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Valentine’s Day Food Of Love

Audio

Aired 2/7/11

Our Food hour is devoted to Romance. We talk about the foods, meals, sweets and treats that can make your Valentine's Day one to remember.

Our Food hour is devoted to Romance. We talk about the foods, meals, sweets and treats that can make your Valentine's Day one to remember.

Guests: Caron Golden, food writer of the column "Local Bounty" for San Diego Magazine and author of the blog San Diego Foodstuff.

Chef Bernard Guillas is executive chef of the Marine Room in La Jolla.

Beatriz Ledezma - founder of Caxao Gourmet Chocolates.

Read Transcript

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

With apologies to shake sheer, music really isn't the food of love, food is. We're talking about romantic Valentines meals. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, coming up on These Days, from chocolate to champagne, Valentine's day offers the opportunities to feast with our sweet hearts. Sensuous foods and romantic atmospheres, decadent treats and luscious delicacies all add to making your volen tine feel pampered and cherished. This morning, we'll be talking about the food of love, and be taking your calls on your most romantic meal of that's ahead on These Days. First the news.

I'm Maureen Cavanaugh and You're listening to These Days on KPBS there's a big food and gift weekend coming up, and if you have to ask what, you've got some preparing to do. Valentine's day is a week from today. It's a holiday that celebrates love, most especially romantic love. And I know my guests would agree there are few things that stimulate officer more effectively than delicious, beautiful food, wine, and sweets. I'd like to welcome Karen Golden, food writer of the column local bounty for San Diego magazine, and author of the blog San Diego food stuff. Karen, good morning.

GOLDEN: Good morning, Maureen.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Chef Bernard Guillas is executive chef of the Marine room in La Jolla. Welcome back, Chef Bernard.

GUILLAS: Pleasure to be here.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Beatriz Ledezma is founder of Caxao gourmet chocolates. Beatriz, good morning.

LEDEZMA: Thank you so much, good morning.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, you'll be able to pick up a lot of tips on romantic dinners and food choices, and great Valentine's Day treats all this hour on These Days. But we're also asking you to take -- to get your suggestions, call us with your questions and also call us with your stories about your most romantic meal. Our number is 1-888-895-5727. That's 1-888-895-KPBS. Now, we all have in our minds, I guess, millions of what a romantic dinner looks like. And I want to maybe start out with making a composite picture of what that looks like for us. Let me start with you, Chef Bernard. What does that look like in.

GUILLAS: Well, for me, it'd look like this, okay? You need to have some chocolate of course, but before the chocolate, you need some champagne, you need some different essence, as soon as you're coming into the house. So I would say candles and spices and it has to be the mood, you know? But there's something I never understood. Why only one day for voltine's day? What's the deal with that? It should be every day. Love should be every day. So it's gotta be fun, it's gotta be really exciting and bring all those elements that we were talking about during the show.

THE COURT: And what is it it look like for you Karen?

GOLDEN: Finger food. You know, food is so wonderful and it's so -- it can be so sensual. So things that you can eat with your hands, share with your loved ones, I think lobster is wonderful, not everyone thinks of that as a finger food, but the way I was raised it was a finger food.

GUILLAS: Uh-huh.

GOLDEN: Lobsters, I love oysters on the half shell, I love them raw, I love the slurp, I love all the flavors that you can add to it. I love all the kinds of deserts, I mean we focus on chocolate a lot, but there are so many wonderful things that you can do with texture, meringues and different kinds of whole fruit preserves that add all sorts of different lovely the textures that you get a lovely mouth feel for. So yeah, all sorts of wonderful things.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: This is sounding very good so far. Of course we have the chilled wine glasses and you have the beautiful candles? What else? What else makes a romantic dinner Beatriz?

LEDEZMA: For me it starts with the preparation. I think two people in love at the kitchen making a delicious meal, it's always so sensual. And you start from, you know, the choosing of the ingredients, tasting raw ingredients, and touching them. I think that's very sensuous. By the time you get to the table, if you get to the table.

GUILLAS: Yeah, if you get to the table. I like that.

GOLDEN: It reminds me of the book like water for chocolate, where everything that was prepared was prepared not just the way we tend to quickly make a meal, but it's so imbued with sort of the spirit of the food in there and how it -- if you make it with of, then people feel that when they eat it of.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Right.

GUILLAS: In [CHECK] this is a beautiful book named Aphroditus, and I read that book, and it's just amazing because it's not only about the ingredients. It's about the journey, it's about the moment. It's about -- it's special. And you really can jazz up just an incredible evening.

