Valentines Q&A

In Q&A, Tips and Adviceby Robert Irvine

Once again I asked my friends on my facebook page if they had any questions involving Valentine’s Day for me to address. Below are a few that I thought deserved some attention!

The Romantic Picnic

Eric Asks:
If you were going to pack a picnic basket for a romantic picnic, what would you put in it?

Answer:
On a romantic picnic you want to focus on food that can be shared and doesn’t require a lot of work to consume while you are actually enjoying the picnic. Having to break the mood of the moment with getting out plates and dishing out spoonfuls of this and that can really be a distraction when you should be focused on your significant other. In all actuality, food should be secondary to a romantic picnic. That is why I would suggest sticking to chilled finger foods like: a small cheese board with breads and charcuterie, veggies and flatbreads with hummus or other dips, or even an antipasto platter. Some chocolate-dipped strawberries (see my suggestions on that in the next question) are a great sweet treat for a picnic. Whatever you choose, it should be something that can idly be noshed on while appreciating your partner and your surroundings. Oh! and don’t forget the wine!!

Sweets For Your Sweetie

Shaun Asks:
Any tips on making good chocolate covered strawberries?

Answer:
Perfect chocolate dipped strawberries can be easy when you focus on these two things: quality ingredients and procedure. It’s a shame that Valentines day, and thus the highest demand for strawberries, has to fall in the dead of winter when the berries are not at their peak. Regardless, finding a good strawberry to use will make ALL the difference. Florida or California strawberries are good. In my opinion you can’t beat Ponchatoula berries but they are hard to find. Look for strawberries that are fully-ripe with no “white shoulders.” Selecting the best chocolate is also incredibly important. Don’t skimp on quality here!! America is great at a lot of things, but in the chocolate world, Germans and Swiss take top billing. Vosges is a great American chocolate producer but also can be difficult to find.

Procedure: Rinse the strawberries and pat them dry. Make sure they are completely dry and allow them to come to room temperature prior to dipping!!! This is key otherwise you end up with a sweaty strawberry that won’t allow the chocolate to stick properly. Slowly melt your chocolate in a double-boiler or bain marie. If you don’t have one of those handy you can melt the chocolate in a Pyrex bowl over a pot with water on medium heat stirring frequently, but gently, with a rubber spatula. My secret is to fold in a small touch of olive oil once the chocolate is melted. This gives the strawberries a nice sheen once they are done. Dip the berries one at a time in the chocolate letting the excess chocolate drip off before placing them on wax paper or some other non-stick lining. At this point you can decorate with whatever you like (nuts, white chocolate swizzle, etc.) Let them cool at room temp before either serving or refrigerating. If you like a nice crisp berry with a chocolate “snap” then refrigerate. If you like a smoother texture, then leave at room temp.

Long Distance Love

Susan Asks:
I read somewhere that you spend 300+ days a year on the road. How do you handle that and maintain a relationship?

Answer:

It is true that I have a very demanding travel schedule and lifestyle that comes with the show and all of my various appearances and events. Luckily for me, the love of my life is also an entertainer and spends more than one hundred days on the road. This means that we both understand and identify with the lifestyle of the “road warrior.” Unluckily for both of us, it’s often hard to find time when we are both at home. We make every effort to try to get our road schedules to intersect at every opportunity that we can. That’s why you’ll often see pictures tweeted of Gail on the set of Restaurant: Impossible or me backstage at an wrestling match. It helps that we love our own jobs but also that we love the work that the other does. We take pleasure in our each others accomplishments and are proud to see the other achieving great things. The most important thing is that when we do have time without the distractions of work and the road, that we make the most out of every moment together. The same goes for ANY relationship. There are so many distractions with work and life but you MUST find time (even if it’s small moments) to make your partner your sole focus so they truly understand how you feel for them and to show your appreciation for having them in your life. 
 
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