Monday, February 15, 2010

A Valentine's Aphrodisiac Tasting Party

On Saturday evening, we hosted our Second Annual Valentine's Aphrodisiac Tasting Party.  I provided a list of suggested aphrodisiacs to get our creative, culinary juices flowing...almonds, asparagus, avocado, basil, bananas, champagne, chiles, chocolate, coffee, fennel, figs, garlic, grapes, honey, nutmeg, oysters, pine nuts, pineapple, pistachios, rosemary, strawberries, truffles, wine, vanilla...and everyone took it from there to create a dish to share.

Last year's party was a Progressive Party, with guests moving from house to house in the neighborhood.  There are a few photos from last year archived here, but that was before There's a Newf in My Soup! was officially launched.  Progressive parties are so much fun, but this year we decided to rendezvous at our house.

I was on the fence about what to prepare, right up until the day before, vacillating between figs and chocolate.  But also, in the back of my mind, I was contemplating a nice cheese platter, and tasting spoon amuse-bouche, similar to what was offered during my recent weekend in Las Vegas.  When I'm so indecisive, it's sometimes easier to do it all!

John took the lead with the cheese board, with four different cheeses.  We also provided tastings of Honeycomb, quince paste, and Foie Gras Truffle Mousse.  Many medicines in Egyptian times were based on honey, including cures for sterility and impotence. The Greeks and Romans considered the musky scent of the rare truffle to stimulate and sensitize the skin to touch.

Next to the cheese board, I contributed my homemade Mascarpone and Balsamic Strawberry tasting spoons.  Strawberries invite love and are described in erotic literature as fruit nipples....

For a nice post on making homemade mascarpone, visit Baking Obsession's post, here.  Simply marinate the strawberries in some balsamic vinegar for about 20 minutes and serve with the mascarpone.


With my figs, I tried Thomas Keller's (Ad Hoc) Fig and Balsamic Jam.  An open fig is thought to emulate the female sex organs and traditionally thought of as a sexual stimulant...

I have not yet added Ad Hoc to my collection of Thomas Keller cookbooks, but I was inspired by Bitchincamero's adaptation of the recipe, here and Sugar & Spice's post, here.


I served the jam with toasted baguette slices and goat cheese...


In addition to the cheese platter, John prepared Crispy Asparagus Straws - asparagus wrapped in prosciutto and phyllo, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, and baked.  You can find the recipe, here.  Pete and Julie also prepared a nice Asparagus platter. 

In addition to its phallic shape, asparagus is rich in vitamin E, which stimulates production of our sex hormones.  The men were encouraged to disregard the phallic shape... 


I've already blogged about the most incredible meatloaf in the world, Urban Solace's Not Your Momma's Meatloaf, here.  It was John's brilliant idea to make meatballs out of the recipe.  Loaded with aphrodisiacs - Figs, Pine Nuts, and a touch of Chile powder, and glazed with a Fig and Wine sauce, these balls of meat were delectable.  Pine Nuts have been used to stimulate the libido as far back as Medieval times...

Instead of browning the meatballs in oil on top of the stove, I tried Alton Brown's method of baking them in mini-muffin tins (one meatball in each tin) and it worked brilliantly!  Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes, turning the meatballs over and rotating the pan about half way through.



I wasn't the only one with Figs and Pine Nuts as my aphrodisiacs of choice.  Carmen prepared beautiful Fig Tarts with Caramelized Onions, Rosemary and Stilton, with Pine Nuts, and an optional drizzle of Honey.  This recipe is featured in the New York Times' slideshow, "Recipes for Romance."  Sorry, my photography did a nose dive on this one, but check out the photo and recipe in the New York Times' Dining and Wine Section.  This tart was outstanding!  Rosemary is noted for its powers to increase circulation...

Carmen also seduced us with a stunning Strawberrry, Blueberry and Mango Terrine...


Kai & Hillari arrived with the most amazing Chocolate Chicken Mole Coloradito.  Kai is an extraordinary home chef and always prepares something very special.  His mole contained at least three aphrodisiacs - Chiles, Garlic and Chocolate... and was inspired by this recipe, here.


Pammy, another dear friend who is always there with her smile and a salad, and affectionately known as our Salad Queen, scored some vibrant blood oranges for her Crisp Fennel and Blood Orange Salad.  Use of fennel as an aphrodisiac dates back to the Egyptian times where it was used as libido enhancement.  Notice the erotic serving utensils....


Jerry, Diane and Dan arrived with Dark Chocolate Hearts filled with rich truffle, and a plate of Pignoli Cookies.  Although I'm not sure what recipe they used, but Giada's version, here, sounds wonderful.  In a related recipe, Emeril has his aphrodisiacs covered with his Italian Fig Cookies, here, containing figs, honey, almonds and nutmeg.

Dean, a true gentleman, arrived on my doorstep with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, and  Chocolate-Covered Strawberries.  The Aztecs referred to chocolate as "nourishment of the Gods."   

I'm unable to share my dessert for the evening, until the Daring Bakers' reveal date on the 27th...but it did contain two aphrodisiacs...

Of course, the Champagne and Wine were flowing freely... several of us especially enjoyed the Sparkling Shiraz.  Wine relaxes and helps to stimulate our senses...

A bit later in the evening, after indulging in too many aphrodisiac-inspired dishes, and alcoholic beverages, Pammy stirred it up a bit with Lovers Lotto Scratch Offs.  We all scratched off our ticket and read the suggestive command...mine said, Tease erogenous zone with feather (WHAT), in the bedroom closet (WHERE), after work (WHEN)... The men were also presented with the opportunity to tear out a page from 101 Nights of Grrreat Sex: Secret Sealed Seductions for Fun-Loving Couples.   

Shortly thereafter, our friends said goodnight,  our party came to an end, and everyone went home to bed, or to sleep.  One night this week, after work, John and I will be heading to the closet...with a feather...


Bonne nuit, mon amour!

5 comments:

Brad said...

Thanks for hosting yet another awesome party! The quality of the food was equal to that of the guests.

The Bite Me Kitchen said...

Looks like a good time! Saucy theme, sounds fun :D

Dawn (KitchenTravels) said...

First time visiting your blog. Nice pics, and the party sounds like it was a lot of fun. Yummy looking food! But... no recipes? Am I missing something? :)

Denise said...

Brad: Thank you! We are lucky to have such awesome friends who share our love for cooking!

Rose: This annual party is definitely a keeper!

Dawn: Thank you for visiting and I do hope you'll come back. I usually do post recipes in each post, but this post was more about the party and sharing what everyone prepared. My main dish was the meatballs, featuring lamb, figs and pine nuts, and I did link to my previous post which contains the recipe. My dessert, with the recipe, will be revealed on the 27th, for the Daring Bakers. Carmen's tart was incredible, and that recipe is available on the NY Times' website. I will try to find out from Kai about his mole, which was out of this world delicious, and see if I can find a link to the recipe he used.

Denise said...

I've updated the post with a few more links to the recipes that inspired our Valentine's Aphrodisiac menu!