Friday, April 24, 2009

"A" is for Aphrodisiacs and Avocados







When preparing avocados, to avoid the browning of avocado flesh when exposed to air, place the pit with the flesh until ready to use. If making guacamole, keep the pit in the guacamole.

Wine certainly tops the list as being a libido booster, especially on special occasions like romantic summer picnics, first dates, and honeymoons and on Valentine’s Day. Wine is also the perfect romantic partner to pair with aphrodisiacs.

Everyone knows that a glass of wine, when consumed in moderation and with food, allows us to slow down, relax, experience the wonders of our senses and live in the moment.

Bubblies, for example, can tease and tantalize the tongue and set your imagination afire! But all wines like sparkling wines, Champagnes, white and red table wines are produced in a variety of styles that make them ideal to marry to an array of aphrodisiacs.

When pairing aphrodisiacs with wine, keep the partnerships simple. No need to dress them up. Naked or scantily dressed is just fine. The focus should be on your romantic partner, not the food.

Cupid’s asparagus, due to its phallic shape, is considered an aphrodisiac. Steam the asparagus until tender, but leave slightly crisp. Sprinkle sea salt and toasted almonds over them. Or wrap asparagus in a thin slice of prosciutto and grill on the barbecue until crisp. Prosciutto is very salty. Pair salty asparagus with a brut sparkling wine, brut Champagne or crisp dry white wine like Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, dry Riesling from Canada, Soave from Italy or Vinho Verde from Portugal. The sourness from these wines (their acidity) offsets the saltiness from sea salt and prosciutto.

Folklore has it that Casanova ate over 50 raw oysters a day to boost his libido. Oysters, due to their texture, offer sensual, tactile pleasure. They are also believed to contain compounds that are effective in releasing sexual hormones such as testosterone and estrogen. Raw oysters on the half shell have a briny saltiness that complements the above-mentioned bubblies and crisp, dry white wines. Use a drizzle of fresh lemon juice on the raw oysters, as well. Oysters on the half shell paired with brut Champagne, are considered a classical partnership.

“A” is also for avocado! Fresh avacado is an aphrodisiac. The avocado flower is considered bisexual, in that it changes its sex while bloosoming. It was once believed that eating avacado flesh would make men more fertile and therefore more attractive to women. Avacado is a fatty fruit and therefore harmonizes with wines offering lots of fattiness. The higher the alcohol, the greater the wine’s viscosity. Viscosity is a technical term that refers to a wine’s level of thickness. The thickness is experienced as a wine’s texture or mouth feel. The higher the alcohol (13.5 to 14.5%), the thickeer or fattier the mouth feel of the wine. Remember the first building block principle – same with same. Pair the fattiness of a food with fattiness in wine. Nothing could be more romantic than feeding your lover a spoonful of crab and avacado soup with cilantro and a smidgen of lime juice, followed by a sip of warm climate Chardonnay, one produced in South Africa or Australia.

Fresh fig was traditionally thought of as a sexual stimulant. A man breaking open a fig and eating it in front of his lover was and no doubt still is a powerful erotic act – although my husband has never ventured to try this. Serve fresh figs in a cool bowl of water as it is done in Italy and be sure to eat with your fingers! The sweetness in fresh figs works well with a hint of sweetness in an off-dry white wine like Gew├╝rztraminer or off-dry Riesling. This follows the first building block principle of same with same – the sweetness in food matching the sweetness in wine. You can dress up your figs by splitting them open, stuffing them with blue cheese and wrapping them with bacon. Pan fry or grill them until the bacon is crispy. These savoury figs work with a red wine with forward fruit character, such as a California Zinfandel or Australian Shiraz. The saltiness from bacon and blue cheese complements the soft tannin in these red wines.

The heat from chili peppers can ignite the heat of passion by increasing and improving blood circulation and increasing perspiration as our pores open up. Just remember that the greater the heat and spice in your food, the more sweetness will be required in the sparkling wine. Subtle heat and spice is complemented by a sparkling wine with a hint of sweetness. Hot and spicy foods – ones that make your brow perspire -- work best with late harvest white wines possessing plenty of sweetness, such as Vidal or Riesling. The contrast of chilled, dessert wine followed by hot chilies on the tongue is also considered an erotic sensation. Spicy Thai shrimp and off dry Riesling is certainly a combination that will make your romantic partner MOAN!

The Aztecs believed chocolate had aphrodisiac qualities. Chocolate contains substances called Phenylethylamine and Seratonin. Both are released into the nervous system by the brain and so lift our mood. When our mood is lifted we experience feelings of love, passion and lust. This can cause a rise in our blood pressure and an increase to our heart rate, thus inducing feelings of euphoria.

Dark chocolate high in cocoa (86% or higher) is suited to a red wine partner. The reason is that the higher the cocoa the more bitter the chocolate. This bitterness harmonizes with the bitterness levels in a variety of red wine styles. Chocolate made with 60% cocoa works best with light, fruity reds, such as Pinot Noir. Chocolate with 76% cocoa or higher works nicely with reds wines offering forward fruit character like Zinfandel and Shiraz. When the chocolate has 86% cocoa or higher go for Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc. Serve chucks of chocolate with toasted walnuts alongside a bottle of red wine.

Port and dark chocolate are about as romantic as one can get. The key is to make sure the Port is sweeter than the dark chocolate.

Icewine is rich, sweet and enticing, as well. Strawberries dipped in dark chocolate act as a delicious aphrodisiac to pair with an Icewine produced from red grape varieties, such as Cabernet Franc.

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