BY: JUSTIN ROCKET SILVERMAN
Aphrodisiac foods include Pomegranate Black Walnut Molasses Yogurt from Juni; it’s perfect for Valentine’s Day.
When booking your Valentine’s Day dinner, why not choose a spot with dishes as stimulating as they are tasty.
From oysters to arugula, and figs to pomegranates, aphrodisiacs can add flavor — and fun — to your night.
“An aphrodisiac is something that promotes passion and stimulates desire,” says Meryl Rosofsky, an adjunct professor of nutrition and food studies at New York University. “In the modern day we also tend to think of things that enhance performance.”
Chilies are an aphrodisiac mainstay, as they’re powerful stimulants of heart rate and blood flow. Pomegranates are more subtle, but their antioxidants allow more blood to circulate. Red wine has the same effect, as well as intoxicating properties. Meanwhile, oysters owe their aphrodisiac qualities to high levels of zinc, which can increase production of the sex hormone testosterone.
But don’t get caught up in all that technical stuff. “[Aphrodisiacs] mainly work because our sexuality is bound up in our imaginations,” Rosofsky explains.
So let your imagination run wild with the help of these aphrodisiac-packed menu items.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Chicken from Chef Fed
Pomegranate-Black Walnut-Molasses Yogurt, from Juni
Pomegranates already have aphrodisiac properties thanks to their antioxidants, which help boost blood flow. Add the fruit seeds to a delectable dessert, and they’re even more appealing.
Juni pastry chef Mina Pizarro starts with a burnt molasses crumble in a shallow bowl, then pours freshly squeezed pomegranate juice over it. Then comes black walnut custard seasoned with white chocolate. Whole pomegranate seeds are set inside the custard. The cherry on top isa dollop of goat milk frozen yogurt. The whole dish is then dusted with black salt and rained over with micro orchids.
The dessert is perfect for any date night, since nothing is less sexy than an overstuffed stomach.
“The ladies enjoy it because it’s a light dessert that is very refreshing,” says Pizarro. “Get ready to get sexy after dinner.”
Aphrodisiac foods also include Chocolate and Jungle Peanut Butter Cheesecake from Pure Food and Wine.
Legend has it that in the 18th century, Casanova ate 50 oysters a day to aid him on his sexual adventures. Apparently they worked, because the Italian adventurer is said to have slept with more than 130 women.
Modern science has confided that the shellfish do contain high levels of zinc, which encourages testosterone production and could have helped Casanova on his lusty quests.
The John Dory Oyster Bar offers a rotating selection of oyster varieties, including some with playful names like Naked Cowboys. And while there are plenty of places to enjoy fresh raw oysters in New York, few are attached to the lobby of the Ace Hotel.
Oysters at John Dory Oyster Bar
Wild Arugula, Curly Red Mustard Greens and Fresh Figs and Chocolate and Jungle Peanut Butter Cheesecake, both from Pure Food and Wine
One is an appetizer and one is a dessert, but both of these creations are raw, vegan and totally energizing. The orange mascarpone cheese that sits seductively inside each split fig is made of cashew nuts instead of milk. And the fig itself is one of history’s great aphrodisiacs — legend has it they were Cleopatra’s favorite fruit.
“Raw food is ideal for Valentine’s Day because it doesn’t weigh you down and leave you feeling sleepy or sluggish,” says Pure Food and Wine founder Sarma Melngailis. “It’s colorful, fresh and healthy, and healthy is sexy.”
The “cheesecake” is likewise free of actual cheese, but it’s not a problem in this rich combination of raw chocolate and jungle peanuts.
“Chocolate is an aphrodisiac,” says Melngailis, “and chocolate in its pure raw form is the best way to have it and feel that effect.”
Want a bottle of red? Check out the wine mezzanine at Aureole.
36,000 bottles of red wine, at Aureole
Red wine gets blood flowing, and what’s more liberating than choosing your favorite?
Chef Charlie Palmer likes red wine so much that he makes his own. The owner of Aureole and other restaurants nationwide also has a vineyard in California.
Wild Arugula, Curly Red Mustard Greens and Fresh Figs from Pure Food and Wine
“I’ve always felt that red wine is sexy, especially Pinot Noir,” he says. “That’s why I make Pinot Noir.”
Palmer’s variety is called Charlie Clay, and it’s among the collection in Aureole’s massive wine room. “Research shows the antioxidants in red wine can widen blood vessels and increase blood flow,” says Palmer. “It only makes sense that when you drink red wine things start flowing and everything works better.”