GOLDEN: Yeah, I think we're -- as Americans tend to be a hasteful society. We want to do things quickly, we don't have a lot of time. And we want to kind of plow through to get something on the table. And I think like any holiday, but I think particularly for Valentine's day, when you're doing something for loved ones, for, you know, romantic love, then it is time to really kind of absorb the spirit of the food that you're making and kind of put that out there for the meal itself. So that it's not just what's on the table. Of it's everything as Beatriz said, that came before, that led up to that.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I want to remind our listeners issue we are taking your calls about your most romantic meals or any questions you might have about how to prepare a fabulous Valentine's day dinner or breakfast or lunch. 1-888-895-5727. Is the number to call. I word though if you don't do what Beatriz was saying and actually make the meal with your sweet heart, I'm wondering how you prepare a beautiful Valentine's day meal without wearing yourself out. Should you, chef Bernard, do things that you're familiar with? Or should you try to expand a little on Valentine's day?

GUILLAS: I feel that the Italians are the ones who really figure it out. Because they have the best raw ingredients of so they have very little cooking to do. As an example, you want some very beautiful prosciutto, it's so incredible with some boratta, they just know how to do it. I feel that you have to really look for a raw ingredient, an easy ingredient that you can really put together. But we're talking always about dinner and lunch, and what about a picnic? You go to Cuyamaca Lake, and your picnic just right on the shores issue or you go to the beach, or you go to Balboa park it's so really cool. Because in your picnic basket, you can pretty much put anything you want so you can have injure bubbles and you can have your sandwiches, and it has to be food that travels well. That's what you have to remember as well. So it doesn't have to be a hot food. It can be just --

GOLDEN: Roast chicken is great for that.

GUILLAS: Exactly.

GOLDEN: And it's easy to eat with your hands again. And in fact, we have -- if you're not going to cook, there are some interesting things that you can find, for instance, Saffron is doing a romantic picnic basket. Su-Mei Yu has got this $40 basket where she's going to have it filled with almonds a mean feast of her roast chicken which is just so delicious, red and white rice, salad rolls, the wonderful, like, shrimp filled rolls, or actually in her case, this one will be either chicken or to few with all her dipping sauces and chicken salad and strawberries with chocolate honey and Chile dipping sauces. I mean, boy, you could just do that, and then save yourests for other things.

GUILLAS: There is one cool thing that you can do, you can go to a farmeria market, and when you go to the farmer's market, you got everything there already. So you and your lover stroll around, get some flowers and get some cheeses and get some veggies and some fruit and nuts and all that stuff that we have, and they havolives and beautiful pitch ashios and cashues. So you can make your own basket, and then from there --

GOLDEN: And you could even buy the basket there.

GUILLAS: Yeah, and don't tell your lover where you're going so it become ace surprise.

GOLDEN: Yeah.

GUILLAS: And it really becomes a very, very special day.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I want to take a call.

GOLDEN: And you can buy chocolates from Beatriz.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: 1-888-895-5727. Lisa's on the line from La Jolla. Good morning, Lisa, welcome to These Days.

NEW SPEAKER: Good morning. I 50 wanted to start with a comment, then I have a question. My favorite, I just got a romantic dinner, was in a hotel with my husband, and we had champagne and French fries brought up from room service of it was perfect. It's the perfect food pairing, and we didn't end up even going down for dinner. So really it was a great dinner. But my question was -- for you, I was gonna do a large dinner party for eight this coming Saturday, and I was gonna originally do duck confit, doing very, very elegant, my friends are very food oriented, and I thought I would change it because one couple doesn't do duck. And I thought you guys might have a suggestion for a nice elegant entree.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Oh.

GUILLAS: Well, if one of your friends doesn't like duck, and the other ones like duck, what you could do is you could take a chicken leg, and you can confit it exactly the same way, but you use exactly the same recipe, but in a different dish. But that would be a really good way to do it, or if you like pork and you want to really -- confit some pork, it would be just fantastic U. A lot of flavor, really a lot of fun. And everybody can share the love.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Any other suggestions, Karen?

GOLDEN: Well, I'm curious if they don't eat duck or they are vegetarian.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Lisa are they vegetarians?

NEW SPEAKER: Oh. Of hello?

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Yeah, hi.

NEW SPEAKER: Yeah, they keep -- I think they keep foul, so they just choose not to eat duck. But they're not vegetarians of they eat other meat.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I see. Okay. Well, how about that?

