Max's Coal Oven pizza class

Once again, that magical Hallmark Day is upon us. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and folks everywhere are scramble for dinner reservations, the biggest bouquet of roses ( there are other flowers out there, guys!) and to get the biggest box of chocolates on the market. I haven’t traditionally made a big deal about this holiday in the past on the blog, but after creating a few guides on for the holiday, I thought I’d share some love here on the blog. Check out the aforementioned guides here and here. You’ll find much more on the newly-updated iPhone app as well.

While gathering photos (mostly from iPhone with the exception of BMB & Cacao) for this post, it really didn’t occur to me that almost all of my choices are educational in nature. It’s more of an accident than anything, but eating and learning is fun, right? I certainly think so. Well, without further ado, here are a few suggestions.

Max's Coal Oven pizza class

Max’s Coal Oven Pizza

A few weeks ago I attended a preview event for upcoming classes at Max’s Coal Oven Pizza downtown. I rarely eat downtown given the difficulty of parking, but Max’s and nearby Stats and Der Biergarten both have convenient validated parking at the deck across the street, so I really don’t have an excuse. Max’s lays claim to the only coal oven pizzeria in Georgia. I’m not as much of an expert on pizza as some people I know, but I certainly have my preferences. I typically go for a margherita style, adding a single topping for simplicity. At the class, you get a bit of a history lesson and an explanation of why Max’s has chosen to use coal in their restaurant, and a bit on the toppings used in the restaurant as compared with the delivery competition. They’ll also make sure that you’ve got your choice of booze, which can help you get the courage to toss your pie in the air. Max’s classes are $30 per person, which includes the meal and two drinks for the night. To purchase a gift certificate and make a reservation for the class (required), you can call Mary Jo Schmidt at 404.974.2944 Space is limited to eight guests per class on a first-come, first-serve basis and must be reserved in advance.

Max's margherita pie


Bear Maker Bakery


Brandon of Bear MAker Bakery
Brandon of Bear Maker Bakery

I introduced y’all to Brandon at Bear Maker Bakery about a year ago, and it’s been one of my most popular posts. Brandon and his partner John make cookies that not only taste delicious but also look like beautiful pieces of art. The photo here is obviously of their Christmas cookies, but I’m sure they’d be able to rustle up a Valentine’s Day cookie for that special someone, and if the red heart isn’t your thing, they have an incredible lineup of tasty pastries.

Christmas cookies Bear Maker Bakery

They even sell a chocolate brownie perfect for the vegan in your life. You can find their treats at coffee shops around town including Inman Perk Coffee and if you’d like to special order a special batch, check out their web page or visit them on their bakery Sunday events.

Beautiful Briny Sea


Beautiful Briny Sea salts
photo courtesy of Beautiful Briny Sea

We’re blessed to have a number of outfits here in Atlanta that produce amazing specialty food items. I mentioned Beautiful Briny Sea in my holiday post, and I found a fun opportunity on their facebook page that would be fun for a gift idea or something for you and your sweetie to do together. It just happens to be happening tomorrow, February 7th! BBS sells gourmet sea salts in area farmer’s markets and boutiques such as the Beehive Co-Op. They’re holding a salt making workshop and tour and participants can make their own salt creations using locally grown herbs, spices and mushrooms. The class is only $10/person and a portion of proceeds benefit the Grant Park and East Atlanta Village Farmers Markets. E-mail BBS for details and check out their Facebook page.

Cacao Atlanta


Cacao Atlanta Virginia Highland

I’ve been a fan of Kristen Hard’s mini empire of chocolate boutiques for a while and I specifically love their hot chocolate. A little birdie (OK, a press release) informed me that they’re in the midst of launching a new chocolate bar line in time for Valentine’s Day. They’re also (you guessed it!) holding Valentine’s Day chocolate making classes on February 9, 10 and 14th. The classes include a brief educational talk, three ounces of chocolate, hot cocoa, and cookies and pastries.Cost for the classes are $35 per person on February 9 and February 10; $55 per person with Kristen on Valentine’s Day.

Batdorf & Bronson


Jason Dominy of Batdorf & Bronson
Jason Dominy of Batdorf & Bronson

If you’re busy or out of town during the week itself, consider an educational lesson about coffee and help out someone in need. You may have heard of Team Hidi fundraisers around town to support Ryan Hidinger, a beloved chef at Muss & Turner’s who is currently battling Stage IV cancer. Jason Dominy and Atlanta’s Batdorf & Bronson would like to help and are holding coffee education seminars that will double as a fundraiser for Team Hidi. Tickets are just $30 and you’ll learn a great deal about coffee and the roasting process. The seminar & roastery tickets can be purchased through Atlanta Culinary Tours.

Cook Hall


Cook Hall

Last but not least, is Cook Hall in Buckhead. I attended their media preview a few months ago and I have a batch of iPhone photos that unfortunately never made it to the blog. The bar/restaurant took over the Market space in the bottom of the W Hotel in Buckhead, and although I initially rolled my eyes at the idea of a self-described gastropub opening not so far from my fave Holeman & Finch, I really enjoyed my visit and what they aim to accomplish there.

Hibiscus Flip

In addition to a fun cocktail list, Cook Hall’s menu including locally sourced meats & cheeses from The Spotted Trotter & Sweet Grass Dairy among others, and craft beer, they offer DIY Cocktail kits where you’re able to choose a spirit, and have fun with a variety of sodas, bitters, tinctures and the like. They’ve concocted a special couples cocktail kit for Valentine’s Day and can guide you along the way. If not, if they still have the Hibiscus Flip (pictured) on the menu, I’d suggest you have at least one of those. I feared that it might be too sweet, but it’s actually quite balanced and  addictive.

These are just a couple choices out of the many possibilities our city has to offer, and I’m all ears if you have any other suggestions! There are a couple of events coming up that I think would be perfect Valentine’s Day gifts as well, so stay tuned to this blog over the next week. Whether you’re single or coupled, I hope that you have a great February 14th!