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How to provide that food spark for Valentine’s

Cape Times logo Cape Times 2019-02-08 Nathan Adams

a close up of a doughnut: Excite the senses this Valentine’s Day. Photo: Pexels © Provided by Independent Media Excite the senses this Valentine’s Day. Photo: Pexels Every Valentine’s Day, a romantic meal is always on the menu.

Candlelight and soft music create the perfect ambiance for romance, but so does the food you serve your partner and even how you serve it.

Urban myths will have you believe there are a handful of aphrodisiacs you can include on your menu and it will get your Valentine’s pulse racing and in the mood for whatever awaits after your romantic meal.

But aside from the oysters and chocolates, there are many other ingredients you can include - and some might be in your kitchen or pantry - and you’ve overlooked them.

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From the smell, the look and eventually the taste, this Valentine’s Day stop for a moment and consider that passion killers are lurking everywhere and one overlooked seasoning could spoil the mood.

Similarly, just a sprinkle of the right ingredient or even a side dish to your main, could be the romantic food item to start all the sparks you never even knew you were missing.

Claire Goosen is studying towards her PhD in the sensory analysis of Cheddar cheese and says you should carefully select your Valentine’s Day menu.

“Mood affects your taste. Recent research indicates that positive emotions are related to enhanced sweet and reduced sour intensities while negative emotions are associated with heightened sour and decreased sweet tastes,” she said.

Cheese is a convenient and easy way to set the mood and tickle the taste buds.

The team at Sensory Intelligence Consulting help clients to make the most of their senses so that people can work, live and learn best. 

This also extends to relationships and understanding the sensory style of yourself and your partner can remove loads of conflict, misunderstanding but also spark those romantic moments.

a person holding a wine glass in one hand and a fork: Photo: Pexels © Provided by African Technology and Media Holdings (Pty) Ltd Photo: Pexels

Perfect cheese partnerships

Claire Goosen has her own tips: “You can’t go wrong pairing a well-balanced MCC and mature Cheddar (Woolworths 18-month mature) or a rich and creamy white mould cheese (St Louis).”

Pomegranate seeds are also a well- kept secret - rich in antioxidants and helping to promote blood flow, which is the effect you’re looking for.

“The sweet, slightly acidic taste of fresh pomegranate pairs well with chèvre, a firm, aged goat’s milk cheese,” Goosen says.

Boron is a trace mineral which can help regulate hormones, boost your energy and increase testosterone.

You’ll find it in beets and in honey, which is a great combination with your cheese.

Claire says: “A drizzle of honey on a blue mould cheese mellows the sharp flavour of the cheese.

“Capsaicin in chilli excites the palate, which in turn heightens the sense of taste, flavour and texture, so your traditional Philadelphia cream cheese pairs well, or experiment with a mature Gouda cheese.”

How to make a cheese fondue


300g cheeses, chopped into chunks (whatever you have left over from your party cheeseboard - Gruyère is delicious)

100g cream cheese

2 tbs milk

2 tsp flour


1 tbs grated Parmesan/Cheddar (optional)

4 tbs onion marmalade


Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.

Mix the chopped cheeses.

Add the cream cheese, milk, flour and pepper and mix with a spoon.

Spoon the onion marmalade into an oven-proof dish (12-15cm diameter) and spread out evenly.

Top with the cheese mixture.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until the cheese starts to bubble.

Top with the Parmesan or Cheddar, if using, and put under a medium-high grill until it turns golden.

Serve with hunks of crusty bread or radicchio/chicory leaves for dipping. Experiment with different cheeses - our onion marmalade is versatile and will complement all cheeses, from a good Cheddar to a creamy blue. 

A meal for the senses

Marieta du Toit is a blogger and workshop co-ordinator and says you should consider all the senses when planning your meal.

“Include different textured food, start of with a crunchy appetiser, maybe a salad including crunchy, fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, etc.

“If you can hear the food crunch in your mouth, you’ve managed to include the sense of sound as well.

“Follow with a main meal consisting of softer, juicier food, for example, a roast lamb with mashed potato and then finish with a cold, refreshing dessert, possibly strawberries with whipped cream.”

But the golden rule is “when making food choices for the meal, try not to include too many different and varying tastes”, she says.

There are also other tricks you could use to set the senses on the right track.

Think of special moments you and your partner have shared and try to recreate it with scent. If you met at a coffee shop, go back there and buy their signature brew, a familiar smell will reignite the initial passion you both shared and subconsciously take you back to that memorable moment.

How to make sensuous dessert

Turkish delight and pomegranate ripple

This can be made a day in advance.


75g rose Turkish delight, thinly sliced

100ml (pomegranate juice)

100ml whipped cream

1 tsp vanilla extract or bean paste

½ tsp finely grated orange zest

25g icing sugar, sifted

400g thick Greek yoghurt


Place the Turkish delight in a small pan with the pomegranate juice, bring to the boil and simmer for a couple of minutes until the Turkish delight softens and starts to melt.

Whizz it in a food processor for a minute or two until you have a translucent liquid jelly.

Pass through a sieve into a bowl to remove any specks of Turkish delight.

Leave to cool to room temperature.

Combine the cream with the vanilla, orange zest and icing sugar in a medium bowl and whisk to soft, fluffy peaks using an electric whisk.

Fold this into the yoghurt in a large bowl.

Spoon three-quarters of the liquid jelly over the surface and fold into the cream mixture. Pile this into four 150ml glasses, ramekins or cups, and drizzle over the reserved jelly.

Cover and chill for a couple of hours.

Serving suggestion: decorate with extra slivers of Turkish delight and accompany with a thin slice of baklava if desired.

Cape Times

Related: 18 desserts to make on Valentine's Day (Provided by Microsoft GES) 

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