GOLDEN: I think Bernard's -- I think confit anything is probably the most wonderful and lovely treat. Because it's, you know, it does take some time. And so that really is an extravagance that I think your divests would appreciate. Just, you know, like Bernard said, maybe you want to use chicken legs for the confit to replace the duck.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Can you give us confit 101 for people who are not familiar?

GOLDEN: Let Bernard do this.

GUILLAS: Once upon a time. No, I'm just kidding. So what you have to do is you have to cure the leg of the duck, and you cure it usually with the best is to use rock salt. 'Cause otherwise the salt gets into the flesh way too quickly. Then you use some aromatics such as a bit of garlic and time, I use some shallots as well, and it has to be cured for about 24 hours, and after that, it is cooked at about 200 degrees, in usual he duck fat. But you can use it in extra virgin olive oil. As long as you don't go too high, you will have no problem. And it takes a long time. And when you're done, the meat will fall off the bone. How sexy is that? Oh, my God. And you can add a bit of celery root, for example, so you can use that, and carrots, so then when you strain everything, you can use those vegetables as garnishes. I have done it for example where I would duck confit, and I serve it with a risotto, and I use these vegetables that I'm blending at the last minute, with a bit of extra virgin olive oil infused with truffles.

GOLDEN: And you could do a celery root pure a which would be like mashed potato too, which is the lightest most interesting flavor, it's just imbued with the celery, but not as hash as when you take a bite out of celery. Of the ugliest root you've ever seen, but when you peel the exterior away and boil it up with some potatoes in milk and strain it and pure a the potatoes issue add some cream or butter or whatever, add some of the milk back in, and whatever other garlic or whatever else you want to flavor it with, and oh, it's light, it's fluffy, and it's really nice, you know, with a confit.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I want to take another call before we have to take a break. 1-888-895-5727 is the number to call. Todd is calling us from Encinitas. Good morning, Todd, welcome to These Days.

NEW SPEAKER: Hello. Hello. Good morning.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Good morning.

NEW SPEAKER: What a beautiful day here in San Diego huh?

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Yes indeed, it is.

NEW SPEAKER: So what I did was, my grandma actually taught me this, this was kind of like a seafood marinara, I guess. You could say. And we put mussels and lobster and all sorts of seafood in this marinara sauce. Of and granted it wasn't the cleanest or the prettiest. But I cooked that all day, and in addition to that, I used, like a whole -- a grain noodle. Not just a white pasta noodle, but actually a whole grain noodle, and then I made truffles from scratch as well. And I got a little bit of help from my brother who was a great chef. That was my awesome awesome meal, but I'm no longer with her. So it brings up some sad memories. Buoy that's what I did, and it was awesome.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Well, I'm sorry to hear that, but thank you for sharing your romantic dinner with us. At least there was that one great moment.

GOLDEN: Cioppino is another -- this is a great time of year to make something like a cioppino which is sort of what he was describing. And I like to do it with roasted tomatoes, I'll roast tomato, then I'll make a soup out of that, the little base. And then add all sorts of seafood and shell fish, good thick fish maybe like halibut for white fish. Get some really great sour dough bread for dunking 'cause you're gonna want to dunk. And that is a great meal. It's a fairly easy meal to make, you just need to make sure that you've got really fresh seafood, and don't over cook the seafood.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We have to take a break, when we return, we will continue to talk about romantic Valentine's meals, continue to ask you to share with us your favorite, your most romantic meal, and Beatriz, we are taking chocolate. All right. So stay with us, you're listening to These Days on KPBS.

I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, You're listening to These Days on KPBS. Today is a week from Valentine's day. We're talking about romantic Valentine's day meals, treats, and sweets. Wine, delicious, beautiful food if are your suite heart on Valentine's day. My guests are Karen Golden, Chef Bernard Guillas, and Beatriz Ledezma. And we are taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. Specifically asking you, well, of course if you have any questions for this great panel, but to share your most romantic meal with us. We'd love to hear about it. And I said I'll gonna be talking about chocolate, and indeed I am, Beatriz, you spend your days making chocolate. You have cock saw gourmet chocolates, and who better to ask about what makes chocolate so seductive?

LEDEZMA: Well, I think chocolate in -- for anyone is -- it's a food that we associate with love, with pleasure, and it brings to anyone, almost anyone, sweet memories from childhood through whole life. And there are very few people who don't like chocolate. And the reason they don't like chocolate is probably they have allergies. But pretty much everyone loves chocolate.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You say that chocolate has magic and power.

