Noe Valley Voice February 2000

Valentine's Day in Noe Valley: Chocolate and Flowers Still Make the Best Valentines

By Alex Nicole Leviton

For millions of Americans, the symbols of Valentine's Day are chocolate and flowers. But what do people in Noe Valley really want? Chocolate and flowers, of course.

Jack Epstein, of Chocolate Covered -- currently the neighborhood's only chocolate shop, at 3977 24th St. -- says, "People give chocolate on Valentine's Day because it's one of those things they'd like to receive more of themselves." This year Epstein is offering a personalized way to give chocolates on Valentine's Day.

Customers can bring in a favorite picture to Chocolate Covered -- from a family photograph to a drawing or postcard -- and Epstein will transfer it onto a heart-shaped (or square or octagonal) tin box. The result is a "cyanotype," a blue-tinted, black-and-white image, which has almost an antique feel to it.

Noe Valleyans have already ordered tins with baby pictures of their parents, and even an old potty-training shot for a sister's 50th birthday. "No one has ever received one of these and not been excited," Epstein says.

The tins can be filled with whatever the heart desires. But for Valentine's, Epstein suggests a selection of truffles or chocolates shaped like hearts, lips, or flowers. Empty tins range from $15 to $25 and can be customized in one to three days. The $10 price tag for making the image is a one-time fee, and can be used for an infinite number of tins.

For those looking for a low-calorie Valentine's Day, Glen Potter of Accent on Flowers at 4080 24th St. has one suggestion: "Buy early in the day." With plenty of florists on both Church and 24th streets, as long as you don't wait until 8 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 14, you should have no trouble buying a dozen red roses. But it's a smart idea to order your flowers the week before.

However, roses might not be the best bet for the budget or environmentally conscious, Potter warns. February is the worst month for growing roses, and the consumer picks up the cost.

Instead of the predictable, Potter says, why not try lilies, narcissus, or tulips? They're plentiful this time of year and add light and color to an otherwise gray month.

Miguel Torres, of Mia's Flowers and Gifts at 1504 Church St., likes daring too. He says that although roses are the most popular flower on Valentine's Day, "San Franciscans have an eclectic taste." His customers often choose exotic blooms such as gerbera daisies in brilliant shades of pink, orange, or red, mixed with anemones, tulips, and even stately quince branches.

Torres also stresses that Feb. 14 is not just for lovers, but for friends, kids, parents, you name it. Red roses might be traditionally linked to romance, but a beautiful array of spring flowers will make anyone feel loved.

Chocolate Covered can be reached at 641-8123. Accent on Flowers is at 824-3233; Mia's Flowers at 824-4470. Other flower experts in Noe Valley are Indigo V on Castro (647-2116) and the French Tulip on 24th near Sanchez (647-8661).

If you've left your heart outside of San Francisco, all these stores can accommodate long-distance Valentines as well.