Doubtful? Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to put aphrodisiacs and seductive foods wisdom to the test. Whether you’re planning to whip up seductive foods for a loved one, or wonder which dish on the menu to choose, we’ve enlisted some of Canada’s top chefs to offer their guidance.
The not-so-sexy list
Although garlic is technically considered an aphrodisiac, our experts concur (for obvious reasons) that this isn’t the night for a pungent Caesar salad. While you’re at it, skip the raw onions, curries, and super spicy condiments. Stephen Beckta, of Beckta Wine & Dining in Ottawa further recommends avoiding “really rich foods that can make you feel lethargic.”
Chef de cuisine Dale MacKay of Vancouver’s Lumière agrees that lighter foods are the way to go and adds “I’d recommend staying away from heavy braised meats, garlic and spicy dishes. It’s a special night and we don’t want guys falling asleep on their dates.”
Alain Chabot, chef at Calgary’s Il Sogno, also puts the kibosh on veggies like cabbage and beans. “You want to enjoy the rest of your evening and these items can cause acidity or upset in digestion...” Enough said.
Now you know what not to eat for a romantic mood; but, more importantly, which foods should you choose instead?
Virtually everyone agrees with Chef MacKay’s observation that “oysters are a natural choice for Valentine’s Day being that they’re aphrodisiacs.” In fact, silky, sensuous seafood of most any kind was mentioned again and again by top chefs. As Veronica Laudes, owner of Toronto’s Torito, simply put it: “Seafood is sexy!”
Ingredients like raw tuna and shellfish are recommended at Beckta; at Montreal’s Mediterranean-inspired, Milos, where seafood is their specialty, the Spiliadis family suggests “a lobster salad for two, salmon tartar, or a whole fish on the grill.” And David Lee of Toronto’s uber-romantic Splendido assures that, “For her, one can never go wrong with freshly cooked lobster.”
Recipe suggestion: Halibut with Shrimp and Champagne Buerre Blanc
Tempt her with truffles
Truffles are another ingredient that get a lot of attention this time of year. Chef de cuisine MacKay says, “I always like including luxurious ingredients in the [Valentine’s] menu such as handmade tagliatelle with butter poached lobster and white Alba truffles.”
At Toqué! in Montreal, one of co-owner Christine Lamarche’s favorite sensuous dishes is Chef Normand Laprise’s poached egg, served in the shell, topped with fresh Périgord black truffle shavings.
Page 1 of 2 -- Learn the etiquette of sharing plates, plus discover dessert trends and sparkling wines on page 2
Share if you dare
Like many others surveyed, Mark McEwan advises against “anything that’s too labour intensive or messy to eat. It takes away from the time you’re spending with that special someone.”
The chef of Vancouver’s hot, Moroccan-inspired Sanafir does, however, recommend getting up close and personal: “We are a tapas restaurant so all our food is made for sharing which I think is very sensual way to eat anyway.”
Back in Toronto, at Torito, Veronica Laudes agrees that sharing intimate bites of Chef Hernandez’s succulent Spanish tapas is the way to go. Their favorites for a date night: avocado salad with fresh crabmeat and Torito-style Russian salad with lobster.
Fulfill your sweet desires
And for dessert? “Chocolate is always delicious and sensual!” advises Chef McEwan, and he’s in good company. Chocolate is the aphrodisiac of choice in restaurants from coast to coast.
For the non-chocoholic, creamy desserts are an alluring alternative. At Milos in Montreal, for example, they tout their ekmek (baklava): a shredded phyllo base topped with custard, whipped cream, and walnuts. Stephen Beckta also reminds us that when in a romantic mood, “sharing dessert is a must.”
Bubbly and more
When asked about the perfect romantic libation, Chef Chabot exclaimed “Champagne, of course!” before adding that a Sauternes or ice wine would also be a nice touch. Other chefs and sommeliers recommended Champagne, but also sparkling wines like Spanish Cava; silky Pinot Noirs; and heart-warming Ports. Whatever your choice, it’s crucial to not overdo it: just enough to set the mood; not so much that you misbehave or (worse yet) fall asleep!
A final word on enjoying the sexiest meal of the year comes from Stephen Beckta: “Take plenty of time and don’t overeat. Remember, there is so much more than just the meal that is romantic that night!”
From recipes to activities to family crafts and gifts - click here to find everything you need for Valentine's Day!
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