Oh February how quickly you have come and have left but you can’t take away the wonderful day Gulpers had at the Warehouse. That’s right we celebrated chocolate and aphrodisiacs at Coreen and Lebeau’s Warehouse location in Lake Park. A transformation has taken place in this once stark and sterile place. Sheer draping, twinkle lights, woven baskets and various other fun details really softened the space and made it very welcoming and comfortable. The space truly reflected our wonderful hosts. It was a wonderful introduction to the new Gulp Gathering Place and maybe it was the food but I think it was the location and guests that helped me feel a little romantic and friendly. John loved my mood when I got home….just sayin.
Before I get to the pairings let me give you a quick lesson on aphrodisiacs. I promise to keep it PG. Stop laughing! I can keep it clean! Okay, an aphrodisiac can be a food, a scent, a feeling that evokes and increases sexual desire. (see that was clean). The most popular aphrodisiacs are food because they work on all five senses. There are a couple of odd ball things that have been popular over the centuries. One is Rhino Horn which is used in the wilds of India and said to make a man’s virility unstoppable….whatever. The other one is a breast feeding woman. Again this is considered more of a turn on for a man.
Back to the food. Foods that are considered as having aphrodisiac properties are often visual representations of a man’s penis. There I said it! Penis! These foods are asparagus, carrots, cucumbers, and Olive Garden’s breadsticks. Other foods that are sexy are ones that smell and/or taste luscious and sensual. Chocolate is probably the most famous and that is why it is the most popular of Valentine Gifts. Oysters are popular because they are juicy and cold and slippery and….well, you get the picture. Wine is also considered an aphrodisiac. The aromas of smoky, fruity and sometimes flowery set the mood while the alcohol loosens the libido and conscience…I think that says enough. As a non-expert of aphrodisiacs but a married woman of a pretty good 30 years I recommend a regular diet of aphrodisiacs. Some of my favorites are lobster with butter sauce, think “Flash Dance” and for dessert chocolate sauce, think…. whatever you want.
Onto the pairings!
The First Course was a lovely twist on an asparagus and swiss cheese quiche and a leaf lettuce salad with a raspberry vinaigrette. The asparagus is well known as an aphrodisiac. English herbalist from the 17th century, Nicholas Culpepper, wrote that asparagus "stirs up lust in man and woman." The little twist to this savory pie of libido enhancers was instead of a pie crust for the quiche Coreen used croissants. I loved how the eggs melded into the buttery bread. The asparagus was fresh and still had bite. The swiss cheese brought it all together and added a lovely umami element. The salad was a great offset to the creamy, soft quiche. The lettuce had snap to it and the vinaigrette gave just the right amount of acid that lightened up the whole dish. Lebeau paired this with Barton & Guestier Sparkling Rose’. This is a refreshing rose slightly sweet with a nice effervescence. The nose is full of strawberries and summer. It tastes just the way it smells. The pairing of the rich eggy quiche with the sparkling wine was spot on. It cut the richness of the quiche and then joined with the salad for a wonderfully light entre’. Everyone at the table was thinking this was a perfect Sunday brunch course. It would certainly perk up my Easter Sunday.
The next course was an intermezzo. Well, not really, since an intermezzo is usually a palate cleanser in between the first and main course. This was a delicious foodie treat our friend and fellow Gulper, Kyle provided. His family owns a fish market, Captain Clay and Sons Fish Market, in Delray and they make their own smoked fish dip. I don’t like fish dip. It is always overpowering with smoke and fishiness and mayo…yuck. Not so Kyle’s offering. It was spicy, rich and yes smoky but it was not overpowering and it lightly dressed with mayo and it was fresh. Kyle served it on a slice of crusty french bread and a couple of slices of pickled jalapenos. Those spicy little green circles with their tang of vinegar helped cut the richness of the dip and the bread held it all together for a perfect bite.
The Second course was another one where a few Gulpers said they didn’t like the main ingredient then had to take it back. It featured, what I think most people consider first when we talk about aphrodisiacs, oysters. This was Coreen’s take on an oyster stew and it was my favorite course of the day. The oysters were perfectly tender and creamy. The bacon was there but didn’t overpower the other flavors as it can sometimes do. Barry loved the addition of the chard. It added a wonderful bite of texture and the bitterness of the green refreshed the palate before going in for the next rich spoonful of stew. Lebeau selected Rodney Strong Chardonnay to go along with this course. Great pick Lebeau! This crisp and refreshing wine was the perfect foil for the stew. There was vanilla and apple with just the right amount of toasted oak for a delicious glass. This course was a perfect example of something I have said many times before; the best thing about pairings is how the wine transforms the food and visa versa. These were a couple and they were making my mouth feel nothing but love. This course was so good the room went silent except for occasional slurps and moans of happiness; some very sexy sounds for foodies. There was one exclamation of “But I don’t like oysters!” Then she went silent again as she returned to her bowl. Oh yeah, this was good.
The Third course took us to the hot side of aphrodisiacs. Thai basil beef contained spicy chile and sweet basil, both of which are considered aphrodisiacs. The chile is pretty obvious as it warms up the insides but basil is a little more subtle. This sweet and slightly peppery herb dates back to Greece and has chemical properties said to enrich the blood and one’s desire. Put these together and it’s a hot time in the ol’ bed tonight. Coreen paired them up with tender ground beef, green beans and red bell pepper then nestled them gently into romaine leaves. The fact that you can eat this with your hands makes it a sensual and playful dish. The Henry Fessy St. Amore Beaujolais with its aromas of strawberries and spice made the meat juicier and amped up the spice in the meat mixture. The food mellowed out the acid in the wine and brought out cherries on the tongue. It was really, really delicious. My table-mate Corrina said this was her favorite course.
Our Fourth and final course was as sweet as the Valentine Holiday! Coreen created a honeyed goat cheese chocolate truffle which she lovingly placed atop vanilla ice cream and added a cocoa dusted almond. Lebeau paired it beautifully with a ruby port from Terra d’Oro. Here again was a course with a disliked ingredient transformed. Steve Hussey loudly proclaimed he HATED goat cheese. HATED IT! He LOVED this dessert. I think he may have eaten more than one truffle and asked for more! The truffle was a delicious combination of the tangy goat cheese tempered by the honey and enriched by the chocolate. By the way this little mouthful is an aphrodisiac powerhouse. Both the honey and the chocolate are classic aphrodisiacs. In fact, honey was called the nectar of Aphrodite by the Greeks. Sticky, gooey sweetness…oh yeah I am feeling amorous just thinking about it. The vanilla ice cream was just as luscious and of course vanilla in the ice cream is also a classic aphrodisiac. The aroma of the vanilla increases our sense of anticipation and excitement. It is also comforting and relaxing. Put the three together and somebody is very ready for love. Wait, don’t stop at the food add the Terra d’Oro Ruby Port and the whole thing gets even sexier. This is a Zinfandel port, deep dark and mysterious. The aroma is dark chocolate and raspberries and the flavor adds raisins and coffee to the party. It is a wondrous thing we weren’t seeing half the room leave the event early to go home and work off all those sweet, sensual and sexy ingredients that were flowing through our veins. I know I left quickly. I had a sudden urge to see what my husband was up to!
It was a very very good day. Thanks again Coreen and Lebeau!
March is Wine v Beer at Bx BeerDepot! Signup early! It is going to be awesome! See you next month!