ST. GEORGE —Between work and family, finding romance can be a challenge – not to mention during a pandemic. However, whether it’s just a result of retailers’ not-so-subtle reminders since the first of the year that Valentine’s Day is approaching or the heart is truly pierced by Cupid, romance can be found in St. George. And once it is, there are plenty of opportunities to express that love.
Key to the heart is through the stomach
A special evening requires removing distractions and commitments. It is a rare opportunity to be mindful and just focus on you and your sweetheart. If you can escape the office, phone and children, a dinner out can be as simple as calling ahead and making reservations. For some, just the opportunity to get out of the house and not have to cook or do dishes is more precious than any shiny box with a bow.
Lobster has a reputation for being a sensual food and decadent splurge for special occasions. Aragosta, which translates to “lobster” in Italian, has a menu full of lobster specialties, including a bisque, lobster-stuffed ravioli in a lobster sauce and the coveted baked lobster tail.
“Lobster is for an occasion,” Aragosta owner and master Chef Imi Kun said.
What does Kun recommend for a table of amorous two? The surf and turf for a bit of “his and hers”: beef traditionally masculine and delicate lobster for the lady.
“The combination of sharing the platter is unique and a good match for couple sharing a special moment,” Kun said.
Companions can savor the occasion over candlelight, vases of fresh flowers, Italian bistro music and waitstaff who are well-schooled and aware to not interrupt hand holding or kisses across the table. On Fridays and Saturdays, Aragosta has live piano entertainment adding another level of pleasure for a dinner out.
If you are eager to take your darling home or didn’t save room for one of their succulent desserts, order it to go. The sticky toffee caramel cake or the Belgian chocolate cake, “that is for chocoholic,” are lusty options to share at home snuggled in your favorite room.
Get a room. Seriously.
If the house has become a full-time office or day care, it might require leaving the sight of its walls to inspire a spark. Sunsets, cocktails on a terrace and throw in some room service, how can that not be alluring?
Red Mountain Resort is not just for fresh air-starved big city tourists. A room at Red Mountain Resort includes spectacular views of the Red Desert Reserve and options to add on a treatment at the Sagestone Spa, including his and her massages.
The Advenire is St. George’s latest boutique hotel, part of the Marriott collection. The prime downtown location makes it a walkable date night to surrounding venues. Or if preferred, don’t even leave the premises and wine and dine at the Wood Ash Rye restaurant.
Inn on the Cliff also sees its share of locals for a staycation. Couples can take in the view of the city, have dinner at the Cliffside Restaurant or stay in the comfort of your room enjoying room service, including breakfast in bed in the morning.
Surf your own turf
Concerns about COVID or a potential hit to the wallet means going out is not ideal for everyone. Serving your own tempting bites and setting an inviting mood can be an enticing option.
For those who don’t want to cook, you can easily have it catered by private chefs and do carryout. Most restaurants are accommodating, adopting to new habits since the start of the pandemic, and offer to-go options.
Kun says with advanced order for any occasion, diners can “invite love into your home.”
“We have nice take-out platters from our kitchen to your table,” he said.
Have your own playlist – of music, that is – and your evening is set.
Chef Jackie Dodart of Harmons Cooking School and her colleagues offer clever ideas and hacks to prepare some intimate food, set the stage and feel indulgent without being breaking the bank.
Start your evening with a glass of something bubbly, such as champagne, prosecco or something as simple as 7-Up with grenadine – Dodart recommends one of the super effervescent Fentimans Sparkling Elderflowers or Rose Lemonade – and a small charcuterie board.
“Is an inexpensive way to feel indulgent,” Dodart said.
To minimize a full cheese plate for an appetizer for two, assemble samples on a pick and make it look festive with heart-shaped cuttings of cheese or jicama, topped with a cherry tomato.
Dodart also recommends fondue for an entrée or appetizer.
“I think it is so romantic to share a beautiful pot of hot melted cheese or chocolate.”
Dipping and sharing bites can be alluring and sensual. These can be prepared on the stovetop with a double boiler, and ramekins are perfect for two versus using a full fondue pot.
A word of caution when preparing a cheese-fest for romance: It’s best to avoid strong stinky cheese, which could be mood crusher! Unless, of course, one likes the smell of stinky feet.
Oysters are widely considered an aphrodisiac; however, they can be intimidating to prepare, and not everyone likes them raw.
Even the professional Dodart confesses: “They are so hard to get that dang shell open!”
She suggests that a savvy shortcut is to buy oysters jarred and prepare a classic Rockefeller and bake it in a ramekin.
Harmon’s Chef Eric Gburski suggests the ultimate romantic food is the artichoke, steamed or grilled.
“It is something you can share, leaf by leaf, to get to the heart together,” he said.
When asked the advantages of staying home versus going out, Dodart says, “You can wear sexy loungewear at home, set your own music, create your own tablespace and show off your culinary skills.”
Or skip the meal all together.
If you’re still looking for ideas for an intimate menu, Harmons Cooking School in Santa Clara is offering several different cooking classes leading up to the holiday, but don’t wait. Openings fill up fast.
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