LEDEZMA: It does, it does. Upon I think in my personal belief, it has to do a lot with the fact that chocolate, it's a gift that we receive from the Gods. And that, if you believe in that concept, and that idea, you can see -- you can understand that chocolate has this power that we happen to share with the divine by eating it, by giving it to another person issue we are sharing not only a divine food, but we are sharing also a love.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Right. Now, you know, Karen, we've talked about chocolate before on this show, and it's getting -- if it can, even more divine because so many chocolate makers like Beatriz are making specialty chocolates now. What is the difference between getting a box of chocolates just in sort of, like, in a supermarket, and maybe presenting your Valentine with some specialty chocolates?

GOLDEN: Well, are the difference is the quality of the chocolates. I mean, a lot of the commercial chocolates you'll find for sale at the Werther's and all those different Whitman's box. I'm not gonna even put See's in there. See's holds a special little place for most people's hearts, and I'm not gonna go to See's, because I think See's is absolutely wonderful.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And I know people who love their Whitman chocolates.

GOLDEN: Yes. But when you take a bite out of something that Beatriz has made or something out of eclipse chocolate, or something from which I wow, we've got over half a dozen specialty chocolatiers in town. And even does something different. They all are using different chocolate, we've talked to Karen Krasne from [CHECK] others use doll man, there are a number of them. All of these chocolates come from different parts of the world around the equator. So like wines, they all have very different flavors and textures that come out of that depending on the time of year, depending on the year itself. You'll get crops that have one flavor versus another. But basically, what you're getting is a lot of different kinds of flavors. And then they take it to another level with how they blend these chocolates with other kinds of ingredients and you get some really stunning results that you can't get when you're talking about mass, you know --

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Mass produced.

GOLDEN: Mass production.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm wondering, Chef Bernard, how do you use chocolates in a [CHECK] do you place them front, back?

GUILLAS: This is a loaded question. When it comes to chocolate, chocolate contains a chemical that really affects the neurotransmitters in the brain, and relates to caffeine, called theobromine, so it really gets you in the mood. Of when it comes to chocolate, this is my recommendation, you can buy all the chocolate at those wonderful places. But you really want to touch somebody's heart? It you can buy the raw ingredient and then make it a journey, means that you melt your chocolate, and you make chocolate bark, for example, which is you melt the chocolate, and you add some cocoa nips, a little crunch. Of and what about some sun dried blue berries and some other nuts? And it really makes it very, very special of so that's one thing that you can do. But in my kitchens, we do the chocolate truffles, and I finish my chocolate truffles, because I'm crazy enough, with absent, absent some like that liqueur that just takes you to the other level. Ooh Louisiana N. And I also use my dark chocolate when it comes to finish some of my sauces, which is really cool because you can do the moles from Mexico which are also unbelievable. [CHECK] wild boar and dear and game in one word, and we finish the reduction with a little bit of 85 percent cocoa, chocolate. So what I like about chocolate and what I'm looking for all the time is I want versatability of the chocolate, but at the same time, I need to be able to get a glass of red wine with it. So this is why when it comes to what pairing, I would say, I need to have the 72 percent plus. And actually, it would be great if you could tell us what is the difference between the 65, 75, 85, what is all those numbers that you look on the chocolate bar and you -- you just don't really know what it is.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Beatriz, can you tell us that in a sort of a short explanation.

LEDEZMA: That's the percentage of the cocoa that you'll find in the chocolate.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And what difference does that make in the taste.

LEDEZMA: Well, it will affect the silkiness, how soft it is, how bitter or how tart it is. The higher the percentage of cocoa butter, it will melt easily in your mouth, in another touch. Because it has a higher butter than one that is -- has less. So that's pretty much what it tells you, the percent of cocoa butter.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And I'm interested in the pairing, the pairing of chocolates with especially wines and liqueurs. You were saying that you recently paired your chocolates with mezcal; is that right? Tell us about that.

LEDEZMA: Well, issue I -- last week, I travelled to Mexico City to do a mezcal chocolates pairing. And I designed six chocolates for this particular company.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You designed six chocolates. I love that. Tell us about at least one of them. What kind of designer chocolates of was it?

LEDEZMA: Well, there was this white mescal, it's called joven tobala. And it has a very distinct flavors and notes of smoke on it. And what I thought about it, it was a blend to put together with a blend of 75 percent -- 72 percent shell outside on the bonbon that I create, and the inside it was a 75. Both chocolates from different areas. The shell, the 72 percent of the chocolate from Venezuela, and the 75 inside for the ganache, it was a single region from Ecuador. Then I add tamarind pulp, and in the north region of Mexico, particularly in the state of Sonora, we use this round Chile called chiltepin, it's very, very strong. It has a very nice smoke flavor on it, so I did an infusion with the chiltepin, and then I blend it with the -- I'm sorry with the tamarind pulp. And then I finish the piece with warm salt, which is the salt that we use traditionally to drink mescal. So it took by surprise the guests that went to the pairing.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I don't doubt that. Yes. This is the type of chocolate, Karen, you don't over eat.

