Saturday, March 10, 2007

Friday Finds: Valentines Edition

If you ask me, there's no better gift to give than a book. And on Valentines, I'd pick one of these two.

No, actually, I'd get both...

The New InterCourses: an aphrodisiac cookbook by Martha Hopkins and Randall Lockridge.

A long time ago in a world far away, I went to school with Martha Hopkins. And, I must report that she was one of those people who was always far beyond cool. In a good way. Even when we were all young and stupid, she was somehow above it. Goodness seems to follow her. Because my friends, to this day, EVERYTHING about her is cool. Where she lives is cool. Her job is cool. Her parties are cool. Her book collection is cool. Hell, even her fireplace lighter is cool. And her latest venture is no different.

Meet InterCourses. It’s where beautiful meets sensual. And it’s delicious.

It takes the best of the original book…which Martha wrote with her writing partner Randall a decade ago…and expands it, enhances it, elongates it, etc. You get what I’m saying? It’s good.

Last Fall, I was at Martha’s fantastic house (celebrating the Divine Alli and Baby Lydia) when she mentioned they would be releasing a new and improved version of the original just in time for Valentines. At the time, judging by the book’s gorgeous cover and press kit, I knew it was going to be amazing. And it definitely is. It’s hard to think they could improve on perfection, but as is the case with certain things, it’s really just gotten better with time.

And the grapes, my got the grapes! There’s this one recipe…grapes rolled in almonds and ginger (that involves purple grapes, cream cheese and candied ginger) and it’s almost the most amazing thing I’ve ever experienced. Almost.Well, the new book serves up the grapes again. Plus, each chapter delves into the history of aphrodisiacs, alongside true reports, results and hints drafted by couples that tested and tasted some of the 65 new dishes featured. (And I’m thrilled that one of the best reports came from one of my very favorite people on the planet. Betty, you’re so published! And so dirty!)

Bottom line: it’s beautiful and it’s so good. I hope you’re following me here.

Plus, the new edition includes a whopping 135 yummy recipes. So, even if you have the original InterCourses, you should definitely pick up this new edition. It’s delish.

Booty Food by Liz Gumbinner and Jacqui Malouf.

If Carrie Bradshaw were to have written a cookbook (only with the actual ability to cook) this would be it. But so much better than something typed by the fab and fictitious puntard Carrie B., this one was written by our favorite Mom101, Liz G.

That’s right. The very one.

Liz cowrote this fantastically fun book with Jacqui Malouf, the long-time co-host/sidekick of “Hot off the Grill with Bobby Flay” on the Food Network. And these girls know what they’re talking about. Combined, they have survived 47 blind dates, 28 boyfriends, 4 1/2 live-ins, one marriage and a confidential number of one-night stands. There's some experience for you.

And they serve it up for the love-hungry in such a great way. From proscuitto-wrapped melon to lobster eggs benedict with champagne hollandaise sauce, this book is delicious. But you don't need a culinary degree to cook things up because the recipes are completely doable. If you know what I mean.

According to brilliant Liz, “The idea is that booty food is anything that gets you in the mood. And anything can be booty food. It doesn't have to be oysters and caviar. It has more to do with the love you put into making it, serving it and enjoying, or the memories you have associated with it, it than the actual ingredients. So it can be take-out Chinese that you eat on the floor on a picnic blanket. Or mac and cheese in bed. Or whatever the first meal was that you and your husband fell in love over, recreated for valentine's day, from Nathan's hot dogs to beef Wellington.”

The book not only gives more than 70 recipes for romance, it takes you through every phase of a long-lasting relationship with sound but clever advice and recipes to compliment each one, like:

-If you pick at your salad, you're not going to come across as a woman who brings men to their knees on a regular basis.

-Don’t be afraid to try new things or admit you're in unexplored territory. Both at meals and in the bedroom, being yourself is sexy.

-If you cooked homemade noodles for dinner, don't make the chocolate soufflé cake too! It may lead your date to believe you're already picking out china patterns and a wedding singer.

Most importantly, I love that the recipes DO NOT have stupid names like "fetishini alfredo" or "ooh-la-lasagna." Because no one wants to eat something with a stupid name. Usually.


So take my advice, get one (or both) of these books. They are, of course, the gifts that keep on giving, and giving, and giving. You really shouldn't be disappointed. But if for some reason you're such a giver that you need to give even more, let me give you my mailing address, and here are some additional ideas.

A few years ago, the HcQ gave me a cast iron tea set from Teavana for Valentines. I loved it. And, to this day, I use it almost ritually.

With a great tea set, you need great tea. I fell in love with Marie Belle some time ago for their chocolate, but I’ve recently discovered their tea options. Very nice.

Love life need a kick? Why not trick out the bed. Get rid of those sheets from your wedding registry. Invest in your passion. Buy new sheets. You won’t be disappointed. And if nothing else, you'll sleep better at night.

And if you absolutely must buy chocolate, do it a bit differently. Resist the temptation to purchase a drugstore heart and try something more interesting like one of these treats from Dean & Deluca.


Thanks to so many of you for sending me exceptionally cool Friday Finds ideas. I loved them all. But since none happened to be all that Valentinesy, I'm waiting to start sharing your finds until next week. And there were some doozies. As always, if you have a find to share, send 'em on to helloqueso at gmail dot com. And have a very happy weekend before Valentines to all of you....

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