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It's time to put the love back in Valentine's Day! Show your friends and family how much you care.

FILE PHOTOS: VERN UYETAKE  - Palisades Market wine stewards Jim Clark, left, and Willy Snook, can help you select the perfect bottle of wine to build a thoughtful Valentine experience around. The

Some folks think Valentine's Day is overrated. They see it as a holiday that obligates one to shower a spouse or significant other with lavish gifts and costly dinners. Though some folks might think that is the only way to celebrate the holiday I was reminded recently that it truly could mean a little bit more.

For the February Lake Oswego Magazine inserted in the Feb. 1 issue I wrote about traditional Valentine gifts — wine and chocolates — but the sources turned the traditional into especially thoughtful gifts.

Palisades Market wine steward Jim Clark suggested rather than racing into the store on your way home from work to grab a bouquet and a bottle of anything on the shelf, you tune into the interests of your loved one and make a thoughtful selection. He suggested that the wine become the cornerstone of a themed event — a dinner based upon the couple's favorite wine.

Did you fall in love in Italy, or honeymoon in France? Do you have a favorite Willamette Valley winemaker? Have you been dreaming about traveling to a certain region? Selecting a wine that is personal to you and your loved one and building upon that theme would create a special and memorable event your sweetheart would treasure for a decade or more of Valentine's Days.

And while he says it isn't necessary to buy the most expensive wine in the shop, this is not a day for Two Buck Chuck. "Show them what they are really worth ... Show the person you are in love with that you are interested," Jim says. "Connect and give them a new experience."

Palisades Market is located at 1377 McVey Blvd. in Lake Oswego.

Chocolates by Bernard C. owner LaQuita Corbett-Martin fondly recalls Valentine's Day parties during her school days. In those days, she says, you wanted everyone to be your valentine and gave everyone a valentine.

"You may not eat lunch with them, but on that day you wanted everyone to know they were special in your eyes," she said.

Can we reclaim that inclusiveness today?

LaQuita believes we can, and that chocolate is the best vehicle to bring it around.

"Receiving a gift of chocolate is special anytime but especially on Valentine's Day," she said. "And it makes you feel special to give someone chocolates, too." Her shop has fun and inventive chocolates perfect for your valentines, and she points out that gifts start at $2, so treating all your valentines won't break the bank.

Chocolates by Bernard C. is located at 440 5th St., suite A in Lake Oswego.

My friends at Dobbes Family Estate are combining wine and chocolate for a special Valentine's event taking place Sunday, Feb. 11 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. You and your sweetie can indulge in bubbles, port and other favorites while shopping for handcrafted jewelry by Sophisticated Beads. The $25 fee includes artisanal cheese and chocolate pairings, too. Visit DobbesFamilyEstate.com or call 503-538-1141. Dobbes Family Estate is located at 240 S.E. 5th St. in Dundee.

I think Jim's suggestion of tuning into your loved one's dreams and interests is the key to creating a thoughtful and endearing gift. Does your sweetheart love to hike? Plan a hike on a favorite or new trail. Do they love art or birds? Plan a trip to a favorite museum or nature park. Would they love to see some of the Academy Award-nominated movies? Plan a movie date.

Let's join LaQuita's campaign to make everyone your valentine. Send valentines cards to let people know they make a difference in your life.

I live by the old adage "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach," so I tend to shower my loved ones with gifts from the kitchen like their favorite meals or foods using special ingredients. This Lobster Cobb Salad may be just the ticket to serve on Valentine's Day.

Bon Appetit! Make eating an adventure!

Lobster Cobb Salad

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Salad ingredients:

1 head iceberg lettuce, cut into wedges

6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced

8 slices bacon, cooked until crisp, crumbled

2 cups watercress

2 avocados, halved, peeled and cubed

2 tomatoes, cubed

Meat from 2 steamed lobsters

Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 cup crumbled blue cheese

Dressing:

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 garlic clove, minced

Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

2 hard-boiled egg yolks

1½ cup olive oil

About 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

For the lobster Cobb salad: Make a bed of lettuce on a platter, in a shallow serving bowl or on individual plates. Arrange over the lettuce in rows or in a checkerboard pattern the eggs, bacon, watercress, avocados, tomatoes and lobster meat, cover the lettuce almost completely. Season with salt and pepper.

For the dressing: In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, maple syrup, garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Using a fork, mash in the egg yolks to make a paste. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil to form a thick dressing. Stir in the chives.

To serve, pour some of the dressing over the salad. Sprinkle with the blue cheese. Serve the remaining dressing on the side.

Recipe courtesy of Epicuruious.com, by Chuck Hughes, "Chuck's Day Off"

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-636-1281 ext. 100 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. She is the author of "Willamette Valley Wineries," a pictorial history of the Willamette Valley wine industry. Learn more at barbarasmithrandall.me. Follow her on Twitter @barbrandallfood.

LaQuita Corbett-Martin, owner of Chocolates by Bernard C., hopes to inspire people to be more inclusive in giving valentines, and ask everyone to be their valentine.

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