GOLDEN: Oh, no. No. And you know what? This is one of those things we've talked about this before, you have a fine chocolate, you just need a couple of bites. That should sate you. So you don't need to go and get a whole bag of M&Ms, you know, the equivalent of M&Ms to fill you up with chocolate. These chocolates, they're rich, they're very distinctive flavors, and a couple or 2, 3, that's it. Of that's all you need.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Yeah, yeah.

LEDEZMA: And I'm sorry to interrupt. And the other thing, particularly in a piece like the one I just described, it's a piece that it was designed to go with a mescal. It's not intended to be eaten by themselves.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Certainly.

LEDEZMA: Because then, probably, it will -- for some palates it won't be that pleasant.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Interesting. Yes. Chef Bernard?

GUILLAS: You know what's interesting, we're talking about chocolate, and all the countries [CHECK] [CHECK] who produce chocolate have a problem politically or are in unrest, it's always something going on. So this is why one thing that I like to do in my restaurants is we use free trade chocolate, so they're coming from origin they're really for the people, it means that all that chocolate and all that cacao that is brown, all that money goes to the farmer, it doesn't go to the middle man or whom ever, where it gets lost in translation. So that's very important as well.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Another way to show the love right?

GUILLAS: Yes. But there is another thing that I love with chocolate which everybody can do at home. You melt your chocolate and get some sea salt, but get some really -- [CHECK] that's not gonna melt, and you put a little bit of sea salt on top, and cayenne pepper which is Chile on top, [CHECK] now if you take that bar which is maybe half an inch thick, and you take if you like, another -- such as, let's say figs, and you pure a, and you put it right in the middle, and you make like a sandwich, and you cut it. It's so cool. Because it really becomes a journey. Now the other thing is, chocolate is incredible, for example, with goat cheese. You're gonna go what? Goat cheese, chocolate and what about a little Balsamic syrup? Yummy. That's really, really good. And now you have gone from sweet to savory. So you're able to have a lot of fun with it.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We have to take some calls. We're taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. Bill is on the line from university heights. Good morning, bill, and welcome to These Days.

NEW SPEAKER: Hey there.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Hey. Of.

NEW SPEAKER: Thanks for taking my call.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You're welcome.

NEW SPEAKER: I gotta go the other direction because, well, chocolate season can be any time. Red wine, red roses, it's not rose season. It's certainly not fig season. I say it's dungeness crab season. And a big fat Chardonnay to go with it.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Is that your most romantic meal, bill?

NEW SPEAKER: We do it every year. We've been doing it maybe 20. Keep the dungeness simple. The and a good white Burgundy with minerality. Think how much more affordable a super good white burgundy is, over a super good grand crew red Burgundy.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Well, you've got a point there, and thank you for sharing that with us.

GUILLAS: Yeah, I wanted to add that you can find these beautiful crabs at the [CHECK] ranch market, live in the tanks, and they're not expensive. And right by that tank, you have gorgeous three pounders live lobsters swimming there, saying me, me, me, me! Now. Just gorgeous.

GOLDEN: I was just there Saturday, I think, they're celebrating Chinese new year. Of and this is wonderful. It's sort of a perfect convergence when you're talking great seafood, for instance, and Valentine's day because Asian cultures are all celebrating the new year. So they have a to know of wonderful bounty in terms of seafood. And 99 ranch was just packed with all sorts of gorgeous crabs and lobsters and fresh fish. What he didn't mention and Bernard hasn't mentioned yet, and I think is just the sexiest fish alive, is black cod.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Well, why so?

GOLDEN: It is just -- it's an oily fish, and it's very forgiving of you can do all sorts of preparation with it, and it is the most soft and satiny flesh. It is just -- it's stunning of you can make a miso marinade for it and broil it. Upon you can do all sorts of -- you can just pan fry it, and that flesh is still gonna be this gorgeous texture that's gonna melt in your mouth. Unlike a lot of other fish.

