Perfume Illuminated: FlavorI love Valentines Day simply because the notion of one full day devoted to love with it’s many hearts, flowers and grand gestures of amour just completely captivates my already way too vivid imagination! From the time that I was a little girl I loved the rituals and mysteries surrounding it and I delighted in hand making frilly cards and shoeboxes filled with the promise of a special secret crushes! I’ve always believed in true love and the total probability of love at first sight which I experienced first hand 30 years ago when I met my husband. One look and there was no one else for me..... I fell and fell hard. My husband 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. So needless to say, in our home Valentines Day is well celebrated and I couldn’t have picked a better guy to indulge in my love of it! I have a hard time keeping it to one day out of every year and I can get pretty flamboyant ; for example I’m not immune to creating milk, rosewater and honey candlelight baths, floating rose petals by the dozens in the tub , creamily, fragrant soft skin being one of the most important ingredients of passion! I’ll search everywhere until I find just the right rose colored lipstick (Lipstick Queens Medieval! ) and one year I changed all of our light bulbs to a soft pink cast Yes, I may be just a bit obsessed.......
Thankfully this same extraordinary 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 favorite Diorissimo Parfum nestled playfully among our pillows. Then he walked in smiling shyly , holding 2 flutes and a bottle of Veuve Cliquot. I laughed and produced the chocolate fondue that was hidden and waiting patiently in the corner.
Who says that you can’t eat dessert first!
So let’s talk about the three flavors that make up the utterly sexy and almost unholy trinity of love...... Chocolate , Wine and Roses! Individually they are wonderful and certainly acceptable on their own but together they create a magical spell like no other.....the 3 most potent aphrodisiacs that I know. A syrup made of red wine and roses will lend an aura of romantic mystery and a beautiful rose color to a glass of champagne. Just take a couple of cups of red wine and two thirds of a cup of sugar and put it into a pan to which you’ve added a big pinch of ground pink peppercorn, some fresh lemon zest a cinnamon stick and a handful of unsprayed rosebuds. Boil it all down to a syrup and add a tablespoon or two into any glass of champagne or wine! The syrup is wonderful drizzled over vanilla ice cream or gelato that you’ve softened and folded some amaretto soaked cherries and tasty bits of chopped chocolate into! Another wonderful combination is vanilla ice cream and chopped chocolate covered strawberries, which if you’ve never made them , you owe it to yourself to try because it’s very easy! Here is the Food Networks recipe, which is in my opinion the easiest and the best. I’ve made dozens of these without issue. Just make sure that you don’t get even a smidge of water anywhere near the chocolate or it will seize up , turning the whole thing into a grainy mess.
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 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. Stir until smooth. (Alternatively, melt the chocolates in a microwave at half power, for 1 minute, stir and then heat for another minute or until melted.)
Once the chocolates are melted and smooth, remove from the heat. Line a sheet pan with parchment or waxed paper. 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. This is also a great project to do with kids. Instead of a plate of cookies to take to school for the Valentines Day party, give your children and their friends a healthier Valentines Day treat! I used to make these with my son and my nieces and nephews. I’ve seen platters of them literally disappear in minutes, but without leaving a sugar induced frenzy in their place!
Infused wines are a lovely treat this time of year and a bottle of icewine can be made even more delicious by adding a tablespoon or two of food grade rosewater and a cup of fresh raspberries to it. Ice wine or Eiswein is an incredibly fragrant and lustily sweet wine that is made from pressing grapes that have been allowed to freeze while they’re still attached to the vine. The end result is an incredibly honeyed and gorgeous dessert wine and entire festivals are held in it’s honor. Some of the finest icewines that I’ve ever tasted are produced by our neighbors just to the north of us in the Niagara Peninsula so you don’t need to buy an authentic German version. Try the Inniskillin Riesling Icewine or the Peller Estates Cabernet Franc Ice Wine, both of which are creamy, sexy and extraordinarily rich!
Just decant the icewine and add the rosewater and the berries. Muddle the berries until the whole thing turns pink , strain and pour into pretty little glasses, preferably something very fragile and lovely. I love taking this page out of my mothers playbook! No paper napkins please and when wooing a gentlemen properly (or in this case improperly!) with food, that you should be sure to use your daintiest dishes and most elegant glasses because their fragility would be disarming. She was right of course...men are the most enchanted by that which they are not. Our intense femininity applied directly allows them access to their own softer sides...a good thing when you are hoping to bring a very special one to his knees!
This is the box of Chocolates that I'm craving this Valentines Day! This is the full boxed set of Roxana Villa's newest Chocolate perfumes! If you haven't tried them you absolutely must for they are original, incredible and seductively scented with Cerise and Orange, Spice, Pine , Jasmin, Rose, Vanilla and many other delicious flavors working their magic within a luscious base of Scharffen Berger cocoa , cocoa butter, jojoba oil, organic beeswax, handcrafted infusions, fair trade cocoa powder and a delightful bit of magic!
Finally and of course saving the best for last, there is chocolate fondue. If I could always have my favorite meal every year on Valentines Day, it would definitely be a meal of fondue. I’m a child of the 60’s so the reemergence of this sinfully simple cooking style is long overdue for a romantic like me! I’d probably start with a platter of marinated filet with pieces of lobster tail 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 with some drawn butter for the lobster. Probably a potato or two for my husband and some freshly steamed asparagus on the side with a bit of béarnaise! No bread, because in my experience heavy carbs tend to be a passion killer ...the exact opposite effect that we wish for such an evening!
After dinner and possibly a beautifully scented bath pour deux I’d begin to think about dessert! First I’d assemble a pretty platter of delicious things to dip like marshmallows, bananas, strawberries, some very juicy fresh mango , candied ginger and peeled fresh orange slices!
Then I’d make the fondue! My Fleur de Sel Chocolate Fondue is 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. It’s up to you where you serve this, but my choice would always be snuggled up on the couch in front of the fire and watching “Chocolat”....... again!
One final note. For years I’ve written about love and passion as being between a man and a woman simply because that’s my experience. I know that’s is not the only choice. It’s my hope that any of my friends who are LGBT will know that I include them in all of my thoughts and writings and that this year my Valentines Day wish is that they are finally accorded the same rights of relationship as my husband and I enjoy. My wish is cast in the names of the Goddess’s Venus and Aphrodite who simply would not have understood nor tolerated this horrific affront to the very essence of love. Blessed Be.
Now.....Float over to Roxana Villa's Illuminated Journal to enjoy her Fragrant musings and suggestions for a Chocolate, Wine and Rose rich Valentines Day!
Images courtesy of The Melting Pot, Beth Schreibman Gehring and Roxana Villa