By Frank Sabatini Jr.
Photos by Brevin Blach
Think of them as moisturizers for our libidos, those everyday foods believed to rouse romantic energies because of their shapes, ?avors and nutritional properties. Aside from their supposed hormone-pumping effects, some carry the extra bene?ts of calming nerves, restoring nutritional de?ciencies and preserving healthy cells with payloads of antioxidants. So forget the Spanish Fly this Valentine's Day season and bite straight into these luscious aphrodisiacs instead.
In addition to their high levels of zinc, a key mineral in testosterone production, these slippery bivalves boast the natural ?avors of saline and butter with a snip of fruitiness on the ?nish-bewitching the palate and, in some cases, the eyes. "Anytime I can watch my date slurp something, I'm in," says Chef Anthony Sinsay of Harney Sushi, who just introduced oyster- champagne shooters (made with sustainable oysters from Carlsbad Aqua Farms) in cucumber-basil consommé. Sold in trios, these love shots get their tickling effervescence from champagne and extra sweetness from local apple mignonette.
$7 during happy hour; $11 thereafter
3964 Harney St., Old Town
301 Mission Ave., Oceanside
It wasn't some sex-crazed hedonist who dubbed them "testicle trees"-it was the (sex-crazed) Aztecs who originally noted the way avocados hang from their branches in pairs. The creamy green fruit has since been framed as more than just a visual suggestion of sex, given its superior measures of oleic acid for heart health and stamina, Vitamin A for maintaining good vision (and accurately sizing up new romantic prospects), and Vitamin B6 for regulating hormone balance. At Candelas in Coronado and Downtown, the spell is cast through the Estructura de Aguacate starter: whole Haas avocados, halved and stuffed with lime-marinated scallops, shrimp and crabmeat and given a sensual top-off of cilantro cream and mango vinaigrette. It's an appetizer that challenges couples to stay in their seats for the remaining courses.
416 Third Ave., Gaslamp
1201 First St., Coronado
If your affection for another goes unrequited, take a cue from the ancient Chinese by making a love potion from coriander (a.k.a cilantro seed). Even easier, nudge the person into ordering channa masala at Ashoka the Great, which uses cilantro seeds as a main ingredient in the aromatic sauce covering garbanzo beans. The vegetarian dish also features fresh ginger, another organic touted for its aphrodisiacal oomph. "But the coriander has to be there for making a fragrant masala," says manager Jagrup Singh, who imports the spice from India. The seeds are pulverized with cardamom, cinnamon and black peppercorns and start releasing their charm (and antioxidants) faster than you can play footsie under the table.
9474 Black Mountain Rd., Ste. G, Mira Mesa
Common to the fabled Dionysian orgies of ancient Greece, voluptuous ?gs hit the taste buds with a ?eshy texture and honeyed nectar that can turn unsuspecting humans into amorous spring bees. Fibrous and full of potassium, they're known to alleviate fatigue, which plays favorably for post-dinner romance. Look no further than The Fig Tree Café in Hillcrest for mouthfuls of the sexy fruit set within a mantle of buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto and zippy arugula. For obvious shows of affection, Chef Alberto Morreale assists by shaping the pizza crust into a darling heart.
416 University Ave., Hillcrest
The mother of all aphrodisiacs shows up in a new collection of Valentine's Day indulgences by wholesaler San Diego chocolatier David Bacco, who insists his heart-shaped sweets "work just as well for males." Indeed, studies have proven that macho brains enjoy the same stimulating punch from chocolate as women, thanks to the superfood's hefty levels of phenethylamine (a.k.a. "the love drug"). Bacco's latest creations include Incantato, made with milk chocolate, passion fruit and caramel; plus Captive, which combines the chocolate with mango ganache and balsamic reduction. Fall under Bacco's sweet spell on Valentine's Day, when he works his chocolate magic into each phase of a four-course, $65-per-person prix-?xe menu at North Park's Sea Rocket Bistro (6 and 8:30 p.m. seatings on Feb. 14). His products are available at Jonathan's in La Jolla, Seaside Market in Cardiff, Albertson's in Del Mar and Harvest Ranch stores.
9888 Waples St., Sorrento Valley