Yet while planning the menu for that night, I still find it difficult to know just how to pitch it. Customers may expect heart-shaped meringue nests and something with passion fruit, but I can't help finding that all a bit too twee.
Better, I think, to serve a proper dish based perhaps on a traditional aphrodisiac for this, the sauciest of saint's days.
Oysters, in a sumptuously preparation such as this, are guaranteed to impress and to give a real sense of occasion to a Valentine's dinner.
1. Shuck the oysters, reserving all the juice. Pass the juice through a very fine sieve into a small saucepan. Add the vermouth to the pan and gently bring to a simmer over a low heat.
2. Meanwhile sear the scallops in the olive oil over high heat in a cast iron skillet until caramelised on both sides and just cooked, about three minutes.
3. Once the oyster liquid has reached a simmer, poach the oysters for 20 seconds only, remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm. Turn up the heat, add the truffle peelings and cream and reduce quickly to a sauce consistency. Season.
4. Place two scallops and four oysters per person in a small warmed soup bowl, pour sauce over and serve at once.
- Dr Chris Duckham is a GP in Tongue and Armadale, and runs the restaurant Cote du Nord, Farr Bay Inn, Sutherland
INGREDIENTS - For two people
Eight live oysters in the shell
Four king scallops, shucked and roes removed.
One small tin of truffle peelings (available from a good specialist
Three teaspoons Noilly Prat Vermouth
75ml double cream
A little olive oil for frying
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
AND FOR THE WINE
You need a wine that is delicate enough to marry well with the shellfish yet sturdy and well-structured for the truffle shavings, such as:
Au bon Climat Chardonnay £16.05
Herbal and toasty on the nose, fresh yet complex on the palate. An opulent wine.
Jacquesson Avize Grand Cru 1995 £42.80
Exceptionally dry, with all the ripeness and quality in the grapes you would expect from a top Champagne house. For a special occasion, this wine offers an array of nutty, apply aromas and flavours with a yeasty undertone which gives the wine an elegant structure.
For more details or to purchase these wines, please visit: www.elegusto.co.uk/gp
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