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Truth be told, Queens has never been known as a real happening place for Valentine's Day. But if you look just a little harder and you're a bit inventive, you can have as hot a time as any Manhattanite.

First, buy your Valentine's Day card early. If you tarry you'll be left with cards that are either insulting or insufferably squishy.

For those who send flowers the trick, of course, is timing. Buy too early and they'll be wilted by Valentine's Day. Buy (or order) too late and you won't find any. Good places to order are from FTD.com where you can get a dozen roses for $68 or 1-800-FLOWERS.com, where you can get two dozen for $70.

You can also check out A Little Shop of Flowers at 135-01 Crossbay Blvd. in Jamaica, which has some very nice stuff. Also highly rated is Artistic Florist Inc. at 82-19 153rd Ave., also in Jamaica, Dragon's Den Florist, 165 Beach 116th St. in Far Rockaway, George Wood Florists at 158-15 Northern Blvd. in Flushing, and Young's Florist at 228-15 Merrick Blvd. in Jamaica.

But between you and me, I'd buy a plant, like an African violet or a low-maintenance orchid like a moth orchid. They're also pretty, and they last longer than roses. Of course, for something nearly as indestructible as your love, buy a rubber tree plant.

If you're inclined to buy jewelry, there's a nice array of jewelry stores all over Queens, particularly along Bell Boulevard and in Flushing.

For something lacy and revealing, check out Victoria's Secret at 90-15 Queens Blvd. and in the Bay Terrace Shopping Center in Bayside.

Scrumptious candy abounds at Schmidt's Confectionery at 94-15 Jamaica Ave. - I'd also check out their website at www.jschmidtconfections.com. They can do some pretty creative things with chocolate. Imagine a chocolate tree, or chocolate vases of chocolate flowers, somewhat naughty chocolate valentines or the ultimate - a scarily realistic white chocolate alligator.

Speaking of chocolate, you might want to take in "Chocolat," the fizzy, somewhat French romantic comedy playing around town starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. This week you can catch it at the Regal Kaufman Astoria Cinema at 35th Avenue and 38th Street, the Loews Bay Terrace Sixplex at Bay Terrace Shopping Center, the UA Midway Stadium 9 at Queens Boulevard and 71st Road and the Cineplex Odeon Meadows Cinema. Call (718) 777-FILM for scheds.

If you're inclined to stay home you might want to buy "Enchanted Love" by Marianne Williamson, about "the mystical power of intimate relationships." Yes, she's New-Agey but so what? She writes like an angel and she does have enlightening things to say about love.

If you're really old fashioned, pick up a copy of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "Sonnets From the Portuguese," or a book of love poems by Rumi the Sufi mystic and take turns reading them to each other.

Now here's something (or something else) romantic that'll keep you up all night, but it's worth it:

Iced Chocolate Mousse With Coffee Sauce

1 cup of heavy cream

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped up

6 tbsps. of sweet butter, cut into bits

1 tsp. vanilla extract

4 large eggs, separated

1/4 cup sugar

For the Sauce

1 1/4 cups strong coffee

1/3 heavy cream

1 cup of light brown sugar

3 egg yolks

Scald the cream in a saucepan over moderate heat. Add the chocolate over moderately low heat, a bit at a time, and stir until it's melted. Take off the burner and stir in the butter a little bit at a time, then the vanilla.

Whisk in the egg yolks one at a time till everything is combined and smooth.

Beat the egg whites in an electric mixer till they're peaked, but not too stiff. Add the sugar a little at a time till the egg whites are stiff. Stir 1/4 of the whites into the chocolate mix and gently but thoroughly fold in the rest of the egg whites, one third at a time.

Pour all this into a serving dish, cover and stick in the fridge for 12 hours.

Now make the sauce. Put the coffee and cream in a saucepan over moderate heat and bring to a boil. Whisk together the brown sugar and egg yolks until light. Add a little of the hot coffee mix in a stream, whisking, then whisk the yolk mix back into the coffee. Return to the heat and cook over a moderately low flame, stirring till the sauce sticks to the back of a spoon.

Don't let the sauce boil! Put in a serving dish, cool to room temperature then chill, covered, until ready to serve. Serve the sauce with the mousse.

Makes 6 servings.

See? There's a lot you can do on Valentine's Day - right here in Queens.

Reach Qguide writer Arlene McKanic by e-mail at timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 139.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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