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So tell me the truth. Do the words "Valentine's Day" cause your stomach to turn, do visions of saccharin cards and stale chocolates come to mind, do you dread the relationship talks brought on by the sight of people around you buying shit in silly bows? I’ve had more than one relationship suddenly break off a day or two before Valentine’s and take up again a couple days after. Why is a Hallmark holiday so difficult? I say it’s just not worth stressing over and putting pressure on yourself or your lover. Instead try taking your mind off the holiday stigmas and explore the other side of it. Valentine’s is a great excuse to celebrate the sensual life. Whether you're single or attached, cut yourself some slack and indulge your sensual self. Here are some suggestions for taking this opportunity to have fun, and make a Valentine's dinner to remember.

Food is one of my favorite ways to start off an indulgent evening, and sometimes it even becomes the whole evening. I recently became fascinated with aphrodisiacs and decided to use them to create a loaded Love Feast. I figured I could sneak a little somethin' somethin' into the food, like powdered yohimbe - a crystal alkaloid derived from the yohimbe tree found in Central Africa, or cantharides - broken dried remains of the blister beetle, both recognized as sexual stimulants by modern medicine (I'm leaving Viagara out of this). But apparently, those substances are effective only in toxic doses. In fact, a lot of the exotic love potion powders are dangerously toxic, so no licking toads or spiking the soup with a love potion. We need less hazardous ingredients.

There are different theories of what makes an aphrodisiac. The Encyclopedia Brittanica classifies aphrodisiacs into two principal groups: psychophysiological (visual, tactile, olfactory, aural) and internal (stemming from food, alcohol and other drugs, medicine etc). Obviously, if a food is shaped like genitalia or feels sexy, it's known as an aphrodisiac--how many boner flicks have you seen with a girl eating a banana or popsicle? If something stimulates your system or lowers your inhibitions, like caffeine, alcohol or weed, it's an aphrodisiac. (But don't quote me, I'm not saying drug your date.) Some say anything can be an aphrodisiac because setting the right mood is all you need. For the Love Feast, I choose to apply all of the above.

Creating a Love Feast is easier than it sounds. Most foods reported to have aphrodisiac qualities are common foods that are rich in minerals such as zinc and iron that boost your system, or have fiery natures to stimulate the body like pepper or garlic. Mineral rich seafood, oysters, lobster, and fish are considered aphrodisiacs. Horseradish, garlic, pine nuts, asparagus (for men mostly, for some reason it’s a diuretic for women), nutmeg, cardamon, ginger, walnuts, mangoes are also on the list. Of course, chocolate is in a class by itself as the ultimate love infusion. And I swear that steak and foie gras works wonders.

I incorporated many of these ingredients into the menu choices below. The key to creating a Love Feast is to orchestrate together fresh, low-starch foods. You don't want to be in a food coma after the meal for obvious reasons. Instead, you want to keep the stimulation going in elongated peaks and valleys. Look for flavors that compliment and enhance each other so you can savor each bite, lingering on the fresh and complex flavors. Choose your produce and meats very carefully. They must be absolutely fresh in order to retain their best aphrodisiac qualities.

Pick and choose, or if you're really ambitious, try them all and invite another couple for dinner.



Appetizer

Oyster Sashimi (Click for Recipes)
Chilled Oysters on the half shell with Japanese dressing.

Lobster, Avocado, Mango salad
Serve a little cooler than room temperature.

If you go for the oysters, spend a little more and buy the freshest, highest quality you can find. You are eating them raw after all. Wild Edibles at 255 Elizabeth Street (212) 625-9971 is a reliable source. Live lobster can be bought in Chinatown in any of the seafood markets. You only need one 1-1/2 lb lobster to make salad for two, and smaller lobsters have more tender meat than large lobsters.

Entree

Broiled Salmon Steak in olive oil with butter and lemon. Sides of chilled, blanched asparagus and pine-nut/basil pesto over angel-hair pasta.

Johnny Walker Steak
This is my own recipe, tried and true. Use your favorite cut of beef. Serve with a side of salad or lightly sautéed spinach (no creamed spinach today, too heavy), and rosemary crusty rolls from your baker. For a real sensory overload and dose of iron, top the steak with foie gras seared in salted butter, and black pepper. It’s an oral orgasm.

Naked Sashimi
If you absolutely must eat off each other, don’t reach for the reddi whip. Instead, try thin slices of yellowtail & salmon sashimi. Layer the succulent pieces on the body of your prone lover, lightly juice each slice with lemon. Feed each other slices (no fingers allowed). Pickled ginger go well in the navel, and sharing an uncut, peeled, sweet, juicy, sticky mango is a great finish. Of course, all of these dishes can be eaten naked. Set aside the Steak and Salmon to cool before applying to skin.

Dessert

Tiramisu
In Italy, Tiramisu is reputed to be an aphrodisiac. I personally attest to its power. This enticingly light, creamy, espresso soaked, chocolate-topped dessert will keep you up all night. Recipe? Fuck it, just buy it, New York is overrun with amazing Italian pasticcerias where you can also get Passionfruit Sorbet and pignoli cookies or any number of decadent chocolate mousse cakes.

Pasticcerias in Williamsburg:
Bruno’s Bakery on Lorimer at Conselyea. Fortunato Bros. on Devoe St. at Manhattan Avenue.
Manhattan: Venieros on 10th street at 2nd Avenue. Roccos on Bleecker St. at Cornelia Street.

Ganache Chocolates - This place is so divine that I didn’t want to out it, but I can't deprive you of this tip. I visited La Maison Du Chocolat recently and discovered their to-die-for hot chocolate, so rich and so pure, Swiss Miss will never do again. If you love hot chocolate and you're willing to splurge, buy a pint in dark or milk and bring it home. Add to it an assortment of Ganache Chocolates, and you'll have a scintillating high. Your lover will never forget it. La Maison Du Chocolat is located at 30 Rockefeller Center. Hot chocolate, $15 /pint. Chocolates, $55/lb.

For the setting, I like to keep things simple and open to possibilities. Candles, flowers, and music that you both like always adds ambience. The dishes above are already designed to have appealing colors for beautiful presentation, so just put them together. Other things to have in stock: water, wine and other liquors of choice, espresso or strong coffee, incense, that extra pack of cigarettes, clean towels, clean sheets, condoms or dental dams (let’s be honest), kleenex, massage oil, soft leather straps…everything your hearts could desire within arms reach or nearby. Cause you could go out to a restaurant and have all these love foods cooked for you, but the best thing about dinner at home is, you can stay all night.

send me mail:
Maya Fox

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