ROBERTA Flack is killing me softly and Elton John keeps warning me not to go breaking his heart, but when you’re chopping up morel mushrooms at $1300 a kilogram, these things seem somewhat insignificant. It’s only when Tina Turner reminds me I’m simply the best, that things start to take shape. It’s a sultry summer afternoon on the Gold Coast and I find myself in the most saucy of scenarios: an aphrodisiac cooking course at the Sofitel, Broadbeach. Under the tutelage of the hotel’s Room 81 Executive Chef Bill Magno I am adding my own karma sutra slant on six dishes, which the restaurant will be recreating for guests on Valentine’s Day as part of a raunchy package.
The fact I seem to be romantically challenged is not lost on me. However the signs for this stay are good. There’s a painting hanging in the foyer by an artist called John Romeo, but before I can ponder his whereabouts, I am whisked to my 21st floor room overlooking the ocean, and in which awaits a cold bottle of French champagne. But this is no time to drink, at least until I get to the restaurant, where bottles and bottles of the fine French fizzy await me, plus a couple of big knives. A combination at home which has often found me in considerable trouble.
The menu, which will be replicated on February 14, starts out with a freshly shucked cupid oyster with a veuve cliquot champagne granite. We all know oysters are an aphrodisiac, but did you realise this is because they are high in zinc, which raises sperm and testosterone production, thus increasing libido? Clearly not my libido, I think as I try to shuck one of the slippery suckers with a sharp knife, while not shredding any major appendages.
The oyster is followed by a shaved jamon iberico with figs and almonds with a lemon marmalade dressing. Figs, it turns out, are a synonym in erotic literature for female sexual organs and so revered by the ancient Greeks when it came to fertility, they were more precious than gold. Almonds are also regarded as fertility symbols and those with almond-shaped eyes are considered sexy. This, I reflect, could be my problem. I don’t have almond-shaped eyes.
Next up are the seared nova scotian scallops, cauliflower silk, asparagus and morel mushrooms with a truffle vinaigrette. Given I spent a good hour peeling the asparagus, including some rather fancy white sprigs from Peru, I find it imperative to learn that this vegetable is said to stir up lust in men and women. I don’t know about lust but I have a blister on my thumb from all the peeling. Curiously, it is said to boost histamine production which is necessary to reach orgasm in both sexes. I mean, the peeling was fun, but it wasn’t THAT fun.
Main meal, if there is such a thing in a six-course production, is a lamb loin, crispy lamb breast terrine, broad beans, sunchoke puree, pommes fondant and anise jus. The sweet liquorice flavour of aniseed was believed by both the ancient Romans and Greeks to strengthen female sexual arousal. Now, we’re getting somewhere.
Vanilla and honey panacotta form the first dessert (yes, there’s multiple deserts on this menu), with a vanilla pod considered a mild nerve stimulant which can enhance sexual sensation. Honey, on the other hand, was once known as Aphrodite’s nectar and has long been associated with romance. I make a mental note to stop at the local beehive on the way home.
The night is not complete with an erect cherry soufflé, chocolate sauce and coconut sorbet. And we all know that chocolate is not only a vital food group but increases your body’s endorphin and serotonin levels. We finish dinner with tea, coffee and heart-shaped macaroons, all innuendo and any remaining cooking skills exhausted.
I head back to my room ready to retire my chef’s hat and apron but the hotel has other ideas in store for me. My rather enormous bed is covered in rose petals in the shape of a love heart. I’ve had one or two champagnes, so at first I think I’ve mistakenly entered someone else’s room. But I carefully slip myself under the doona – not unlike one would a slice a cheese into an already packed sandwich – and fall asleep laughing myself silly at cupid and his crooked bow. The next morning, with rose petals scattered all over the bed, the floor and a couple stuck to my face, and as I consider how I’m going to explain this carnage to the housekeeper, I reflect on life and love. My eye catches the bottom of the Valentine’s Day menu beside my bed, upon which is inscribed the words: “magnez bien, riez souvent, aimez beaucoup”. Which translated means: “eat well, laugh often, love much.” And so while I wait for cupid to get his damn arrow straight, this is what I plan to do.
The Global Goddess travelled as a guest of Sofitel Broadbeach. To book this six-course feast, which includes a wine package of Australian, New Zealand and French varietals, priced at $225 per person; or the Deluxe Valentine’s Room package for $795 per couple, which includes an overnight stay and breakfast as well as the six-course dinner, go to http://www.sofitelgoldcoast.com.au