Chocolate body paint and rose petals are for amateurs. We all know that the way to someone's heart is via the belly. If these dishes look familiar, it's because they're the all-stars of precoital dining, the greatest hits that will never disappear from Valentine's menus (even if you secretly want them to). So don't go rogue and try to be creative; make these dishes, because they taste good and you want to eat them.
Crab Cakes with Quick Aioli
Nothing says "I love you" like a crisp, freshly pan-fried crab cake, just like this recipe—perfect for making ahead and heating at the last minute—says you're the perfect unflustered spouse or potential partner. Our quick aioli, made with store-bought mayo, extends the narrative.
Oysters with Prosecco Mignonette
Valentine's Day just wouldn't be Valentine's Day without something bubbly. The mignonette sauce for these highly seductive oysters on the half shell calls for a splash of Prosecco, Champagne, or whatever else is tickling your nose in the glass.
Maybe it's the luxurious texture, the richness, or the possibility that your forks will accidentally touch mid-dip: Whatever it is, fondue is sexy. This recipe will have you and your Valentine twirling in no time.
Basic Steamed Lobster
Lobster is a luxury food that actually tastes luxurious, and the act of eating one in the shell—cracking claws, picking out the flesh—is, like love, not something that takes well to hurrying.
Warm Lobster Salad
If you're baby isn't into getting his or her fingers all lobster-y from a whole steamed specimen, this salad is an elegant, no-bib solution.
Black Truffles Over Fresh Pasta
The aroma of fresh black truffles is deep and enchanting, and this beautifully simple pasta lets those truffles shine. You'll also impress your Valentine with how much you dropped on dinner, and/or how frugal you are not to be paying restaurant prices.
Pepper-Crusted Filet Mignon with Béarnaise Sauce
Beef filet looks and tastes fancy, but it's the simplest thing to make. Here, a black pepper crust gives it personality, and the béarnaise gives it glamour.
Red Velvet Cake
Everything about "red" and "velvet" signals Valentine's romance, and there's nothing about baking a chocolate cake for your sweetie that doesn't score you points!
Compared to sour, underripe store-bought ones, DIY dipped berries are a revelation: better fruit, better chocolate, more seduction.
Chocolate Lava Cake with Raspberry Coulis
The ultimate Valentine's dessert: opulent, rich, and—in its own small way—grand. After this, you'll want to stack the plates in the sink and take it to the couch.
Photos by Chris Rochelle