Updated: Feb 23
Soon we will welcome Valentine’s Day. We love this holiday because it, singularly, celebrates romantic love. As food is love, convene your cherished friends for a party that plays to all that Valentine’s Day symbolizes. We have three stimulating party ideas for you that focus on romance coupled with fun. First, check out the post here for the first February dinner of The Dish on Dazzling Dinners. The menu tells a story of seduction with aphrodisiac foods matched to the course of romance. It is an utterly enchanting party that you and your guests will love and remember for years. At the heart of the other two party designs is matchmaking, ideal for Valentine’s Day, and guest participation, a guarantee of engagement and enjoyment. Ask guests to bring a wine to match the food that you serve. The dinner described in this week’s post involves matches between pairs of aphrodisiac foods and wine. The party for next week’s post has guests match wine to different cheeses. If a contest will appeal to you and your guests, ask them to rate the matches. Provide appropriate prizes. While the descriptions below are matched to Valentine’s Day, the basic idea of guests making matches of wine to food will work any time of year. A DINNER PARTY FOR VALENTINE’S DAY
The invitation below explains the idea. Dear A and B (guest names here),
Please come to a matchmaking dinner this Valentine’s Day, February 14. Two numbers, 2 (a pair) and 14, are linked to the day. It occurs on the 14th day of Month 2 of the year. The name, Valentine’s Day, has 14 characters, including the apostrophe. Let’s celebrate with 14 people, in 2’s (pairs), of course. For dinner, we will prepare 14 dishes, set out in pairs and filled with purported aphrodisiacs. To spice up the dinner conversation, guests are to guess why each food is an aphrodisiac. We will divide the dishes inter (oops – Freudian slip – we meant into) courses: Foreplay, Fulfillment and Finish. The conception behind each pair of dishes is a union of distinct but complementary partners so that each enhances the other. We would like you to do some matchmaking, too. For complete culinary satisfaction, we ask each couple to bring a wine to pair with one of the food pairs. Below is the menu. It shows each of the food pairs and which couple is to match a wine to that food pair. We are looking forward to the evening. Please come at 7.
VALENTINE’S DAY DINNER MENU
FOREPLAY Pont L’Eveque Cheese on Baguette and Avocado Mousse on Tortilla Chip Alice &Bill (names here) Oysters Baked with Herbs and Figs Wrapped in Prosciutto Christine & David (names here) Chocolate Crostini with Orange Salt and Baked Shrimp with Spices E&F (names here) Beet Soup and Garlic/Basil Bread G&H (names here) FULFILLMENT Rib Lamb Chops and Baked Asparagus I&J (names here) Basmati Rice with Dried Cherries and Wild Rice with Nuts K&L (names here) FINISH Almond Pastry and Honey Mousse M&N (names here)
Fourteen different dishes did make for a bit of work, but I was not overwhelmed. A helpful husband and advance prep of many dishes made the dinner doable. It was worth it. Guests made terrific wine matches while the dinner conversation, focusing on aphrodisiacs, ranged from ribald to riotous with an occasional romantic excursion: all unadulterated perfection for Valentine’s Day. You need not prepare 14 dishes but it would be a good idea to present dishes in pairs for a Valentine’s Day dinner. The idea of asking guests to match a wine to particular food preparations will work any time of year.
Notes on the Dishes FOREPLAY Chocolate Crostini with Orange Salt and Baked Shrimp with Spices
Crisp crostini, crunchy shrimp. Bittersweet crostini, sweet and spicy shrimp. The two generate a savory harmony of tastes and a sensuous mix of textures. Prepare crostini, buttering one side. Top with dark chocolate and broil until chocolate melts. Sprinkle with orange salt (grated, baked orange rind mixed with sea salt). Bake shrimp coated with a buttery, spicy mixture. Aphrodisiac properties Chocolate is a stimulant that enhances sensitivity and engenders good feelings. Oranges link to the romantic with the virginal white color and heady scent of the blossoms, the traditional flower for weddings. Pont L’Eveque Cheese on Baguette and Avocado Mousse on Tortilla Chip: A cow’s milk cheese, it’s soft and young, rich and creamy. It’s strong aroma and flavor partners nicely with a spicy avocado mousse. Aphrodisiac properties It’s the heady, sexy aroma of Pont L’Eveque cheese that qualifies it. “Avocado” comes from the Aztec for “testicle tree.” The testicle-shaped fruit typically hangs low in pairs from the tree’s branches. Oysters Baked with Herbs and Figs Wrapped in Prosciutto We recommend purchasing oysters that have been shucked. Then it is simple enough to bake them with butter and fresh herbs. Present them in their shells. The oysters have a briny-salty flavor that blends nicely with savory herbs. Prosciutto offers a different salty taste to blend with the sweet notes of the fig. Aphrodisiac properties Ogle the oyster and an opened fig. Do they not both resemble female genitalia? Hmmm…..according to sources on aphrodisiacs, the answer is yes. Whatever, they make a tasty pair. Beet Soup and Garlic/Basil Bread A bright red beet soup is a no brainer on a Valentine’s Day menu. It will be especially delicious made with roasted beets. Pair it with a crunchy, savory bread. Aphrodisiac properties The color and heart shape of beets make them about as romantic as a vegetable can get. Garlic contains a compound that increases blood circulation to the sexual organs and basil has a number of ingredients that can lift libido.
Rib Lamb Chops and Baked Asparagus Such a romantic pair! Young and tender with a heady aroma, a rib lamb chop suggests a maid. Thick rigid stalks of asparagus symbolize maleness. Marinate a rack of lamb in savory herbs; broil the asparagus with olive oil mixed with grated garlic and finish the dish with grated parmesan cheese. Aphrodisiac properties Everything about a rib lamb chop connotes enticing femaleness. First, thanks to Adam, ribs are female. A lamb is young and adorable. The shape of the chop - curvy. The perfect partner - asparagus, for its blatantly phallic shape. The erotic pair combine with Basmati Rice with Dried Cherries and Wild Rice with Nuts to fulfill the promise of consummation. Aphrodisiac properties Rice symbolizes fertility in Western and Asian cultures. E.g., the bride is showered with grains of rice as she exits the church; the couple announces their engagement by eating from the same rice bowl. Cherries are associated with virginity. Wild rice is, in fact, a grain and one thought to stimulate libido. Nuts symbolize male fertility.
The finish is sweet, typically for the male, perhaps for the female. This gender disparity is reflected in the aphrodisiac properties of both desserts. Aphrodisiac properties The pastry is filled with nuts while honey was chosen because it is associated with sexuality in many cultures. Indeed, it contains vitamins, minerals and hormones that aid the sexual libido of both sexes, but more so in men.