized Funfetti M&M cookies topped with buttercream frosting and sprinkles. To preorder for pickup in store on Feb. 13 and 14, go to: https://www.getjanies.com 212 West 80th Street (Amsterdam and Broadway)
Billy’s Bakery not only offers classic cupcakes, cookie sandwiches with cream filling, and crowd-pleasing carrot cake, they also carry cake and cookie decorating kits and host cookie-decorating sessions for kids and adults alike. 410 Columbus Avenue (79th-80th) https://billysbakerynyc.com
Browse the curated Valentine’s Day table at Shakespeare & Co. for an enticing selection of books to give your sweetie or your BFF, including cookbooks for couples, books offering relationship advice, and charming illustrated true-love stories. 2020 Broadway (69th-70th) https://shop.shakeandco.com/about-us
In addition to a wide range of Valentine-worthy titles, Book Culture’s shelves are also brimming with giftables like scented candles, bath salts, mugs and tea towels, journals, Valentine’s cards, and more. 2915 Broadway (114th) https://www.bookculture.com
Laina Jane has been enticing passers-by with whisps of lacy and satiny lingerie since 1988. This tiny jewel of a shop also showcases a selection of elegant silk robes and nightgowns and luxurious cotton pajama sets in gorgeous florals, stripes, and solids. 416 Amsterdam Avenue (80th) https://www.lainajane.com
Only Hearts has been in the neighborhood for decades. It’s known for lovingly embellished lingerie, and, for those seeking something a bit cozier, it carries sweats with a sweet heart pattern. It also stocks fun books to give a gal pal, and—to keep your loved one toasty on cold winter nights—a cashmere-covered hot water bottle! 386 Columbus Avenue (78th-79th) https://onlyhearts.com
Whether you’re looking for traditional red roses or more adventurous options, Posie’s offers a wide range of beautiful blooms, from vibrant, accessibly priced, freshly made bouquets to custom arrangements to flowering plants. 376 Amsterdam Avenue (77th-78th) https://posies.com
The eclectic mix of local and ethically sourced gifts at Magpie ranges from jewelry to colorful hand-sewn hearts from Guatemala with a tiny flap in the back to slip a note into, perfect for a young niece or daughter. Great gifts for guys include unique socks, cocktail accoutrements, and puzzles. 488 Amsterdam Avenue (83rd-84th) https://magpienewyork.com
More & More Antiques is known for its remarkable ornament display at Christmastime, but the shop is now Valentine’s Central, with a wealth of whimsical and beautiful objets including tiny heart snow globes, heart-festooned taper candles, and vintage jewelry, including men’s cufflinks. 378 Amsterdam Avenue (78th) https://moreandmoreantiques.com
This is just a sampling of the Valentine’s Day treasures to be found on the Upper West Side. We hope you’ll share your favorites!
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