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Volume xviii, Issue 6 ~ February 11 - February 17, 2010

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Love On the Rocks

Disclaimer: It is never romantic — and can be illegal — to ply a partner with alcohol. And as tipsy Don Juans can attest, too much of a good thing will never get you an Oscar for best performance.

That said, nothing shouts romance like a popping cork.

Champagne is the quintessential romantic drink. A bottle of Dom Perignon chilling in an ice bucket is enough to make the hardest of hearts flutter. Pair it with juicy, red strawberries and let the bubbles take it from there.

Champagne cocktails get flirtatious, with names like Axis Kiss and Blushing Bride. Or serve a champagne version of the Cosmopolitan, the favorite drink of the Sex and The City gals.

If champagne isn’t your cup of tea, mix up a cocktail. For these love potions, you’ll need a cocktail shaker, shot glass and a bucket of ice.

A classic martini went a long way for James Bond. But perhaps you’ll score with such naughty drinks as Sex on the Beach, Naked Lady, French Kiss and Skinny Dipper

Remember that a little goes a long way. Especially when dinner is waiting.

The Axis Kiss

Dash of amaretto almond liqueur
Dash of crème de cassis
Chilled Champagne

Pour the amaretto and crème de cassis into a champagne flute.

Gently top with champagne.

Blushing Bride

1 oz. peach schnapps
1 oz. grenadine
4 oz. Champagne

Pour the peach schnapps and grenadine into a champagne flute. Top with champagne.

Champagne Cosmopolitan

2 pieces fresh pineapple
1/2 oz. Cointreau
1/2 oz. vodka
1 oz. pineapple juice
3 oz. Champagne
Maraschino cherry for garnish

Muddle pineapple pieces and Cointreau in bottom of a mixing glass. Add vodka and pineapple juice. Stir and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Top with champagne. Garnish with maraschino cherry.

French Kiss

3/4 oz. Chambord
3/4 oz. peach schnapps
3/4 oz. vodka
splash orange juice
splash pineapple juice
splash cranberry juice

Serve straight up in a martini glass.

Naked Lady

1 oz. white rum
1 oz. sweet vermouth
2 dashes grenadine
4 dashes lemon juice
4 dashes apricot brandy

Shake well with cracked ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass.

Sex on the Beach

1 oz. vodka
3 oz. cranberry juice
3 oz. orange or pineapple juice
1 oz. peach schnapps

Pour into iced highball glass and stir.

Skinny Dipper

2 oz. melon liqueur
6 oz. cranberry juice

Serve over ice in a tall glass.

Eat, Drink ... Love

by Margaret Tearman

I held my nose, I closed my eyes, I took a drink

I didn’t know if it was day or night

I started kissin’ everything in sight

But when I kissed a cop down on Thirty-Fourth and Vine

He broke my little bottle of Love Potion Number Nine.

Ah, romance is in the air. And on our palettes.

Strawberries, champagne, oysters, chocolate and … more chocolate.

Food and drink with sumptuous tastes, velvety textures and intoxicating smells, all tools of seduction otherwise known as aphrodisiacs.

Love Food

The candles are lit and Barry White is singing his heart out. You and your love finger-dip succulent pieces of lobster in melted butter, exchanging flirtatious smiles. It looks sexy, smells sexy and tastes sexy. You’re in the mood for love, and not just because of the intimate setting. Throughout history, food has been used as an aphrodisiac. Serve the right appetizer, and the night is young.

In early Greek and Roman societies, where sex was one of life’s fundamental practical matters, aphrodisiacs were sought to remedy sexual anxieties and to stimulate fertility. These ancients suggested you steer clear of dill, lentil, lettuce, watercress, rue and water lily; Consuming them would blunt the libido and decrease fertility. Their list of love potions included anise, basil, carrot, salvia, gladiolus root, orchid bulbs, pistachio nuts, arugula, sage, sea fennel, turnips — and river snails.

The aphrodisiac power of oysters is rooted in mythology. Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, rose from the sea on an oyster and gave birth to Eros. Later, the Goddess of Love was said to consider sparrows sacred because of their amorous nature. The little birds were included in various aphrodisiac brews.

Today you won’t need to set traps at the birdfeeder or wade into icy streams to pluck river snails. Ingredients for a loving Valentine’s dinner are probably sitting in your pantry or on the shelves of your market. Their effectiveness may not be all myth. Modern research shows that some aphrodisiacs contain vitamins and minerals that contribute to a healthy reproductive system, if not a healthy libido.

As you plan your romantic feast, you might want to add one — or more — of these classic aphrodisiacs to the menu.

Avocado The vitamin B6 contained in the avocado is believed to increase male hormone production. The avocado also contains potassium, which aids in regulating the female thyroid gland. The Aztecs called the avocado tree a testicle tree because they thought the fruit hanging in pairs looked like male testicles.

Asparagus - This spring favorite contains vitamin E, believed to stimulate hormones, contributing to a healthy sex life and increased sexual powers.

Bananas - One of the most popular of all aphrodisiacs — and not just because of their shape. They contain potassium and B vitamins essential for sex hormone production.

Chili peppers - Capsaicin, the chemical that puts the heat in chili peppers, also stimulates our nerve endings and raises our pulse. Chilies are believed to release endorphins, which give our bodies a natural high. So nachos topped with sliced jalapenos can be romantic.

Chocolate - The tried-and-true symbol of Valentine’s Day contains phenyl ethylamine, a stimulant that gives a sense of well-being and excitement similar to the natural high of endorphins. An added health benefit: It is believed that dark chocolate is a rich source of cancer-fighting antioxidants. Double the benefit with a glass of red wine. Very romantic.

Ginger - Ginger is a circulatory-system stimulant that can increase sexual powers and desire. It is often served raw with sushi or added to stir-fry dishes. Release the beast and share a gourmet chocolate bar with added pieces of crystallized ginger.

Raspberries and Strawberries - These are perfect aphrodisiac foods to hand-feed your partner. The red fruit — the color associated with love and passion — are high in vitamin C.

Raw Oysters - Oysters are a rich source of zinc, a mineral required for testosterone production. This male hormone is believed to increase the female libido as well. These sexy mollusks are also high in protein and very nutritious.

Even if your idea of a romantic date is dinner and a movie, you might be in luck. The Smell and Taste Foundation of Chicago reports that even the smells of certain food have been found to be sexually arousing. Buttered popcorn scores high for men, as does licorice for women.

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