Eat, My Sweet

TheWay to a Lover's Heart...

"When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore..." -- Dean Martin

What better way to express undying love than to present the object of your affection with a taste-tempting, soul-satisfying, orgasmic bite to eat? Austin chefs, bakers, confectioners, and pastry chefs are ready to entice you with their most exquisite Valentine's creations yet. Tantalizing appetizers, elegant entrées, and decadent chocolate treats abound -- along with heart-shaped confections of every possible description. Phone calls made last week to favorite local romantic dining spots revealed a trend toward early reservations. Popular eateries that don't take reservations encourage diners to get their names in very early on the evening of the 14th. Regardless of where you intend to entertain your significant other, plan ahead to avoid embarrassment or disappointment.

"Marriage, as I have often remarked, is not merely sharing one's fettucine but sharing the burden of finding the fettucine restaurant in the first place."

--Calvin Trillin

The fax machine has been hot with dazzling Valentine menus. The best bargain I've seen on a prix fixe dinner is from the new Jean-Luc's French Bistro. With charming, informal European atmosphere, professional French-accented service, and a very reasonably priced French wine list, they offer a French country appetizer, entrée, and dessert for $25 per person. The most romantic suggestion comes from ancho's, A Texas Restaurant in the Omni Hotel; make reservations beforehand for an after-dinner carriage ride with Die Gelbe Rose Carriages (517-1999), then enjoy the Valentine menu at ancho's ($65 per couple) to operatic accompaniment. Your dinner receipt will qualify you for a special rate on the carriage ride around downtown, and you'll have lots of opportunities to snuggle.

For those who are enamored of sunset views of Town Lake, the Shoreline Grill menu will include a mixed grill with chili and garlic cured rack of lamb and slices of Muscovy duck breast in a porcini mushroom essence, and lobster with their popular black bean ravioli. Reservations at Bertram's will offer you and your sweet baboo the opportunity to dine downstairs at 6:30pm, take dessert upstairs at 7:30pm, and enjoy Christine Albert's annual French Show with the Cow Beret orchestra afterwards. The Bertram's Valentine evening costs a mere $40 per person, with a portion of the proceeds going to Austin Rape Crisis Center's Christine Albert Survivors Fund.

Dessert lovers will be enchanted by the spectacular array of sweets planned for this Valentine's Day. Jeffrey's patrons will choose from a Meyer Lemon Pucker-Up, a Bittersweet Embrace, or a Berry Red Kiss. Diners at Coyote Cafe can decide between a Tart Tatin for Two, a Chocolate Cherry Seduction, or a Passion Potion. Granite Cafe customers loyal to the traditional favorite Chocolate Bag will find it, along with an inspired creation of meringue layers filled with caramel ice cream and poached pear ice cream garnished with caramelized pecans and blood orange jus.

"There is no sight on earth more appealing than the sight of a woman making dinner for someone she loves." --Thomas Wolfe

In the market for an edible gift to be shared in the privacy of your own home? Drop by any Sweetish Hill location and pick up a heart-shaped white chocolate eclair or some very large, hand-decorated gingerbread or shortbread heart cookies emblazoned with a personal loving message ranging from the sweet to the sassy. At Amandine, all your favorite fine European desserts (Opera Torte, Amandine Torte, Linzertart) will be made in heart shapes, and there will be Sweet Teddy Bears -- huggable, edible one-pound sweet bread loaves -- to make your dear heart smile. If your beloved is one of the thousands with a jones for Hyde Park Fudge Cake, order the special heart-shaped variety at any Texas French Bread location around town and grab a few heart-shaped scones for the inevitable morning-after repast.

Upper Crust will have red heart tins packed with chocolate Coeur a la Creme, just enough for two, and Bags o' Hearts, little packages of 2 dozen tiny heart cookies. There will be a cellist playing all day at la Madeleine, entertaining lovers as they linger lovingly over raspberry cheesecake for two. Perhaps an almond tuile filled with white chocolate Snickers mousse decorated with chocolate hearts would please yourenamorada; order one from Bread Alone and while you're there, pick up several of the lovely, hand-painted hearts from Penny's Pastries.

There are those lovers who speak of chocolate as though it were alive, and the only prescription for their affliction (and often the key to their hearts) can be found at Dr. Chocolate. The doctors have chocolate-covered everything; fresh fruit, candied fruit, popcorn, pretzels, and biscotti. For those who might prefer pasta to sweets, Bottega della Pasta has Heart-Shaped Ravioli filled with goat cheese, artichoke hearts, shiitake mushrooms and asparagus tips, eight pieces to the pound.

"After a perfect meal we are more susceptible to the ecstasy of love than at any other time."

-- Dr. Hans Bazli n

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