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Thursday, February 4,2010

When Valentine's Day and good food collide

By Lauren Duncan

Legend has it that in third-century Rome, when St. Valentine heard of Emperor Claudius’ marriage ban, he set to work marrying love-struck couples in secret. Another story says that while in prison, Valentine wrote a letter to the girl he fell in love with and signed it, “From your Valentine.” While the history of Valentine’s Day remains mysterious, the meaning of Feb. 14 is quite clear today.

“It’s a great time to celebrate your relationship and identify what you like about that person,” says Jennifer Foster, managing director of It’s Just Lunch, a personalized matchmaking service with more than 100 locations worldwide, including Boulder. “We have a tendency to put our work first and ourselves second. Valentine’s Day is a time to say, ‘I need love in my life.’” Indeed, love is the focus on Feb. 14, from decorated mailboxes in second grade to sophisticated candlelit dinners. It’s also a lucrative day for business. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 180 million cards are purchased each year for Valentine’s Day, and 44 percent of households participate in a date night. Out on the town or cozy at home, date nights most always involve food. Come the 14th, Boulder will be home to many romantic and tasty events for its local lovers to enjoy. Below are several examples:

Prix fixe paradise

Looking to create sparks across the dinner table? Many restaurants in town will offer pre-set menus designed to do just that.

Jax Fish House: Five-course menu includes Dungeness crab cakes, sorel and radicchio salad, seared Ahi and chocolate dessert for two. $75 per person with $25 optional wine pairing.

Reservations: 303-444-1811.

Centro Latin Kitchen: Three-course menu features mole-crusted foie gras, white seabass grilled in corn husk and chocolate-ancho fundido for two. $55 per person with optional beverage pairings: $20 for wine, $15 for Avery beer, $25 for cocktails. Reservations: 303- 442-7771.

Happy Noodle House: Four-course menu offers Asian-inspired oysters, pan-roasted mushrooms and curryspiced leg of lamb. $45 per person with $25 optional wine, sake or cocktail pairings. Reservations: 303-442-3050.

West End Tavern: Beer-lovers menu includes five courses paired with a selection of Avery beers. Highlights include Latin BBQ duck taco, Cajun BBQ blackened shrimp jambalaya and butterscotch banana pudding. $65 per person. Reservations: 303-444-3535.

Zolo Southwestern Grill: Threecourse menu features smoked lobster pot pie with green chile biscuit crust, Colorado lamb loin and molten chocolate cake with peanut butter ice cream and caramelized banana. $45 per person with optional beverage pairings: $20 for cocktails, $15 for wine. Reservations: 303-444-3535.

Jill’s: Brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for $42.95 per person. Five-course dinner menu includes red beet soup, love letter pasta with slow-roasted pork, and Serrano ham-wrapped monkfish. Dinner is $60 per person with $25 optional wine pairings. Reservations: 720-406-7399.

Salt: Three-course menu will feature seasonal ingredients, including vegetarian, meat and fish dishes. Optional wine flights match the menu. $55 per person. On Feb. 12 and Feb. 13, regular menu will be available along with Valentine’s specials. Reservations: 303-444-7258.

Home for the Holiday For those who wish to avoid the crowds, the cost and the chaos, these ideas will ensure a lovely night in.

Through Feb. 12, Whole Foods will offer an online ordering service that allows customers to pre-order a decadent meal for two. By visiting www.wholefoods.com/stores/boulder, you can browse through an array of entrées, desserts and flower bouquets, place an order and pick it up at any local Whole Foods store. Items include beef tenderloin, New York strip steak, petite lobster tails, mango-glazed shrimp skewers and a variety of cakes and chocolate bars.

According to www.howstuffworks.com, a handful of aphrodisiac foods are especially useful for adding some spark to the evening. Honey is rich in B vitamins, which are necessary for testosterone production, and boron, which helps the body use estrogen. Papaya has compounds that act similar to estrogen, and has been used to increase a woman’s libido. Basil has been used for centuries to stimulate sex drive and boost fertility. Head to the market and get things cooking!

Singles Awareness Day

The barrage of pink and red on Valentine’s Day can be enough to send any single person running for seclusion.

“It puts a fire under you,” Foster says of being single on the day of romance. For 22-year-old Boulder resident Emily Sampl, the day is essentially meaningless.

“The only time Valentine’s Day has ever meant anything to me personally was in elementary school when we had class parties,” Sampl says.

Singledom need not be shameful on Feb. 14. Restaurants will reserve tables for more than two, so make a date for a group of friends and show the world that more is merrier. According to Foster, the worst thing to do is stay alone.

“Don’t just sit at home,” she says.

“Get out there and have some fun!”

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Adding to the featured restaurants Colterra Food and Wine in Niwot will be serving traditional dinner featuring Risotto with Lobster for the entire weekend with a four course pre-fix Valentine's night menu for $75.  Reservations 303-652-0777

 

 
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