by Lauren Wilson for Viva Tastings, a ‘Certified Good Food Fighter

Ah, Valentine’s Day.  Some might argue that it’s the most contrived and commercially driven holiday of the year (rivaling Christmas, of course), what with all the fluffy white teddy bears bearing “I Love You” embroidered pillows, heart shaped confections, greeting cards and, of course, roses.  While the romantics out there might relish Valentine’s Day as an occasion to express the heart’s true desire, still others just don’t want to be the mope who forgot all about it.

Regardless of where you stand on the pro-or-anti Valentine’s Day spectrum – a meal is often part of the festivities.  And here at Viva, we are strict believers that nothin’ says lovin’ like a home cooked meal.  Think about it, cooking together can be quite intimate – helping each other get on aprons, getting your hands dirty and the subsequent finger licking, with the delicious perfumes of your cooking meal wafting about, a bottle of something, and that pesky travel time to and from a show or restaurant cut out of the equation.

Below we’ve included a recipe for Flaming Shrimp (which we recommend enjoying with a nice bottle of Chardonnay) and for dessert a lovely Chocolate Fondue.  To start off the meal, just pick up or whip up some choice nibbles nibbles, like some lovely artisanal cheeses paired with our scrumptious Figgy Salami (recipe here).  Or, if you’d like the experience without all the dirty dishes to deal with afterwards, why not join us at the Viva Tasting’s kitchen where we will be hosting a couples cooking class on Valentine’s Day (February 14th $90 per person).  We will be cooking a French bistro themed dinner, enjoying un peu du vin, and finishing off with quelque chose chocolat for dessert.  Parfait!

Flaming Shrimp For Two

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp minced garlic
10 medium sized tiger shrimp, peeled and de-veined (adjust depending on the number of courses)
1/3 cup coarsely chopped roasted sweet red peppers
1/3 cup coarsely chopped, well drained canned tomatoes
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/8 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 oz Pernod
1 tsp lemon juice or to taste


1. In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil over high heat. Add the garlic, and when it sizzles, add the shrimp and stir-fry until they turn pink. Add the roasted peppers and tomatoes and stir-fry until the shrimp are cooked through.

2. While the shrimp are cooking, have the Pernod and lemon ready for the flaming.

3. Add the feta and basil to the prawns and stir to combine. Scoop the mixture to one side of the hot frying pan and place the pan on a surface away from the burner.

4. Stay well back from the pan and pour the Pernod into the empty side of the pan and ignite immediately with a long match.

5. Pour the lemon juice over the shrimp to douse the flames, then give the shrimps a stir (if this process scares you, just add the Pernod to the prawns after they have finished cooking). This however, lacks the drama.

6. Serve alone or with pasta, rice or bread to mop up the juices.

Chocolate Fondue For Two
This romantic dessert is easy and can be served in a small ceramic pot that uses a tea candle as the heat source. Or, if you have a fondue pot, this can be used as well.

6 oz organic semi sweet chocolate
1/2 cup 35% whipping cream
2 tsp rum, brandy or cassis

For Dipping:
Cubes of toasted croissant
Slices of Kiwi
Slices of fresh pineapple


1. Heat water in a double boiler or a stainless steel bowl placed over a pot until simmering.

2. Turn the heat down to low, and melt the chocolate and cream together stirring constantly making sure the chocolate doesn’t burn.

3. When melted, pour the mixture into your ceramic pot or fondue pot over the lit candle. Add the rum, brandy or cassis and keep warm on low heat.

4. Use a dipping fork to dip the croissant cubes and fruit into the hot chocolate and enjoy!

Lauren Wilson is a jack-of-all-food-trades.  After cooking with Karen and Anne at Viva Tastings and eating up all the good bits of Toronto, she followed a trail of crumbs to Brooklyn where she is cooking, writing, and eating happily.