Foodie Sunday: A Lovely Feast of Chocolate, Champagne, Roses & a very romantic giveaway!
I love Valentines Day, simply because I completely believe in that underneath all of the random silliness that the gift of one full day devoted to love with all of it’s grand gestures is a completely wonderful thing. When I was a young romantic girl I delighted in hand making the frilly cards and shoeboxes that I’d take to school, hoping to have it filled with a Valentine from that special secret crush and fistfuls of those adorable little candy hearts with cryptic love messages written on them. Those little bits of sugar, color and spice were like handwritten messages from cupid himself, because the ones that were tucked into the valentine were so very significant!
I’ve always believed in love at first sight which I experienced first hand 30 years ago the night that I met my husband. I was at an all day MS dance marathon at the fabulous Cleveland Agora with his roommate who was one of my best friends. Jim was one of the roadies for all of the bands coming on and off of the stage. Brian evidently pawned me off at about 10 minutes to midnight, begging Jim to take care of me for a bit so that he could woo some sweet young thing that he’d spied before it was too late. Standing to the side of the dance floor I noticed this totally adorable guy who at the time looked more than a little like Todd Rundgren. He was beguilingly shy to the core as he approached me and offered to buy me a beer. Not knowing what else to say he introduced himself and uttered the 4 words that made me fall in love with him…. “I play the piano” which he proved to me shortly after that he did with stunning ability. It was all over after that…..we married a year and a half later.
Jim’s a February baby and they say that those born in the month of February truly understand love, they seem to have a special gift for it. He’s been known to do the most romantic things knowing full well that I’m not immune to milk, rosewater and honey candlelight baths and gorgeous gifts of Chuao chocolate!
Thankfully this same incredible guy really understands my complete addiction to perfume! I remember one Valentines Day in particular when I walked in to find a bottle of my very favorite Diorissimo Parfum nestled playfully among our pillows. Then he walked in smiling shyly, holding 2 Baccarat flutes and a bottle of Veuve Cliquot. This year I’ll be wearing Laurie Sterns luscious new perfume “Bed of Roses” which is just an amazingly sensual potion of a perfume, created from 9 gorgeous rose varieties blended into one perfect accord and laying on sensual bed of cognac, tuberose, orange blossom and mandarin. Like all of the wonderful creations by the mistress of Velvet and Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery , this erotic new scent is practically edible and has more than a bit of my favorite energetic quality, something that I laughingly like to refer to as “ Heaving Cleavage”. You need to try it, because it’s gorgeous and way too provocative for its own good! I love to layer this with a bit bit of Roxana Villas solid chocolate perfumes ; especially the one that she created called Cerise, a gorgeous cherry truffle scent that smells like a perfectly addictive box of chocolate covered wine scented cherries. I know that Roxana is working on a chocolate body butter....I’ve had a sneak peak (or rather sniff) and I promise that it’s going to be fabulous. I can’t imagine anything lovelier than slathering on a sensual chocolate body butter after a nice warm bath. I can’t wait for this one!
Tomorrow why don’t you try something just a little bit different in your Valentines Day champagne? If you make a syrup of red wine and roses, it will lend the loveliest flavor and color to a glass of champagne. Making the syrup is simple. Just take a 2 cups of redwine , two thirds of a cup of sugar and put them into a pan to which you’ve added a big pinch of ground pink peppercorns, some fresh lemon zest, a cinnamon stick and a handful of unsprayed rosebuds. Boil it all down, decant the syrup and add a tablespoon or two into any glass of champagne or wine with a few raspberries for fun. It’s a lusty little love spell besides being so completely delicious and all of those ingredients have been known to create some very exotic sparks!
With all of that champagne you’ll need a bit of fruit, so how about some chocolate covered strawberries? Making them is easy, I’vedipped dozens of them with ease. Some of my best memories are of making these with my son and my nieces, this is a really fun thing to do with any of the wonderful children in your life. Just make sure that you don’t get even a smidge of water anywhere near the melted chocolate as it will turn the whole thing into a grainy mess and you’ll have to start all over. The recipe is so simple: You’ll need 6 ounces semisweet chocolate chopped- I find that Ghiradelli works the best for this recipe, 3 ounces white chocolate, chopped (More Ghirardelli!) 1 pound strawberries with long stems (about 20), washed and dried very well.
Put the semisweet and white chocolates into 2 separate heatproof medium bowls. Fill 2 medium saucepans with a couple inches of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat; set the bowls of chocolate over the water to melt and stir until smooth.
