A Day of Love… Food and Wine.



It is almost Valentines Day and love is everywhere. Who likes to go out on a dinner date? Are restaurants trying too hard to lure customers in on this big night? Well, in my opinion, Valentines Day has always been a chance to stay home with my wife and really go all out on my food and wine pairings. This year does not look dissappointing at all. I have crafted a wonderful evening of sensual food and wine which will leave your loved ones feeling extra loved. Forget the restaurant and make your home a very special place on this special day!

To start the night off right, I have created an amuse bouche of Phyllo dough cups stuffed with crab and goat cheese. An amuse bouche is France’s answer to Spain’s tapas. A small bite to get you hungrier! So here it is in sequential order of service…

You will need Phyllo dough cups. I find them in the frozen pastry aisle in my local market and have seen them in many states. The brand I like is called Athens. Next you will need French Goat Cheese (not crumbled) and Lump crab meat. Sizes for these are standard and you will have left over crab and goat cheese. In a small mixing bowl combine enough crab and goat cheese for 4 phyllo cups. Add some freshly chopped dillweed, a pinch of salt and pepper to taste and combine everything into a paste consistency. Fill phyllo cups with crab and goat cheese filling and place into frozen phyllo cups. Preheat oven at 350 degrees fahrenheit and bake for 3-5 minutes…

My wine pairing suggestion for this amuse bouche is the 2012 Nobilo Sauvignon blanc from Marlborough, NZ. Sauv blancs are made to drink young and are not age-worthy. The Nobilo is crisp, fresh and acidic with notes of green bell pepper, grassy herbal notes and tropical fruit. A lovely, light, easy drinking wine that stands up perfectly to the creamy and herbal notes in the Phyllo cups.


Next up is the Codfish crudo with an olive oil green apple puree. Crudo is Italy’s take on Japanese Sashimi and like in Spanish translates to “raw”. For this recipe, you will need .54 lbs fresh cod or similar white fish such as snapper. Mint leaves and olive oil, one green apple and two small baby radishes. Parsley and 1 large juicy lime. I chose to pair the crudo with the Nobilo Sauv. Blanc as well…

You need to core the green apple and throw it into your blender with 1 1/2 sprigs mint leaves. Slowly add 2, 1/4 cups unfiltered olive oil. Puree is done. Cut 6 or 8 pieces of the fish sashimi style about half of an inch thick. In a small mixing or pinch bowl whisk together olive oil and juice of the lime and add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.

For the garnish, julienne 2 baby radishes skin on. Add a small sprig of chopped parsley and 6 mint leaves also chopped. Next add in a teaspoon or 2 of olive oil… Plate with puree as a bed. Arrange the fish pieces neatly on top of apple puree. Drizzle with lime juice and top with garnish.



For the main dish, I made a risotto recipe I mastered at La Confiture in Caracas, Venezuela while working as Sous-Chef. It is a creamy sundried tomato red wine risotto.

Ingredients are as follows:
4 cups vegetable stock
4 cups Italian red wine (bolla is ok for cooking)
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp butter
1 small onion finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1 tbsp fresh parsley
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
2 2/3 cup arborio rice

– Bring the stock and wine to a boil in a pan, then reduce the heat and leave over low heat.
– Heat the oil with 2 tbsp of the butter in a deep pot over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the onion and stir frequently for 5 min.
– Add the rice and stir into the butter and oil to coat. Cook stirring constantly for 2-3 min. Add the sundried tomatoes and the hot stock gradually, a ladlefull at a time, stirring constantly. Cook for 20 min., or until all the stock has been absorbed. Add chopped thyme and parsley 5 min. before the end of cooking time as well as salt and pepper.
– Remove the risotto from the heat and add the remaining butter and the parmesan and fold to incorporate.

My pairing suggestion is the 2008 Rubrato Aglianico Dei Feudi Di San Gregorio. This is a volcanic Vesuvius wine from Campania in southern Italy. This wine has salty, smokey, notes with dark berries. A perfect wine to compliment this robust rustic dish.


To finish off the evening with a bang, I crafted my own homemade chocolate dipped steawberries. For this you will need a 1 lb. box of strawberries, 1 1/2 bars of Godiva 70% dark chocolate, a bag of Dove white milk chocolate and parchment paper. Place the dark chocolate in a small pinch or mixing bowl. Boil some water in a medium pot and add the bowl with the chocolate into the water (Bain Marie). This way you won’t get burnt chocolate. Wash and dry the strawberries and dip into dark melted chocolate. Place dipped strawberries on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place into fridge. Meanwhile in the same pot with boiling water, add a bowl with 8 squares dove white chocolate and melt. Next take the strawberries out of the fridge and dip a teaspoon into the white chocolate and drizzle chocolate over the strawberries. Re-insert strawberries into the fridge until ready to eat.

My pairing suggestion is the Rosa Regale from the famous Banfi Winery of Montalcino. This is a light, sensual and velvety sparkling red with notes of strawberries and roses. Great for dessert.

What a beautiful night and what special moments with your loved one in the comfort of your home. A true five star Michelin experience… Happy Saint Valentines day and Cin Cin from Cantinetta Vintners. May love, great wine and delicious food accompany you on this journey of life, always!

Categories: Pairings

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For any inquiries please email me at chris@cantinettavintners.com

One Comment on “A Day of Love… Food and Wine.”

  1. Irene Caplan
    February 13, 2014 at 6:27 pm #

    You have created the most fabulous dinner for Valentine’s Day. I could not do without it!
    Will enjoy it and think of you!!

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