Valentine's Day: Recipe for Romance

They say food is the way to win someone's heart. We asked gorgeous Latin American Chef Alejandro Saravia from The Taste of Peru, for his top tips to help woo your partner this Valentine's Day and prepare a deliciously romantic evening.

Do you believe in the saying that “food is the way to win someone’s heart?”

Since ancient times, food has been used to express feelings and emotions.
When you cook with passion, using all your senses, the result is more than just food, it’s an absolute declaration of love.
A good way to start a romantic evening is always with a glass of wine and a sensual dinner.

What are your top tips for our readers to cook a romantic meal for their special someone this Valentine’s Day?

The most important thing when organising a dinner, especially on Valentine’s Day, is "not to overcomplicate it", simply enjoy and share the experience with the one you love.
Remember that they will expect you to be sitting at the table sharing that romantic moment with them, not in and out of the kitchen. Also remember that it’s a romantic dinner, so avoid heavy meals that would probably make you and your guest feel too full to enjoy the rest of the evening!

Are there any essential ingredients that should be incorporated?

A good starter is always a glass of sparkling wine to relax and break the ice.
Oysters are great to keep the romantic mood and enjoy sharing with each other.
My tip is to use some drops of truffle oil as dressing of the main dish. Truffle oil (like oysters) are aphrodisiacs and have a beautiful taste and texture.
As a final touch, raspberries with cream to increase the passion and of course, a little bit of chocolate!

How important is presentation and ambience? Any tips here?

Ambience is really important when organizing a dinner. Think about how you want your guests or that special person to feel during the dinner and what the occasion is. This will set the mood for the rest of the dinner.
A key point that I always have in mind when setting a table or room for a dinner is fresh flowers and the right lighting.
Flowers always bring to the room a nice touch of fresh fragrance. I recommend frangipani or jasmine, and they both have a fresh and subtle fragrance.
Lighting will set the mood for that special dinner. Using candles is always a good idea, placing them on the table or around the table on the floor or on top of any nearby furniture (but not where they’re going to set light to anything!). Candles give a sense of warm environment and romanticism.

In your opinion, what is the most romantic and sensual dish Latin American cuisine has to offer?

In South America and particularly where I come from - Lima on the coast of Peru - the most sensual dish we have is “Ceviche”.
This reflects the richness of the Pacific Ocean, creating a perfect balance between fresh flavors and aphrodisiac ingredients. Choose a white and tender type of fish (Snapper) and the seafood of your choice and create a Passion from the Pacific.

What’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever done for someone?

When I first met my wife, here in Sydney, she was about to leave Australia to go to her country. We just had a couple of weeks to date before she left.
For our last weekend together, I sent her a letter just saying: I’ll meet you at Bennelong Point - bring a bikini and your beautiful smile”.
I took her for a romantic walk around the Domain, and after…to the airport.
Next thing she knows we’re in Byron Bay, on a stunning beach, with a romantic dinner, candles, a bottle of wine, and me proposing to her!
The rest is history!

Awww, how sweet Alejandro! Could you also please supply a suggested recipe for our readers this Valentine's Day? Thanks so much!

Of course! Click here for my recipe entitled "Passion at the Pacific" - featuring Snapper, Japanese Scallops and Prawn Ceviche.

For more romantic recipe ideas, check out our special Valentine's Day Recipe Collection!

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