A few days this week the temperature rose above 30 degrees. Hard to believe we were excited to experience this “heat wave,” but that’s exactly what it felt like during this crazy, cold winter. Even for those of us who love the four seasons, winter can be long. That’s why I’m so happy when Valentine’s Day comes up on the calendar and I have another holiday to focus my energy on. Seriously, it is really the perfect holiday: happy, sweet, sparkly, time to enjoy champagne, show your love generously to friends, family, spouse, children, parents, even pets, and to indulge in chocolate! Love your front door with a heart wreath, surprise your co-workers with candy, get out your heart-shaped jewelry and enjoy a romantic dinner. Or, participate another way by taking a culinary class and create your own epicurean homage to St. Valentine.

This week’s diversions are just a few of the choices in our area where you can either prepare for this mid-winter treat or attend one of these classes as your treat. Your call.

Culinary Institute of America (CIA)

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1946 Campus Drive, Hyde Park

Since 1946 the CIA has been the gold standard in culinary higher education. In addition to its professional degree programs, it offers certificate courses for enthusiasts and weekend boot camps and classes for all ages. A visit to any of the four restaurants on campus is a great way to experience the CIA and be served meals prepared by students and served by students. Extensive campus tours and well-stocked chef’s bookstore complete your visit.

Why I love it:

Because it has a course called Everything Chocolate. Because there are classes for adults and for parents and teens and for kids. Every participant gets a free CIA chef’s apron.  Because if you sign up now, you will be able to prepare a lavish romantic meal by Valentine’s Day.

Sur La Table

167 Market St., Yonkers

Sur La Table is a national retail cooking and kitchen outlet and if you are lucky enough to have one near you, your kitchen will thank you. Each shop is packed with every culinary gadget imaginable and regularly offers samples, demos and classes. Sur La Table is also a great resource for holiday décor, tableware, and themed accessories galore.

Why I love it:

Because it has a class called Chocoholic. Absolutely no explanation needed. This class will satisfy any craving for Valentine’s Day sweets and the results are sure to impress your friends and family during this holiday’s festivities.

Zwilling Cooking Studio

270 Marble Ave., Pleasantville

Since 1731, Zwilling has been known for producing knives of the highest quality and craftsmanship. The Zwilling Cooking Studio takes knives and their technique and usage to a new level. Located in a new, state-of-the-art facility, participatory courses are regularly offered in knife skills for the beginner and advanced levels, multi-course theme cooking classes, homemade pasta and, on Valentine’s Day, a special three-course romantic couples class.

Why I love it:

Because its tagline is “everyone is a top chef in our professional kitchen.” Everyone. Because the Valentine’s Day class is really a departure from the usual way to enjoy a romantic meal. And because I received a Zwilling knife block full of knives from my mom at my bridal shower and it is the only thing that has really not gone out of style and remained useful since then!