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Friday, Feb. 6, 2009

FOOD

Special Valentine's Day tips

Sweet tea for your sweetie

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One of Japan's most venerable tea suppliers is also one of its most innovative. Fukujuen has been in business since 1790, but it sure isn't showing its age. First it teamed up with Suntory to launch Iyemon tea in PET bottles. Then, last year, it established an eye-popping nine-story flagship store on Kyoto's main shopping thoroughfare. Now, for Valentine's Day, Fukujuen has blended its famous tea, some of which sells for as much as ¥16,800 per 100 grams, into limited edition chocolates. There's a macha chocolate set, which includes green-tea truffles in a white or green-tea chocolate shell, as well as very delicately tea-scented milk chocolate with crisps of brown rice — call it super-premium Crunky. But if you really want to dazzle your dearest next week, get the Ujicha choc box; inside is green-tea syrup in green-tea chocolate shells topped with gold flakes and delicate sencha cream chocolate in the image of a tea flower. The sets are available in department stores nationwide as well as the Kyoto flagship store.

Macha chocolate box: ¥1,365 (8 pieces); Ujicha chocolate assortment: ¥3,150 (8 pieces); Fukujuen's Kyoto store: Shijo Tominokoji, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto; (075) 221-2920; www.fukujuen-kyotohonten.com

Chocolates and room service

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The world's most seductive foodstuff just got sexier. The Peninsula Tokyo Executive Pastry Chef Shigeru Nojima is marking Valentine's Day with these tantalizing heart-shaped chocolate bonbons in scarlet and crimson. They come in a trio of flavors: lemon, pear caramel and green tea, and they are sold in packs of four (¥1,600), nine (¥3,400) or 16 (¥5,800) from the hotel's boutique. Since a gift this amorous needs a setting to match, the hotel has created a Be My Valentine package, available until Feb. 14, which includes a three-course dinner for two with free-flowing champagne at the dazzling 24th-floor Peter restaurant or a three-course room-service dinner with a bottle of Green Point rose. The hotel also promises to upgrade you to the next class of room, throw in a ¥10,000 gift certificate for food or drinks in the hotel and let you check out as late as 4 p.m., all of which should result in a very happy Valentine's Day.

Be My Valentine Package — Superior Room: ¥55,000; Deluxe Room: ¥60,000; (03) 6270-2888

Say it with glazed doughnuts

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It wasn't many decades ago that love and chocolate were unrelated in the public imagination in Japan. It took local brand Morozoff to kick-start the connection. So no snickering please as Krispy Kreme try to convince us that nothing says "I love you" like deep-fried dough. Their pitch for your Valentine's custom are two limited edition heart-shaped doughnuts: the Choco Moka Heart, filled with bitter coffee cream and sweet chocolate and topped with bitter chocolate crunch, and the Strawberry Double Heart [pictured above], topped with freeze-dried strawberries and a white chocolate heart. They cost ¥180 and are available until March 14, so your special someone can reciprocate with glazed treats for White Day. These might not be the most intuitive choices for a romantic gift, but only true love would survive a box of doughnuts for Valentine's Day.



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