GUILLAS: It is really versatile. That's very true. And what's great about it is in the heat of the moment, no pun intends, you can over cook your fish. And with that fish you do not have to worry about it. And there is one thing we talk about, what about the filet minion? Everybody love that beautiful beef. So grant's farm, which is two hours from here in Brawley, just has the most exquisite beef. And you can find that beef --

GOLDEN: At the farmer's market.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: In Hillcrest at the farmer's market. That's another one that's really easy to prepare. The residence pee for the best Valentine's is to make sure that you prepare it yourself in advance. Buy your flowers in advance issue buy your champagne in advance, make sure it's cold. Don't do it last minute of get all your ingredients, and just get the mood going, and then it will be just fantastic. But if you're stressed out, what will happen is everyone gets stressed out.

GOLDEN: Yeah, which goes to what I -- and I don't know if Bernard agrees with this, but my feeling is, and we've talked about this before, only pick a couple things to make yourself. And buy other prepared foods. For something like this, be you don't want to be so exhausted by the time you sit down that you can't enjoy yourself, and your partner won't enjoy it either.

GUILLAS: Otherwise, you're gonna need to eat a lot of oysters and a lot of chocolate throughout the night.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We're taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. Let's try to squeeze in a call before the break. Eileen is calling us from La Jolla. Good morning, Eileen, welcome to These Days.

NEW SPEAKER: Thank you. I was wondering if you had suggestion for vegetarians of we're a growing percentage of the population. And your meals so far have all been meat based. For vegetarians who do accept dairy, not vegans but vegetarians, what do you suggest?

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Got it. Romantic vegetarian Valentine's day. Do we have an idea about that? I would imagine not for vegan, she said, so I would imagine cheese might have something to do with that.

GUILLAS: Well, I would go -- I would look at the best protein when it comes to vegetarians, for example, you can make a beautiful, sexy Quinoa salad. Light, pink grapefruit, [CHECK] and then you go egg plant, just grill some egg plant, some beautiful choose with that.

GOLDEN: Souffle.

GUILLAS: Chocolate souffle.

GOLDEN: No, I make a great egg plant sue Fay.

GUILLAS: Egg plan souffle. Oh, cool.

GOLDEN: There are a lot of wonderful, savory souffles that you can make, along with fabulous desert souffles. But they aren't nearly as hard or as intimidating as people would think. And you know issue I've been making this eggplant souffle since I was about 20 of it's from the vegetarian epicure cook book from 1970 whatever. It is absolutely foolproof, it is luscious and really creamy and marvelous, and it's basically egg plant in a lot of parmesan reggiano.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That sounds great. You know, I think --

GUILLAS: And something really sexy and we do it at the Marine room every day, you make your own to few. And if you make your own to few, you prepare it in advance, I gotta tell you, your lover is gonna be so surprised. You made it yourself? And it's just amazing. And what's great about to few, and everybody goes, oh, to few, not that much taste 678 you can do so many things. You can put your to few in ooh long tea, for example, and it will be lightly smoky. [CHECK] your favorite, like a barbecue sauce, a lot bit of nuts on top, and bake it in the oven. And you can do so many things of and for desert, what I did, I put the cream with silk to few, and you put the chocolate, and it's amazing. [CHECK].

GOLDEN: And you can seer so few the way you would, like foie gras, so that it's really night and crusty on the outside, and then really silky smooth inside with a wonderful sauce. It could be lovely.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We have to take a break. But I just want to mention, I think Chef Bernard did a first here. He mentioned quinoa and sexy in the same sentence.

GUILLAS: But of course!

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We are taking your calls and talking about Valentine's meals, why are favorite romantic dinners of give us a call at 1-888-895-5727. And we will be back in just a moment here on KPBS.

I'm Maureen Cavanaugh issue You're listening to These Days on KPBS, and we're talking Valentine's day. Wonderful meals to make, foods to get, wines and sweets for Valentine's Day. My guests are Karen golden, Beatriz Ledezma, and Chef Bernard. And we are taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. There are some topics that I'd like to go through somewhat quickly because I think they're important for people. Not everybody can spend a dinner together, a Valentine's day dinner. Any idea if maybe breakfast is the only time you'll be together, that great romantic breakfasts, Karen?

GOLDEN: French toast with fresh raspberry pure a. So good, so good. I like to use either hallah, any kind of yellow bread, egg bread is wonderful. It makes it really nice and rich and dense. Or if you're not gonna make just French toast separately, you can make a French toast casserole. Which makes it very easy 'cause then you don't have to hover. And you get nice -- it's almost souffle like, it gets nice and puffy in there. Razz Perry pew ray, or strawberry pew ray, very easy to make. Don't want crush the strawberries or the other fruit in the food processor, you won't get the rice texture, you want to mash it, and you add some sugar, brown sugar, maybe a little Cointreau, if you're [CHECK] some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. I think you're good to go with that.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Chef?

