Valentine Day Treats and a Tasty Culinary Tour

Valentine's Day provides yet another Hallmark opportunity to celebrate. Yonatan Sternberg explores how wine and bubblies can add a bit of meaning to this holiday.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it is a good idea to start thinking about which wine you plan on serving and how you plan to celebrate this romantic evening. Should you go out to a restaurant or stay at home for dinner? Should you serve pink-rose Champagne? Which, in my opinion, is the quintessential, both romantic and celebratory wine. Pairing wine with chocolate is another good option. If you decide to go down this route, pick up a nice bottle of Port from the Douro Valley in Portugal. Dessert wines, fruit based wines, rich creamy liquors and sparkling wines … there are quite a few alcoholic beverage options to make this romantic holiday a very special night.

If you really feel like going all out, pick up a bottle of Rose Champagne; Lanson, Moet & Chandon, Krug, Veuve Clicquot, Ayala and Pommery are some of the more popular labels available in Israel. Imported by leading importers The Scottish Company, Hakerem, FIW and others these bottles may set you back a few shekels but, then again, there is nothing like drinking real Champagne. In honor of Valentine's Day Veuve Clicquot will be offering romantic and very well deigned Champagne "picnic baskets" which include two narrow flute glasses and a bottle of Champagne (starting at NIS 580).

While I personally prefer to stay home on Valentine's Day, many restaurants across the country will be cooking up special dishes and offering tempting dinner menus. Messa, Joya, Maraboo, Kimmel, Dalal, Turquoise, Cramim, Pushkin, Rothschild's Kitchen, Liliot Bistro & Bakery all have specials worth looking into. Jerusalem's Lara will be preparing am interesting dessert based on a cream of halva mille-feuille with nougatine and berries (NIS 20).
If you decide to stay at home and prepare a romantic dinner, try serving at least a couple of different wines with the meal, preferably one white or sparkling wine, one red wine and one dessert wine. Binyamina recently released a very refreshing semidry white as part of the winery's Yogev label – a blend of French Colombard, Gewürztraminer and Muscat, light straw with golden reflections and plenty of sweet fruit and floral aromas the wine would go well with light starters, fresh ceviche or simply as an aperitif (NIS 50).

If you are looking to treat your loved one to a culinary day out, call up Jerusalem's 1868 and inquire about their new monthly culinary tour program (currently held only in Hebrew). Once a month, 1868's head chef Yankale Turjeman invites a limited number of foodies to join him on an indulging culinary tour. Participants meet up at the Tzora winery for a guided wine tasting session with Tzora's staff. From there you drive out to the Teko'a Mushroom Farm for a fascinating tour and introduction to the world of mushroom growing. Last stop for the day is naturally the 1868 restaurant. There you will receive a quick lesson on meat cutting and preparations from the staff of Mahne Yehooda's leading butcher shop, Rafael Butchery, followed by a tasting of six tasty mini dishes. We started off with Tekoa's mushroom soup, then on to a very refreshing ceviche with citrus and coriander, gnocchi in mushroom sauce, seared salmon with a chickpea and pickled lemon stew, small pieces of beef in thick stock sauce and a pink lady apple mille-feuille for dessert (NIS 250). For information about 1868's next tour call: 02-6222312.

Happy Valentine's Day!