Eat Your Way to Love

Valentine’s Day is a bit of a fluffy holiday, what with its Cupid-drawn arrows flying around swirling pink hearts, lush flowers and rich chocolates being flung at a loved one, and sappy cards that don’t really embody the true beauty of love.  It can all be a little overwhelming to even the most savvy of gentlemen (and lady).  But we here at the market, l-o-v-e the food aspect of Valentine’s Day; it’s a clear opportunity to try your hand at a new recipe to impress, vamp up a tried-and-true favorite, or really spoil your guy or gal with decadent and delicious fare.  Aphrodisiacs are at the top of the food list come lovers day and we’d be remiss if we didn’t share some of the sexy and enticing foods you can find in one stop at the Calgary Farmers’ Market.

Aphrodisiacs go way back and it’s not just about flavor, it involves the shape and texture of certain foods to arouse the mind, making them not just about taste, but also a cerebral experience.  Whether or not these foods actually turn you on is still to be proven, but if it’s tasty, why not give it a try?  Here are our top six.

First up: Oysters

pacific_oysters

Oysters are perhaps the most famous of aphrodisiacs; while they are visually suggestive, oysters are also high in zinc and have a reputation for being great for love and fertility.  Our friends over at Blu Seafood have fresh oysters on hand for you if you want to stick with the notorious aphrodisiac.  Owner, Brian Plunkett, is also a trained chef so if you aren’t a fan of slurping them down raw, he can suggest just the right way to prepare them to suit the mood.

2. Chili Peppers

red_hot_chili_peppers

An exotic reputation and a bright red color, chili peppers kind of just look like love. But scientifically, they stimulate endorphins, speed up heart rate and make you sweat, which all mimic how you feel when you’re say…. hot and bothered.  Gull Valley Greenhouses and The Cucumber Man are prime spots at the market to pick up some peppers to heat things up.

3. Avocados

avocado

We’re not sure exactly how lustful an avocado is; it could be the sensuous shape or the rich, creamy flavor of the fruit that warranted it being dubbed as an aphrodisiac.  But when its reputation goes as far back as the Aztecs, you can’t argue with history, right?  We won’t.  And neither will Cherry Pit or Blush Lane Organics, both brimming with ripe, ready-to-indulge avocados.

4. Chocolate

chocolate

What would Valentine’s Day be without chocolate?  Do you have to give your love bug a heart-shaped box of mass-produced chocolates?  No!  In fact, we invite you to stop by Papa Chocolat to spoil your taste buds with silky smooth, unique and sensual flavors like dark cayenne or lavender cream, hand-crafted  by Bernard Callebaut himself.

5. Honey

honey

Birds and bees ring a bell?   Sweet and sticky, honey is chalked full of healthy vitamins that are said to increase desire.  In fact, the word ‘honeymoon’ got its name from mead, an alcoholic beverage made from honey given to the happy new bride and groom.  We have plenty of honey to be found around the market from the delicious Alpine Wildflower Honey at Beeland, Nixon Honey at Innisfail Growers Co-op, Chinook Honey at LA CUCINA, and Saskatoon Berry Honey from the Saskatoon Berry Farm.

6.  Cinnamon, Cardamom, and Nutmeg

Spice Collage

Nothing like spicing up your love life, literally.  Cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg all have ancient aphrodisiac roots spanning from Arabia to China; their warming properties really seem to heat things up if you know what we mean.  Swing by The Silk Road Spice Merchant for some exotic ways to enhance a meal or that cup of tea you’re enjoying all snuggled up by the fire.

Whatever way you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day, we hope it’s a lovely occasion for you and your sweetheart.  And if you need a little more inspiration, check out our Valentine’s Day event and Enter to Win a Romantic Getaway to CRMR‘s Emerald Lake Lodge!

Cobb Salad with Roasted Sweet Onion Dressing

photo 3

Have you ever met someone who just doesn’t like a cobb salad?  Sure, there are vegetarians or vegans and ingredient-restricted individuals who steer clear of this delicious, often-reinterpreted salad, but there’s something for everyone in the well-rounded salad that eats like a meal.  This version, with a southern sweet onion twist, is sure to please even the pickiest of palates.  While it has many individual elements, it all comes together quickly and taking the time to make your own dressing is entirely worth it.  So let’s get started.

Ingredients

Market-Sourced Ingredients

Dressing:

6 unpeeled garlic cloves from Souto Farms

1-2 large sweet onions, peeled and quartered through the core from Souto Farms

1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing from La Cucina

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

juice and zest of 1 lemon from Cherry Pit

Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

Salad:

1 clamshell of fresh Alberta romaine lettuce from Cherry Pit

1 clamshell of fresh spicy microgreens from Cherry Pit

1 avocado from Cherry Pit

1 bag of sweet tomatoes (your preference) from Gull Valley Greenhouses

2 cups shredded cooked Bowden Farms chicken from Spragg’s Meat Shop

1 package of bacon from Spragg’s Meat Shop

4 ounces crumbly Gorgonzola cheese, (1/2 cup) from Fresh DELIcious

1/2 cup toasted pecans, choppped from Going Nuts

2 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and sliced lengthwise from Sylvan Star Cheese (or Blush Lane Organics)

Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

Cobb Salad Collage

MAKE THE DRESSING: As we are likely enjoying the last week of warm sun and beautiful blue skies, we opted to grill the chicken and onions.  We even wrapped the garlic in foil and threw it on the grill too.  If you choose to do this step of the process in the oven, roast at 425°. Wrap the bulb of garlic (or individual cloves) in foil and set on a baking sheet. Brush the onions with oil and arrange on the baking sheet. Bake for about 1 hour, until the onions and garlic are lightly charred and soft. Let cool.

Peel the garlic and transfer the cloves to a processor. Add the onions, cider vinegar and lemon juice and puree until smooth. With the blender on, gradually add the 1/2 cup of olive oil until incorporated. Season the dressing with salt and pepper.  At this point, we’d like to be perfectly transparent and admit that while our recipe calls for absolute measurements, we prefer to free-pour the vinegar and oil and trust our instincts.  Food is all about what tastes good right?  So if you want to add a little more vinegar, knock yourself out!  This dressing should have a good kick to it as it will cut through the rich chicken, bacon, and avocado and balance the salad.  Remember: Taste. Taste. Taste.  Taste as you go.

Set Up

MAKE THE SALAD: In an effort to not overdress the salad (who wants wilty, wet salad?), we placed the romaine and micorgreens in the bowl and arranged the remaining ingredients on top.  Just before serving, add your fresh-made sweet onion dressing and allow your guests to toss it all together to really see the magic happen.

This salad is a full meal that is sure to leave your family satisfied, hitting every mark: crisp lettuce leaves, succulent chicken, salty bacon, creamy avocado, bright tomatoes, nut-crunch…. and that’s just a few!  If you don’t like blue cheese, a milder cheese will absolutely work in this salad.  Choose what you like…. because let’s face it, food is meant to be enjoyed so use what you love and leave with a full and happy tummy.

*The onion dressing can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.