- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 24, 2006

In February, love is in the air and Cupid hunts around for targets for his arrows. At Oyamel (2250 Crystal Drive, Arlington; 703/413-2288), singles can celebrate Valentine’s Day at a special dinner. The restaurant will feature a large communal table to accommodate 12 diners as well as four tables of six to encourage single men and women to meet and eat on Feb. 14. Who knows where Cupid’s arrow may light?

Oyamel’s four-course menu ($36 per person) is complemented by a passion fruit cocktail and includes oysters topped with passion fruit air, quail stuffed with fruit, squash blossoms filled with goat cheese, and chocolate cake “with a warm heart.”

Savino Recine is dishing up Valentine’s specials at his two restaurants: “Magic Amour” at Primi Piatti (2013 I St. NW; 202/223-3600), and “Think Pink” at Finemondo (1319 F St. NW; 202/737-3100). His four-course, $85 dinner also begins with oysters but continues with pasta stuffed with pears and Taleggio cheese, veal tenderloin with rosemary sauce, and hazelnut chocolate cake. The “Think Pink” menu, also $85, is truly pink: smoked salmon, pink heart-shaped ravioli stuffed with lobster and crawfish, roast filet of beef — cooked pink — and pink rose petals on the dessert.

Mr. Recine has talents beyond cooking. He’s an illusionist and mentalist and will entertain his guests throughout the evening by performing tableside illusions with hearts, fire, roses and rings at Primi Piatti.

The Valentine special at Dino (3435 Connecticut Ave. NW, 202/686-2966) is for the over-21 crowd. The menu, $150 per couple, will feature dishes considered to have aphrodisiac powers, such as oyster soup, pink risotto made with rock shrimp, a creme brulee trio and a pomegranate Bellini. A traditional five-course menu for $120 per couple includes foie gras with truffle bits, mushroom tart, prosciutto, rolled pork lasagna, and duck two ways. Wine pairings of four 3-ounce selections for $25 or $55 are available.

Aphrodisiacs are also on the menu at Hank’s Oyster Bar (1624 Q St. NW; 202/462-4265), honoring Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. The special $38 Valentine’s Day menu, served from 5:30 to 10 p.m., begins with choices including lobster bisque and a variety of oysters; then seared sea scallops, coriander-crusted tuna, and sirloin steak. An assortment of chocolates concludes dinner. Chef-owner Jamie Leeds is introducing her kissing fish cocktail for $11.

If your romance needs a boost, or your passion needs a bit of igniting, the Fairmont Washington (2401 M St. NW, 202/457-5020) has an unusual offer. Chef Hubert Billod-Morel is standing by with his culinary knowledge and a computer and will address any affair of the heart. Beginning Feb. 1, you can e-mail your love quandary to lovechefs@fairmont.com and Mr. Billod-Morel or another chef will respond with an appropriate recipe, guaranteed to incite romance. After all, the way to the heart is through the stomach.

Another major event begins Feb. 10 when the Winter Olympics open in Turin, Italy. The Curious Grape (4056 S. 28 St., Arlington; 703/671-8700), Shirlington’s wine and specialty food shop, is celebrating the games with a series of free tastings of the famous wines from Italy’s Piedmont region around Turin. Customers can taste and learn about these wines and score the wines in each category; gold, silver and bronze medals will be awarded for each wine type. The schedule is: Dolcetto on Feb. 11; Moscato, Feb. 16; Barbera, Feb. 18; Barbaresco, Feb. 23; and Barolo, Feb. 25. The tastings are from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday. Piedmont cheeses will be offered from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 17 and 21.

Nathan Beauchamp is the new executive chef at 1789 Restaurant (1226 36th St. NW; 202/338-1789). Mr. Beauchamp, from Chestertown, Md., was chef de cuisine at Restaurant Eve in Alexandria and has worked with Jeff Buben at Vidalia and Bistro Bis. Mr. Beauchamp has promised to keep the rack of lamb, oyster stew and Nantucket scallops on the menu.

Charlie Palmer (101 Constitution Ave. NW; 202/547-8100) started a promotion of wines from each state, in alphabetical order, that is offered each Wednesday. It is Arizona today and Arkansas next week. The wines are available by the glass or bottle.

SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

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