The Hot List Valentine's Day edition: Aphrodisiac desserts, chocolate bark, fig liqueur and flying solo

Chocolate bark by Hungry Happenings.
Chocolate bark by Hungry Happenings.  Photo: Supplied

We're eating… Zumbo's aphrodisiac desserts

Pink, Turkish delight and rose scented treats from Zumbo will get your Valentine in the mood. Especially when they come with a bottle of Heilala Vanilla massage oil - free with all purchases of special edition Valentine's Day cakes (from $10). Available across Melbourne and Sydney stores.

Zumbo's aphrodisiac desserts.

Zumbo's aphrodisiac desserts. Photo: Supplied

We're drinking… Esprit de Figues

Figs have been associated with sex, love and fertility for centuries, largely because they resemble certain parts of the anatomy. But don't let that distract you from Esprit de Figues (RRP $49.99), a liqueur made from fresh Bordeaux figs that's bottled following a three-month infusing process at a 150-year old distillery in Burgundy. Pour a splash of the purple potion into bubbles, use it in cocktails or learn from the experts using it at Rockpool. Available at Dan Murphy's, recipes via

We're watching… I Am Love

Released back in 2010, this Italian romance starring Tilda Swinton will make you teary, hungry and horny – but not necessarily in that order. Set in Milan, it follows the story of Emma Recchi (Swinton), a Russian woman married into an aristocratic Italian family. During a birthday celebration, she meets Antonio, a chef. After a few more encounters, including a memorable scene where Emma has a Harry-met-Sally moment with a prawn, they have a passionate affair. Search for it at

We're reading… Delicieux by Gabriel Gaté 

France and romance go together like crusty baguettes and oozy camembert, which makes Delicieux by Loire Valley native Gabriel Gaté the perfect Valentine's Day gift. With more than 200 recipes collected from his French travels, the dishes range from delicate Normandy seafood to the Mediterranean-slanted fare of Provence. Flick through and cook a February 14 feast: cheese fondue les Alpages, grilled duck from the Languedoc region (a Philippe Mouchel recipe) and Brittany crepes with strawberries.

The cookbook of love.

The cookbook of love. Photo: Supplied

We're loving… Queue skipping with a conscience

Last week the Valentine's Day advanced-planners jumped online and bid for hard-to-get tables at some of Australia's top restaurants (think Momofuku Seiobo in Sydney and Minamishima in Melbourne). The winners scored themselves a table, bottle of wine and meal for two tonight, with all proceeds donated to the Hunger Project Australia. The programs empower poor and marginalised people in Africa, India and Bangladesh to become self-reliant in an attempt to break the poverty cycle. Keep up to date here:

We're cooking with… Hearts

For the home cook who has everything, Le Creuset products are a safe bet. Splurge on your sweetheart with a 1.9-litre cast iron casserole dish in the shape of a heart ($449) or avoid blowing the budget and opt for a pair of 300ml heart ramekins ($45). For something less pink, the navy heart collector's edition dip plate from West Elm stores is an affordable choice ($10).,

How sweet is this special edition dinnerware?

How sweet is this special edition dinnerware? Photo: Supplied

We're craving… Chocolate bark

Chocolate "bark" – thin shards of decorative chocolate – is a lot easier to make than it looks. Melt chocolate buttons of your choice and spread evenly over an oven tray lined with greased baking paper. Drizzle with white chocolate (add a few drops of red food colouring or beetroot juice to turn it pink) and decorate as desired. Allow to set partially, then cut into pieces using a sharp knife while still soft. Refrigerate until completely set. Check out Hungry Happenings for some inspiration:

We're loving… Solo options

Singles, ditch that tub of Neapolitan ice-cream and hit the town tonight. In Sydney, the Merivale group has taken on the role of wingman with a "Coogee Be My Valentine?" party at Coogee Rooftop (expect bubbles, speed-dating and a kissing booth), $3 tacos from 11am until late at El Loco at Slip Inn and a round of Veuve Clicquot on arrival at Ms G's for bookings of six or more. In Melbourne, Yukie's Snack Bar next to Mr Miyagi is hosting a single ladies night with cocktails, frosé, tacos and Beyonce-esque beats.

Feeling down about love? Head up to the Rooftop.

Feeling down about love? Head up to Coogee Rooftop. Photo: Supplied