GUILLAS: We do a nice waffle using really those ingredients that maybe will make you not go to work that morning. So I would put some anise seeds in it, I would put some cocoa nips, I would top with banana, almonds all those aphrodisiacs, maybe a little sugared nutmeg, pineapple, just a little pineapple as well, and vanilla syrup. And that would be it for me. Maybe a little bit of whipped cream, but if the whipped cream comes into play, I'm not going into work for sure.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay. So it all depends if you want to go into work or not.

GOLDEN: Well, we're talking -- you're a chef, you're gonna work over the week. And the rest of us, you know.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: There is another aspect to Valentine's day. Kids love Valentine's day. They love to be a part of it. They love to get little Valentine's treats. Any suggestions to get your children into the act of maybe Valentine's day in the kitchen? Chef Bernard?

GUILLAS: Well, I would do is definitely go to -- take the kids to the market at morning. And then I would not do breakfast. But I would do a brunch. And really have the kids involved in the making of the lunch. And for example, right now, we have no strawberries available. But what you can get is some goose berries. And if you dip those in chocolate, you have the tart of the goose berry, and then you have the 65 percent chocolate, for example. But they will be part of the making and also make quiche, things that kids love to do. One is taking care of -- putting the little crust in the pan, the other one is getting all the vegetables together, the other one is making the mix of the egg and the crème fraiche, the salt, the pepper. But what is cool is this. You take it out of the oven issue and then you put it on the table, and everybody is excited, and you make cocktails for everyone. Y so you can have a nice little champagne come together for mom and dad. And do some, of course, nonalcoholic cocktails for the kids. So they're part of the celebration. They need to be part of the celebration. I think it's the most -- it's essential, because a family is somehow, we get all disjointed because so much is going on in our lives of so this is a special day where you want to keep everyone and embrace that family.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And you know, Beatriz, the chocolate concoctions that you make, these wonderful delicacies, seem to be aimed toward an adult palette. But are there some things you've found in your years in working with chocolate that really, really kids just love about chocolate? Is it basically if it -- do they like all this stuff in it or do they like it plain.

LEDEZMA: I think when it comes to fine chocolate, we tend to under estimate kids.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Ah.

LEDEZMA: I'm lucky enough to have very young clients that will come on a weekly basis to buy my chocolates. I try to make -- I try to make my confections as delicious as beautiful, so to the eyes. And I'm oven thinking what could be appealing to kids. I recently started working with the mini apples.

GOLDEN: Those are so good. I've had them.

LEDEZMA: And I dip them in a fine dark chocolate, 75 percent. And I put colorful sprinkles on it. But I also cocoa nips, I add peanuts, I add almonds. And I also add caramelized sesame seeds. Soap those are different textures and flavors. And the size of the apple is just enough for a young kid. And they love it. 'Cause they are so surprised of the size, they tend to see, you know, the normally the huge apples that a child, they don't finish. Of and also the chocolate bars that I do, they like the colors, they like the combinations. Of and some of the bonbons, like the rose petals and the lavender and honey, they just go for it.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And I want to ask you, where can people find this, Beatriz? Are your things available at farmer's markets?

LEDEZMA: Well, we are every Saturday we are at the farmer's market in little Italy, at the mercatto. You can also vs your website, with www.caxao.com. On the website, we have a list of the different partners that retail our line of chocolates.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I see. Okay. And Karen, for people who say cooking on Valentine's day? Not gonna happen. Are there some places that are offering special Valentine's day meals.

GOLDEN: Almost everybody.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Everywhere.

GOLDEN: Okay. And we know -- I'm sure Bernard are you going to be --

GUILLAS: Oh, I sure --

GOLDEN: Doing something at the Marine room?

GUILLAS: Oh, are you kidding? I share the love big time. We have a menu that we have at the Marine room for that night on Monday, but also at the shores, which is a completely different menu. Of but it's true, everybody is doing something. Of so just get out and --

GOLDEN: But it's interesting because it's at different level, you've got from the Marine room at la Valencia, are and Mr. A's in Mel Fleur, you've got those kinds of very fancy dinners, but some of your local favorites will too. And some of the neighborhood restaurants so Alchemy for instance is doing something called sky earth ocean and atmosphere. So they're dividing their three course dinner into dishes that are influenced by the elements.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Ah.

