Aphrodisiac dishes to spark Valentine romance

To get in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, consider roasted oysters with Champagne “avgolemono” and Russian Ossetra caviar at Kyma. CONTRIBUTED BY MIA YAKEL

To get in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, consider roasted oysters with Champagne “avgolemono” and Russian Ossetra caviar at Kyma. CONTRIBUTED BY MIA YAKEL

In my pre-pubescent years of the early ’80s, my childhood best friend and I used to cackle-laugh over certain fashion trends that seemed to hold an attraction for “the ladies.” We lumped waning ’70s fads like leisure suits and butt-hugger Adidas running shorts along with the mustache of rising star Tom Selleck into what we called the “come closer” look.

Meter collars and thick mustachios don’t make me swoon these days any more than they did three decades ago, but food? Now, that’s a way to my heart.

So that begs the question of what to eat to heat things up. Oysters and almonds, honey and ginger, asparagus, beets, artichokes, strawberries — these foods all have a reputation for bringing on bedroom eyes whether for their color or shape, or because they contain agents that stimulate mood elevation.

What not to eat? Beans, black licorice, cheese, coffee and red meat are a few edibles purported to kill the mood. And, while I’m not a doctor, an over-stuffed belly has proved a sure way to snore as soon as head meets pillow.

So, in the best-intentions spirit of Valentine’s Day, here are a few dishes around Atlanta that might just get you in the mood to come closer. (Cackle. Cackle.)

Roasted oysters with Champagne “avgolemono” and Russian Ossetra caviar at Kyma. Add to the atmosphere with glasses of the Greek sparkling white, Ode Panos. CONTRIBUTED BY MIA YAKEL

icon to expand image

Oysters. It is said that the 18th-century Italian lover Casanova breakfasted on 50 oysters to sustain his macho man abilities. Are oysters really an aphrodisiac? Well, a 2005 study by a team of American and Italian scientists concluded that bivalve mollusks, which include oysters, are high in amino acids that trigger the production of testosterone in males and progesterone in females. Raw oysters stimulate the libido more than cooked ones, noted the science folks.

Get your fix: For souped-up, still sensuous — but cooked — oysters, head to Kyma and order the roasted oysters topped with a foam that combines the minerality and fizz of Champagne with the tangy Greek lemon soup avgolemono. Make it more 007-alluring with Russian black caviar. Take it over the top with a glass of the Greek sparkling white, Ode Panos. (Kyma, 3085 Piedmont Road, Buckhead. 404-262-0702, buckheadrestaurants.com/restaurant/kyma/.)

Garlic. Yes, garlic can make your breath stink. However, it is high in allicin, a compound that can help stimulate circulation and blood flow to, um, the nether parts.

Get your fix: Garlic crab is a specialty at newly opened Kelz Crabhouse in Vine City just west of the Mercedez-Benz Stadium. While you can order blue crabs, I'm partial to the snow crabs, especially in the low-country boil with corn on the cob, boiled potatoes and turkey sausage.

If you're spending Valentine's Day at home and are wearing "come closer" attire, call on Uber Eats for delivery from this takeout-only crab shack. And while you're at it, get a side of Kelz's moist-not-dry hush puppies. FYI, tying a bib around your neck to eat garlic-studded crab legs could kill the mood. (Kelz Crabhouse, 899 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Atlanta. 404-698-3252, Facebook: Kelz Crabhouse.) UPDATE: Kelz Crabhouse is now closed.

Figs are among those foods considered to have aphrodisiac qualities. Figs are the focal on the fig pizza at Fire Stone Wood Fired & Pizza Grill in Woodstock. The pie is also topped with a shallot marmalade, prosciutto, mozzarella and blue cheeses and fresh arugula. LIGAYA FIGUERAS / LFIGUERAS@AJC.COM

icon to expand image

Figs. The fig is just too much. The erotic shape. The innumerable seeds. The leaves! They served as clothing for the Bible's First Couple, for goodness' sake. Few fruits are as sensuous as a ripe, plump, purple-hued fig. It doesn't even need help from a drizzle of aphrodisiac-inducing honey.

