Monday, January 15, 2018
Features and More

Recipes for Valentine's Day for a romantic dinner for two

Lady and the Tramp had the right idea.

A mound of pasta, a glowing candle in an old-fashioned chianti bottle and big, soupy eyes just for each other.

Oh, and no utensils.

That single strand of spaghetti brought them together

in the most delightfully sweet way.

Sharing food is romantic,

especially when you're eating with your hands,

not to mention your muzzle.

That's intimate and primal.

Just like love.

Valentine's Day is Tuesday, which gives you plenty of time to plan the perfect meal a deux. If your heart is set on going out, make reservations ASAP or you may find yourself at the drive-through. Or stay in and orchestrate a cozy meal at your pace and to your own liking. Turn up the swanky music and turn down the lights.

There are foods that have long been considered aphrodisiacs, kindling love with special, mysterious properties. Among them are oysters, figs, chocolate, wine and strawberries. I don't know about oysters and figs, but what's not to fall in love about (and over) chocolate, wine and strawberries?

So there is more to chocolate-dipped strawberries and a glass of bubbly (which, you know, is a form of wine) than commercialism. Those treats speak the language of love, figuratively and chemically, it seems.

When you put together the menu for your sweetie, consider what you both like to eat. That said, this is not the time for a heavy feast. There's nothing that squelches amorous intentions more than a bellyful of chili or something equally weighty. Yes, wings are finger food, but you had your fill of those on Super Bowl Sunday.

Keep the Valentine's Day fare light and communal. Imagine the sparks flying as your hands bump on the way to the fondue pot. You'll need to sit closer together, too. Feed him a truffle; serve her a spoonful of Brownie Tiramisu.

It's getting hot in here.

Shellfish, especially inexpensive mussels and finger-friendly shrimp, are excellent choices for a grownup, romantic meal. My Mussels in Chunky Tomato Broth is a slurpy bowl of deliciousness that can serve as a starter or the main event. Get some good bread to sop up the garlic-tinged broth. Don't worry about garlic breath, because that stinking rose has amorous qualities, too.

Rosemary Shrimp Scampi Broth uses woody rosemary stems as the skewers. Put the earthy herb on the list of aphrodisiacs, too. In ancient cultures, it was considered a token of fidelity and remembrance, both important qualities in affairs of the heart.

Fondue is a classic dish for lovers, and the accompanying recipe from the Food Network is fairly simple to put together and will provide a workout for that fondue pot gathering dust on the top shelf. Use cooked fingerling potatoes, plus French bread cubes and vegetables, to dip into the cheesy goodness.

For dessert, you could buy a variety of mini-desserts that are easily eaten by hand. Many grocery store bakeries have mini-eclairs and other creamy offerings. Or you could buy the best box of dark chocolates that you can afford and serve them with red wine or a coffee drink.

Or do something French. Serve a selection of cheeses at room temperature with a glass of port (but only if you're not doing fondue). In December, the Taste section recommended Graham's Six Grapes Reserve Porto (about $20 at big box stores and some wine shops). Uncork this lovely and set out a wedge of Stilton or a bold, blue-veined cheese such as Roquefort. If you can find it, try Oregon's Rogue Creamery smoky blue.

Now that should kindle some flames.

Janet K. Keeler can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8586.

Comments

Review: Show Palace’s Pippin daring and dangerous

HUDSON —If you saw the musical Pippin when it first hit Broadway in 1972, or a high school drama club version, or even a touring company rendition a decade ago, it’s not exactly the Pippin you’ll see if you’re wise enough to go see the spectacular mo...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Baseball coach Billy Reed lived a life of courage, integrity

Baseball coach Billy Reed lived a life of courage, integrity

TAMPAAs a teenager in the late 1940s, when Jim Crow remained the South’s two most notorious syllables, Billy Reed had to walk past Hillsborough High’s baseball field to get to all-black Middleton."Those (Hillsborough) students would hurl racial slurs...
Published: 01/13/18
Restaurant review: Ichicoro Ane brings ramen, Japanese small plates and a whole lot of fun to St. Petersburg

Restaurant review: Ichicoro Ane brings ramen, Japanese small plates and a whole lot of fun to St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURGWhen Station House restaurant opened on Christmas Eve 2014 it was a totally reinvented space, Steve Gianfilippo’s vision for the basement level of a 104-year-old, five-story, 30,000-square-foot building he’d bought for $3 million. For y...
Published: 01/12/18
Updated: 01/13/18
With Zev Buffman at the creative end, Ruth Eckerd Hall brings Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer to the stage

With Zev Buffman at the creative end, Ruth Eckerd Hall brings Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer to the stage

An actor famous for playing a radio station manager will star this week in the world premiere of a radio play.Mike Hammer: Encore for Murder brings Gary Sandy, who played Andy Travis on WKRP in Cincinnati, to Ruth Eckerd Hall. And the star power was ...
Published: 01/12/18
Updated: 01/13/18
Top Chef’s Fabio Viviani will open a restaurant in downtown Tampa

Top Chef’s Fabio Viviani will open a restaurant in downtown Tampa

The Tampa Bay restaurant scene has hit a certain kind of critical mass. For several years, rumors have swirled that the nation’s celebrity chefs were considering this part of the Florida peninsula as "the next big thing," a place to colonize and set ...
Published: 01/12/18
Here’s how to sing along to the entire Hamilton soundtrack at a Tampa library

Here’s how to sing along to the entire Hamilton soundtrack at a Tampa library

If you’re already singing along to the entire Hamilton soundtrack alone, why not meet like-minded folks and do it together?A Hamilton singalong goes down tonight at the Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library in Tampa. Fans will gather to sing the entire — y...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18
Airbnb Experiences a cool option for solo travelers

Airbnb Experiences a cool option for solo travelers

BARCELONA - I slipped into the back kitchen of a Portuguese bakery, late and alone for my class on making paella. Pairs from Australia, Toronto and Manchester had beaten me to the wine and small talk. Outside of their circle, I fumbled for talking p...
Published: 01/11/18
Beacon 2018 brings professional dancers and choreographers to the Palladium

Beacon 2018 brings professional dancers and choreographers to the Palladium

ST. PETERSBURGThe dancers kept moving, spinning, pausing for arabesques or stretches. Over most of a December afternoon at the Mirror Lake Studios, they rarely stopped, whether rehearsing specific routines or not.Choreographer Lauren Ree Slone also m...
Published: 01/11/18
Local craft beer of the week:  Bean Porter, Pinellas Ale Works

Local craft beer of the week: Bean Porter, Pinellas Ale Works

When St. Petersburg’s Pinellas Ale Works held its grand opening in May 2016, it featured a baltic porter treated with vanilla and coffee that proved to be a crowd favorite. The response was so positive that the brewery made another batch of Bean Port...
Published: 01/11/18
Canadian cops hunt former Opera Tampa maestro Daniel Lipton in connection with sexual assault

Canadian cops hunt former Opera Tampa maestro Daniel Lipton in connection with sexual assault

Daniel Lipton, Opera Tampa’s most recent artistic director, is being sought by Canadian authorities in connection with a sexual assault.The alleged assault took place in the late 1980s, a woman the Times is not naming told the Hamilton Police Service...
Published: 01/10/18
Updated: 01/11/18