GOLDEN: Eclipse chocolate, which has been making chocolate over in university heights, has been doing these different chocolate themed dinners, and they're going to have a small plate Valentine's dinner. Opera cafe, people don't realize that in Sorrento Valley in an office park is some of the best French cooking around. I'm sure you know the guys over there too.

GUILLAS: Yep.

GOLDEN: Terry Caiz.

GUILLAS: Yep.

GOLDEN: And there's some brunches. There's a sweet heart Sunday brunch at extraordinary deserts in little Italy. Oh, sea rocket bistro. Little neighborhood place in south park is going to have a Valentine's weekend prefixed tapas menu for two. Then there are the anti-Valentine's day. And I think we have to address some of that. Not everybody has special feelings about Valentine's day. And some of the restaurants have picked up on this.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That guy who made the fish stew earlier.

GOLDEN: Exactly. Okay. My favorite one so far is proper gastro pub's, cupid's not welcome at this Valentine's day event. No red or pink, no roses, no heart shaped boxes of chocolate, no public displays of affection, and their cocktails include the screw you driver, the forget you, Flora Dora, and the raging bitch IPA. So it sounds like it could be a very bitter evening. But I'm hoping that they are doing this tongue in cheek. Far less aggressive is Sammy's wood fire pizza. They are doing a sort of Sammy's take home pizza kick. So you don't have to deal with all of the romantic couples at the restaurants, you can go to Sammy's and pick up homemade pizza dough, tomato sauce, mozzarella, and they suggest you go home and rent some chick flicks and call it a night, I guess.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Chef Bernard, isn't there a way to embrace your single friends in this day of love?

GUILLAS: Where's the love? Think about it, if there is no love, you should not be living on this planet. I mean, without the love, there is no other in, without energy, there is no life. So I feel that to have a party, if for example, you have a bunch of single friend, hey, have a party at the house no matter what. Just bring, like 8, 10 people, make sure that whatever you prepare is super easy to do. One thing that is super cool as the host, which is easy to do, it's not gonna cost that much but it's gonna make a big impact, do some really cool gift where is we're not gonna break the basic. For example, flavored oil, you can take some regular olive oil, infuse it with, like, I don't know, lemon grass and black pepper, and pepper corn and all those things. And that would be really, really cool. What about honey? We have not talked about honey yet.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What's wrong with us?

GUILLAS: Well, we are on NPR, so I'm not gonna go into honey too much, in details. But honey is so cool. What can you do? What if you spice the honey, then you put it into really cool sexy containers. And then it becomes a gift from you to your friends.

GOLDEN: Well, yeah, and I made some of these chocolate toffee cookies, and we talked earlier about chocolate and salt and what not. These are chocolate with, believe it or not, what do you call it? The little toffee bars, the heath bars.

GUILLAS: Yes.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Yes.

GOLDEN: Okay, so they're mixed in there with some walnuts, red walnuts from -- yes, they're just wonderful. Terra Bella farms. And I just picked up some of this wonderful fiery hot salt from Temecula olive oil company. They have the store in old town. It's Sonoma salt with African bird's eye peppers and Habanero, and olepo pepper, and I'm -- this is one of these great recipes you could make in advance, you make the cookie dough, wrap it up, put it in the freezer, when you're ready to make cookies, take them out, slice them up, before you put them in the oven, top them with this salt, and they bake, so you get that sweet and Carmely toffee flavor with the hot salt on top. It's nice.

GUILLAS: And when you get all these friends of yours coming to your house, make sure that you have the candles going, make sure that there is a mood. Because even if they are single, it makes it such an incredible impact. And don't forget, make sure that you have already selected your white wine, your red wine, your bubbles, your rosé, and do some really fun cocktails. Of.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Yes.

GUILLAS: A cocktail that I love, for example, is you take some strawberries, I know they're not in season right now, but get some strawberries from the store, the ones that look like the best, you just want the essence anyway, and you crush it with some sugar and should vanilla beans of that's it. You let it sit for about 2 or 3 hours, and it becomes a liquid. You use that liquid as a base for your champagne cocktail. It's really cool of or if you want to keep it simple, pomegranate.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We have to end it. I don't want to, but we have to. I want thank you all so much for giving us so many good ideas for Valentine's day. Karen golden, Chef Bernard, Beatriz Ledezma. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

GUILLAS: Share the love, everyone, this is San Diego.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: If you'd like to comment, KPBS.org/These Days. You've been listening to These Days on KPBS.

Comments

Avatar for user 'marvinduran'

marvinduran | February 8, 2011 at 11:45 p.m. ― 3 years, 7 months ago

Loved it!!!

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