Once the chocolates are melted and smooth, remove from the heat. Line a sheet pan with parchment or waxed paper and holding the strawberry by the stem, dip the fruit into the dark chocolate, lift and twist slightly, letting any excess chocolate fall back into the bowl. Set strawberries on the parchment paper. Repeat with the rest of the strawberries. Dip a fork in the white chocolate and drizzle the white chocolate over the dipped strawberries. Set the strawberries aside until the chocolate sets, about 30 minutes. Be sure that you’ve made enough. They seem to vanish in my house as quickly as I can make them! If you’ve got little kids around be sure to double the recipe!
All of these sweets are wonderful, but to maintain a lusty bit of stamina you’ve got eat! If I could always have my favorite meal every year on Valentines Day, it would definitely be a meal of fondue. When I was a child prowling around New York in the 60’s, my favorite place to eat was a completely fabulous restaurant called La Fondue on 55th. I’d beg my parents to take me there. La Fondue was a wonderful old place, dark and cave like with wooden benches , candles in wine bottles and the best bread ever and fondue which was perfect in every respect.
I still think that a dinner of fondue is a very romantic way to spend some time with someone that you love or perhaps want to get to know much better. When I make it at home I begin with a sinfully smooth and garlicky gruyere fondue served with sliced apples and potato, then move to a platter of marinated filet and finish with a sinfully rich dark chocolate and fleur de sel fondue. I’d have a curry sauce and definitely horseradish for the meat and probably a lyonnaise potato or two for my husband and some freshly steamed asparagus with a bit of béarnaise for dipping .
Because it’s Valentines Day a decadent dessert is definitely in order and my Fleur de Sel Chocolate Fondue is so easy to make!
Just take 12 ounces of chopped semi sweet chocolate (Use the good stuff!) and slowly whisk it until melted into about 8 ounces of heavy cream which you’ve had heating to a very gentle bubble on the stove. Add a pinch of salt and stir once more and pour the whole thing into a heated fondue pot. Then take a tablespoon or two of organic caramel sauce that you’ve already warmed up and swirl it into the fondue.
I’d assemble a pretty platter of delicious things to dip into it; organic marshmallows, bananas, strawberries, some very juicy fresh mango, candied ginger (to heat things up a bit!) and peeled fresh orange slices!
After dinner it’s time for a bath for two, more champagne and because every Valentines Day needs to finish with some simple lusty fun, here is my very own recipe for chocolate body paint ! This is sinful, delicious and has the benefit of being wonderful for your skin because of the heavy concentration of coconut oil . I created this one night in California when I was cooking dinner for several friends and my sons vegan girlfriend. I need a dessert that she could eat so this recipe was born. We ate it that night drizzled over fruit rolls in rice paper that Cassie had made that were amazingly delectable morsels of thai basil, plum, almond butter and mango and also some that were fresh peach, more basil, almond butter and raspberry.
Aside from being absolutely delicious, they were jewels…simply gorgeous!
By the next morning the chocolate ganache had solidified but not to the point that it was hard. Because I believe that anytime is the right time to eat chocolate I dipped my finger into the bowl and discovered that it was the perfect consistency for fingerpainting.
To make about 2 cups of delectable "Body Paint" you will need:
I bag of sweetened organic carob chips
3 tablespoons of good cocoa powder- I love the Green and Black brand
A liberal dash of cinnamon
1 cup of coconut oil - The Whole Foods 365 brand is very good
Agave nectar to taste
Sweetened Coconut milk to thin as needed -about 1/2 cup
This is so simple! Just put all of the ingredients into your blender or VitaMix and move it through the settings until you are rewarded with a melting and creamy sauce! If I were doing this in the blender I would probably warm the ingredients first over a double boiler and then put them into the pitcher. You really do need the emulsifying effect of the blender though because as the mixture whips it will thicken a bit like mayonnaise. Add the agave to taste and coconut milk to create a smoother consistency and then pour into a sauce boat to serve! Because of the coconut oil and carob chips the sauce with begin to solidify but it will still be silky and wonderful. At room temperature it's definitely a sauce but once you put it into the refrigerator it will solidify a bit and turn into a creamy ganache. When you’re ready , take it out of the refrigerator, let it warm up a bit and have fun!
On that note......
Happy Valentines Day to all of you! May all of your lovers be wonderful, your chocolates delicious and your perfumes exquisite!
Now for any of you who’d love to spend some time in nestled with your sweetie wrapped completely in Laurie Sterns delightful Bed of Roses and some delectable chocolate from Roxana Villa I have one wonderful gift to give way! Just let me know in your comments and I’ll put you into the drawing!
You can enjoy Laurie Sterns “Bed of Roses” for yourself at purrfumery.com
Roxana Villa’s yummy chocolate BonBons can be found at illuminatedperfume.com
Picture of rose chocolate frosting courtesy of Beth Schreibman Gehring
Picture of Fondue from an unknown source.