Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us: an annual reminder that, even at times when the romance quotient in your life isn’t such stuff as dreams are made on, there’s always chocolate as a fallback. As everybody has doubtless heard by now, chocolate and cacao beans contain small amounts of the organic compound called phenylethylamine or PEA, which also happens to be one of those happy neurotransmitters secreted by the human body when we’re in love.
If you’re lucky, someone you know loves you enough to give you chocolate in February. But there’s nothing wrong with being proactive: going out and getting some of your own. You needn’t even wait to find out if a heart-shaped box is coming your way on the 14th, because the Diamond Mills Hotel & Tavern in Saugerties will be hosting its third annual Chocolate Lovers’ Brunch this Sunday, February 9. Making things even sweeter is the fact that the event is a benefit for the tireless efforts of Family of Woodstock, Inc. to aid Ulster County families in crisis – specifically, its Adolescent Service Programs, which provide temporary housing, mental health support, substance abuse counseling and assistance in life skill development for local youth.
Diamond Mills’ executive chef Giuseppe Napoli, a Culinary Institute of America grad, will be preparing the decadent chocolate-inspired brunch. As of presstime the menu hadn’t been unveiled, but among the offerings last year were cannoli pancakes, smoked salmon frittata and chocolate-dipped applewood bacon, accompanied by the requisite mimosa or Bloody Mary. To complement the venue’s view of Esopus Falls, a sophisticated ambiance will be supplied by none other than the great avant-garde jazz/funk keyboardist John Medeski.
The event runs from 12 noon to 3 p.m., culminating with a live auction hosted by James Cox of the James Cox Gallery. Even if you’re not planning to attend, you can jump into the auction action right now by visiting www.myminiauction.com/familyofwoodstock to place your bids online. There you can also read full descriptions of the enticing goodies that are being auctioned off, which range from store gift certificates and baskets to a week in a bayfront house on Cape Cod that sleeps up to 11 people. Other selections include a private winery tour and tasting at Whitecliff Vineyard, a Kaatsbaan show-and-dinner package, basketball and Broadway tickets, pizza and cake-decorating parties for kids, photo prints by Elliott Landy and Dion Ogust, Tonner dolls, a lobster-and-clambake package from Gadaleto’s and lots more.
Tickets for the Chocolate Lovers’ Brunch cost $60 per person and are available at www.nycharities.org/events/eventlevels.aspx?etid=6879. Call (845) 331-7080, extension 155, for more information.
Chocolate Lovers’ Brunch & auction to benefit Family, Sunday, February 9, 12 noon-3 p.m., $60, Diamond Mills Hotel & Tavern, 25 South Partition Street, Saugerties; (845) 331-7080, extension 155, www.nycharities.org/events/eventlevels.aspx?etid=6879, www.myminiauction.com/familyofwoodstock. Read more about local cuisine and learn about new restaurants on Ulster Publishing’s www.DineHudsonValley.com or www.HudsonValleyAlmanacWeekly.com.