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Welcome to delicious Destinations, a GourmetStation blog. Through the charater of T.Alexander and occasional real-life guests, our aim is to share with you light-hearted fun ideas about food, gift giving, entertaining and culture. At the same time we would love you hear from you. Please share your experiences from home or abroad.

Valentine’s Day…..a Restauranteur’s Delight!

Posted: January 23, 2008
by: Robert Jackson

For many years, I enjoyed the pleasure of owning and managing my own very successful restaurant. It was extremely hard work though and terribly long hours, but it was very fulfilling and a wonderful challenge. Indeed, one of the greatest challenges is to cope with the peaks and troughs of the business which are at least (largely!) predictable. Once Christmas & New Year have gone, we would take a deep breath, and get ready for the next major promotion – Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s is ALLWAYS one of the biggest days of the year, particularly when it falls on a mid week (less busy) night. Planning begins in earnest well before the Christmas rush gets under way. I would always have my menus and promotional activities mapped out before the end of November.  In this business (as indeed in most others), planning is everything.

But regardless of how meticulous I was with the planning, the unforeseen inevitably occurred! Like the time that instead of 6 dozen read roses being delivered (a gift for the ladies), white lilies turned up instead! How did that happen?

Or on another occasion when plump juicy strawberries had been ordered (for a rather sensual offering of Chocolate Dipped Strawberries, a tray of very tired and slightly over-ripened raspberries were delivered instead. Quick, re-write the menu…..again!!

Due to the popularity of the event, we would offer a choice of either an early service (6.30 to 7pm arrival) or a late service (8.30 to 9pm arrival). Needless to say, there would always be a few couples who would arrive late for the early service, and a number of other couples arriving early for the late service. Collision course! Successfully juggling tables and bookings, without upsetting customers is a true sign of a slick and professional Restauranteur.

And then there was always the sticky question of just how many tables of two it was physically possible to provide! The table arrangements in most restaurants are a mix of fours and twos which can be combined for different configurations. But on Valentine’s night, who wants a table for four? Nobody of course! Plus it’s not just about how many tables you can squeeze in, it’s also about giving enough “private”, personal space where lovers can talk, intimately. Yes, Valentine’s always was quite a challenge.

But there is something incredibly satisfying about saying farewell to one hundred or so (largely!) very satisfied couples, linked hand in hand, all gooey-eyed and  feeling really, really good about life! And it’s that sort of great experience that makes all of the hard work and stress worthwhile!

And so now, I would like to share with you a recipe for one of my all-time favorite appetisers, perfect for a romantic evening for two……Oysters Rockefeller. This is one of the truly great, American classics. A dish so famous worldwide that chefs still go to incredible lengths to encapsulate the original dish as produced by the chefs of Antoine’s in New Orleans.

(This recipe features as part of my gourmet Valentine’s Menu.

Oysters Rockefeller

Ingredients - Serves 2 as a 1st course or 6 for appetizers:

12 oysters

2oz (50g) unsalted butter

1 small stick of celery, finely sliced

2 spring onions finely sliced

1 clove garlic, finely chopped (optional)

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Handful of watercress leaves, finely chopped

Dash of Pernod or other anise-flavored liquor

Salt and Tabasco sauce, to taste

2 slices white bread, crusts removed

Rock salt for cooking

Lemon wedges & parsley sprigs to serve


1. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the celery, spring onions, garlic, parsley, watercress and Pernod. Season to taste with salt and Tabasco sauce.

2. Tip the mix into a food processor or blender, add the bread and process for 30 seconds to produce "green breadcrumbs". This mix can now be put into a bowl, covered and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance.

3. Using an oyster knife, twist open the oyster shells and remove the oysters and liquor into a bowl. Discard the top shells and scrub and dry the bottom shells. Drain the oysters and check for shell fragments.

4. Preheat the broiler (grill) to maximum.

5. Line a baking tray with rock salt and place the oyster shells on it.

6. Place an oyster in each shell and spoon over a little of the reserved oyster liquor.

7. Spoon the crumb mixture over each oyster to cover them completely.

8. Finally, broil (grill) the oysters for about 1 to 2 minutes or until the topping is bubbling and nicely colored.


Arrange the oysters on a serving dish and garnish with sprigs of parsley and lemon wedges.


Courtesy of Gourmet Food Revolution.com


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Your Comments

We have some great ideas too - A Chocolate Soiree that is not just for the "he" and "she" but the "WE" and a romantic tasting dinner for two "From Russia With Love" check us out! http://www.partybluprints.com

Posted by: Dawn at Jan 24, 2008 11:42:10 AM

Great find, I'm always in search of new restaurant recipes, thank you!

Posted by: SavoryTv at Sep 11, 2008 1:20:33 AM