PBJs for lovers
A steamy cooking session with your partner can be even more sexy than a dinner reservation.
“Cooking together is combining the two most life-affirming things: food and love,” says Juerg Federer, who goes professionally by Chef Fed, and teaches aphrodisiac cooking classes at his Lower East Side school, Sex on the Table.
Of the unique aphrodisiac dishes students cook up here is a peanut butter and jelly chicken dish.
“A lot of people have good memories attached to the peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” Chef Fed says. “So I made a dish with a peanut reduction and raspberry chutney.”
Peanut butter and jelly chicken might seem more strange than sexy, but Chef Fed says that’s exactly the point.
“The biggest part of seducing with food is the same as seducing a person on a date — it’s that element of surprise,” he says. “The most seductive thing is when people make noises in the restaurant that they usually do only in the bedroom.”
This dish could have just that effect.
Recipe: Pomegranate-Black Walnut-Molasses-Yogurt
From Juni pastry chef Mina Pizarro.
2 cups pomegranate juice (from 10 pomegranates)
1/2 cup simple syrup
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Break down 10 pomegranates and reserve seeds from the pith of the fruit. Breaking it down in a bowl of water allows the pith to float to the top and makes for easier separation.
Place a bowl under a strainer and squeeze the seeds with your hands through the strainer.
Season your pomegranate juice with simple syrup and lemon juice.
Reserve and refrigerate.
BLACK WALNUT CUSTARD:
4 cups black walnuts
1 quart milk
4 1/4 cups heavy cream
In a 350-degree oven, toast black walnuts for 10 minutes. Simultaneously, heat quart of milk until it reaches a gentle steam.
Both elements hot, combine and steep walnut in cream for 30 minutes. Cover with plastic film and reserve.
Strain walnut mixture.
1 1/3 cup walnut cream
4 egg yolks
3 1/3 cups or 14 ounces white chocolate
2 cups walnut cream
1/2 cup skim milk
Place the 1 1/3 cups walnut cream in a pot. Place yolks in a small bowl.
Heat walnut cream to a gentle steam. Ladle some hot cream to your bowl of yolks and whisk until combined. Scrape yolk mixture into pot of hot cream. With a rubber spatula mix the mixture and heat to a temperature of 180 degrees.
Strain walnut mixture onto your white chocolate and mix until smooth.
Continue to mix additional walnut cream and skim milk. Reserve and refrigerate.
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup glucose syrup
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon molasses
1 large egg white
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
Place sugar, water and glucose syrup in a pot. Attach a sugar thermometer and cook syrup to 248 degrees.
In a standup mixer with whisk attachment, start whisking your whites with sugar.
Add molasses and honey to the pot and cook to 266 degrees.
Take your sugar syrup and stream into the bowl avoiding the whisk. Work the mixture until dry and crumbly. Reserve and freeze.
3 1/4 cups yogurt (such as Fage)
1 cup simple syrup
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Blend all ingredients together and blend in ice cream maker.
Assembly of dish: In a bowl. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of crumble and toast with a torch. Pour 1 cup of chilled pomegranate soup. Top it with ¼ cup of walnut custard. Garnish with fresh pomegranate seeds and some candied walnuts.
Place a scoop of frozen yogurt on top and serve.
Recipe: Peanut Butter Jelly Chicken
By Chef Fed
1 pound penne, cooked
1/2 pound cheese (equal parts of Emmental and Gruyere)
1 cup half and half
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup raspberries
1/8 cup vinegar
1/8 cup brown sugar
5 drops hot sauce
2 tablespoons thyme leaves
4 chicken breasts, bone-in (boneless okay, too)
1 clove garlic
1 sprig thyme
1 cup port wine
1 cup coffee
1/2 tablespoon peanut butter
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup olive oil
Butter a baking tray, mix penne with cheese, put in buttered tray, fill with salted half-and-half and heavy cream. Bake at 350 degrees until brown on top (about 30 minutes).
Cook raspberries with vinegar, sugar, hot sauce and half of thyme leaves until consistency is like jelly.
Sear chicken in small amount of coconut oil, flavored with a sprig of thyme and a garlic clove crushed, skin on.
Reduce port wine on medium heat to 1/2 cup, reduce coffee to 1/4 cup. Mix both reductions.
Finish chicken in oven at 350 degrees until well done (10-15 minutes).
Heat olive oil until hand warm, mix with rest of thyme leafs, add a hint of salt.
Whisk butter in boiling port/coffee reduction, finish with peanut butter.
Serve chicken over mac and cheese, with raspberry jelly, thyme oil and peanut butter sauce.