Saturday, November 18, 2017
Restaurant News

Dining Planner: This Valentine's Day, have romantic foods come to you

RECOMMENDED READING


 

TAKEOUT DATE: STAY IN

 

Long before Cosmo was writing stories on sexy foods, author M.F.K. Fisher explored "the almost vascular connection between love and lobster pate, between eating and romance." Whether it's the placebo effect or something legitimately scientific, some foods are just dang seductive. But who wants to get all dressed up and go out on the second-busiest restaurant day of the year? You want food to come to you.

 

FIND YOUR LOBSTER

 

There's the lobster scene in Annie Hall, with Woody Allen contemplating dialing 911. Then there's the lobster scene in Flashdance with Jennifer Beals in the barely-there tuxedo playing footsie while dunking the snowy meat in clarified butter. Face it, lobster is about the most romantic food out there. (Oysters are too obvz — just watch that scene from Tom Jones. Gross.)

Dan Hall has been in the wholesale lobster business for the past 17 years. And for the past four he's been corralling live crustaceans at his seafood market/restaurant Lobster Haven (12807 W Hillsborough Ave., Tampa, (813) 855-2888). For Valentine's Day, you can eat in (eh, not the most romantic setting, six tables in the tiny dining room, but you get to wear a plastic bib), with twin lobster plates for about $40, but he's offering two Maine lobsters takeout, cooked or live for the same price, $29. They also make a mean chowda (yes, that's how they spell it), clam and lobster equally creamy, lush and studded with sweet seafood meat. Hall doesn't do UberEats. But Amazon Prime Now operates in Tampa Bay so they could be employed to courier crustaceans from a provider. In a similar vein, thelobsterguy.com is running a 10 percent sale for Valentine's Day with the coupon code LOVELOB. Order by 10 a.m. for next-day delivery, prices start at $16.99.

 

DOUGHY SWEETS

 

Datz, Dough and Roux, all owned by Suzanne and Roger Perry, were among the earliest adopters of UberEats and the full complement of food delivery services. Why? Because the couch. (Tangentially related: Anyone tracking the uptick in upholstery cleaner sales since we all started doing UberEats?) Specifically for Valentine's Day, Dough (2602 S MacDill Ave., Tampa, (813) 902-1979) is offering a series of 6-inch cakes. (That's a lot of cake for two people, but no one but you needs to know. Secrets keep couples close.) They are offered in Rainbow Funfetti (below), Lemon Coconut, Candy Bar and — here's the snazziest one — Strawberry Champagne (bottom right). Cakes are $25.

 

BRING ME TOFFEE

 

Thirty-five million heart-shaped boxes, 58 million pounds of chocolate. Valentine's week is heady with a waft of cocoa butter and pheromones. Lisa and Jim Schalk's Toffee to Go (3251 W Bay to Bay Blvd., Tampa, (813) 831-6247, toffeetogo.com) has been right up there with the best of our local chocolates since it opened in its first South Tampa location in 2004. They do just a few things, and they do them well: chocolate macadamia nut toffee, milk chocolate almond toffee and dark chocolate pecan toffee. A crisp and buttery center is enrobed in luscious chocolate and then rolled in nuts, the overall effect nearly irresistible. It lasts for several weeks (refrigerate, and keep the plastic bag squeezed shut). For Valentine's Day, they offer a lovely fuchsia box tied with a brown satin ribbon, ¼ pound for $12, ½ pound for $19, 1 pound for $29, 2 pounds for $49. They have arranged for couriers in the past and this year they are offering a special until Tuesday, 20 percent off your order, which you can pick up at the retail shop or order online and have it shipped (free shipping, and it's usually one day within Florida).

 

COOK FOR LOVE

 

Ingredient delivery services like HelloFresh and Blue Apron have made serious incursions in restaurants' profits this past year. Many of us pine for home-cooked meals but lack the skill sets to execute effectively. This Valentine's Day, wow your sig other with your mad talents. Plated is one that has consistently been lauded for its sophisticated marriage of flavors and textures. How about whipping up two plates of trout piccata with herbed orzo and sauteed green beans? Too fancy? Then how about saucy meatball sliders? Either way, end with the chili-dusted frozen hot chocolates and you're likely to get lucky. Right now, two servings for two nights is $30. plated.com.

 
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