Get your fix: Alas, it's hard to find fresh figs this time of year, but the fig pizza at Fire Stone Wood Fired Pizza & Grill in Woodstock is chock-full of this fruit. Besides red wine-marinated figs, this pie is topped with mozzarella and blue cheeses, prosciutto and shallot marmalade, baked in the wood-fired oven, then dressed with a handful of green arugula. It's only available at dinner. (Fire Stone Wood Fired Pizza & Grill, 120 Chambers St., Woodstock. 770-926-6778, firestonerestaurants.com.)

The avocado, with its sensuous pear shape, has a aphrodisiac reputation. Spark romance with a savory avocado smoothie from Lee’s Bakery on Buford Highway. LIGAYA FIGUERAS / LFIGUERAS@AJC.COM

icon to expand image

Avocados. Like the fig, the avocado holds an alluring shape. The Aztecs heartily believed this fruit to have aphrodisiac qualities, so much so that the Nahuatl name for avocado, "ahuácatl," means testicle.

Get your fix: Grab an avocado smoothie at Vietnamese spot Lee's Bakery on Buford Highway. You can order this with or without tapioca balls. An avocado smoothie and a couple of banh mis from Lee's sound like a decent Netflix kind of night. (Lee's Bakery, 4005 Buford Highway N.E., Atlanta. 404-728-1008, Facebook: Lee's Bakery.)

You might want to split the Banana Bomb at Muss & Turner’s with your valentine. CONTRIBUTED

icon to expand image

Bananas. Shape aside, who knew bananas had such a steamy reputation? They contain an amino acid called tryptophan, which the body metabolizes into serotonin, the hormone that helps maintains a balanced mood. Bananas also have magnesium, vitamin B and potassium, all of which help increase energy levels.

Get your fix: Split the Banana Bomb at Muss & Turner's with your valentine. This dense baseball-sized dessert is comprised of three layers of banana-coconut bread separated by two layers of banana-flavored cream cheese icing, the whole thing coated in more icing and rolled in coconut flakes. Valentine's Day is the night to enjoy it at Eleanor's, the secluded backroom speakeasy adjacent to Muss & Turner's that shares the same menu. (Muss & Turner's, 1675 Cumberland Parkway S.E., Smyrna. 770-434-1114, mussandturners.com.)

See how to make the Banana Bomb here:

On Valentine’s Day, all Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams shops will serve a “Study in Chocolate,” a trio of Roxbury Road, Darkest Chocolate and Milkiest Chocolate scoops crowned with a crisp, heart-shaped waffle. CONTRIBUTED BY JENI’S SPLENDID ICE CREAMS

icon to expand image

Chocolate. Ah, chocolate, king of aphrodisiacs. Why does chocolate make us "come closer"? It contains phenethylamine, a stimulant (often found in higher levels among newlyweds), and tryptophan (more prevalent in dark chocolate), which helps with the production of serotonin. And there might be something about that bit of caffeine to keep us awake just enough.

Get your fix: On Valentine's Day, all Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams shops are serving a "Study in Chocolate," a trio of chocolate scoops — Darkest Chocolate, Milkiest Chocolate and Roxbury Road, of milk chocolate ice cream with smoked almonds, marshmallows and caramel sauce — garnished with a heart-shaped waffle. (Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, multiple locations. jenis.com.)

If a tavern is more your style, hit up Two Birds Taphouse, which opened last summer off Marietta Square, and order the Cast-Iron S'Mores a la Mode. It's served in two mini cast-iron pans: one holding the "s'mores" part — a warm, brownie-like chocolate-bacon-walnut cookie topped with dark chocolate stout ganache and torched marshmallow fluff — and the "a la mode" partner of dark chocolate ice cream flecked with cocoa nibs and kosher salt. After all, a good relationship is built on sharing and compromise. (Two Birds Taphouse, 52 Powder Springs St., Marietta. 678-324-7205, twobirdstaphouse.com.)

Make the Muss & Turner’s Banana Bomb at home. Get the recipe at myajc.com/food.

More ways to trick out your Valentine’s Day:

Ayurvedic herbs can spice things up for Valentine’s Day

5 restaurants to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Atlanta

6 ways to eat free or cheap on Valentine’s Day in Atlanta