It’s Valentine’s Day, and your thoughtful sweetie has handed you a beautifully wrapped gift.

Maybe it will be different this year, you think, feeling a tad guilty for being disappointed by (yet another) box of chocolates. After all, plenty of people get nothing for Valentine’s, right? Zip. Nada.

But if you really wish your significant other would think outside the chocolate box, here are a few hints you might want to drop over the next week, before Feb. 14 rolls around once again.

These are alternatives to more traditional Valentine’s gifts, and they are all available locally.


Green Bee Soda’s Love Potion – “an elixir known to induce love” – comes in a 22-ounce bottle that looks as if you’ve just pulled it from a dusty apothecary shelf. The woman on the label with flowers in her hair would be more at home on a early 20th-century medicine bottle than a 21st-century soda. An actual red wax seal covers the bottle cap, adding mystique and maybe a touch of naughtiness.

Here’s what makes Love Potion unique: It tastes just like chocolate-covered strawberries. It’s made from fresh-pressed strawberries (strawberry juice), wildflower honey, organic roasted cocoa nibs and vanilla beans. The dark chocolate notes are the strongest, but enough strawberry comes through that it strongly resembles a carbonated version of the popular Valentine’s treat.

At 180 calories per bottle, Love Potion is about the equivalent of eating three large strawberries dipped in dark chocolate.

It’s not something you’d likely drink every day, but it makes a fun once-a-year treat. Love Potion sells for $7.99 per bottle. Find it at the Portland Food Co-op and Whole Foods Market in Portland, Bow Street Market and Royal River Natural Foods in Freeport, Morning Glory in Brunswick and Lois’ Natural in Scarborough.


These delicious cookies come gift-wrapped in a pretty striped box.

Rebecca Pirone (one of the three sisters) makes them in her home and sells them at farmers markets, local shops and online.

Our favorites, and some of her best sellers, are the cran-raisin orange, the lemon ricotta and the Italian butterball cookies. Pirone also makes biscotti and whoopie pies (for Mainers of Italian descent?) in flavors including pumpkin, blueberry and chocolate.

If you are environmentally conscious, this may not be the Valentine’s gift for you, since each cookie comes individually wrapped in plastic. But, we have to admit, the wrapping kept the cookies extremely fresh.

On Saturdays, Pirone is at the Saco River Farmers Market from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. You can also find the cookies at the Bow Street Market in Freeport, Carter’s Green Market and Plowshares Community Farm in Gorham and Pine Tree Seafood & Produce in Scarborough and Saco. Visit Pirone’s Etsy shop through her Facebook page at

The cookies cost $14.99 for a baker’s dozen.


When the owner of Dobra Tea in the Old Port opened the long wooden drawer filled with “Casanova tea,” the scent of roses was overwhelming; it was like walking into a flower shop.

The loose black tea, named after the famous 18th-century Lothario, is laced prettily with bits of red rose petals. The shop says this specialty tea contains “the romance of a dozen roses in beverage form.”

Just cover a tablespoon of the tea with 6 ounces of boiling water and let it steep for three minutes. (Use a tea ball or strain after steeping.) The aroma and taste of roses is unexpectedly strong. It’s almost like drinking perfume, so this is definitely a novelty for special occasions.

The tea costs $4.50 per ounce. For a dollar more, bring your sweetie into Dobra and they will serve you from a pink, double-spouted tea pot that pours two cups simultaneously.

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