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7 set-to-impress recipes from the world’s most romantic restaurants

Enrich your at-home date night with an alluring feast that will whisk you straight to these dream destinations

Lifestyle

Place the cordial, rose-scented geranium leaves and limes in a large pitcher and muddle well. Allow to rest in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours to infuse. Pour the mixture through a fine strainer and discard the geranium leaves and lime pieces. Pour the rum and lots of ice into a glass serving jug and top with the cordial mixture. Add chilled Babylonstoren Sprankel just before serving. Fill each glass with the cocktail and garnish as you like with fresh raspberries, cherries, white nectarine halves and rose petals.

Babylonstoren’s strawberry and rose mojito

250ml Babylonstoren plum and lemon cordial (or your favorite berry cordial)

1 handful washed rose-scented geranium leaves

4 limes, cut into quarters

250ml light rum

75cl bottle Babylonstoren Sprankel

1 handful each of raspberries, cherries, rose petals and white nectarine halves, to garnish

Raffles Maldives Meradhoo’s classic ceviche

Serves 4

400g good-quality fresh white fish fillet

3g Peruvian pink salt

1g white pepper

7g fresh garlic, chopped

5g fresh coriander, finely chopped

2g Peruvian Limo chili, finely chopped

50ml lime juice

20ml Dashi

10g red onion, julienned

For ceviche preparation, the most important thing is that the fresh fish is cut into cubes (1cm x 1cm). Place the fish in a bowl and mix in the salt, pepper, garlic, coriander and chili, before adding the lime juice and Dashi. Mix together thoroughly. Add the onions and serve immediately.

Tip: in warmer climes, you can use ice cubes to keep the fish at a low temperature.

For the poached smoked haddock: press the cloves into the onion, and then place the onion, bay leaf and milk into a small pan and bring to just below simmering on a low heat (make sure not to boil). Leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Break the haddock fillet into a few pieces and poach in the milk for 6-8 minutes (again, making sure not to boil). Remove the haddock from the milk with a slotted spoon and drain in a colander. Break the haddock into large flakes and put to one side, ready for use.

For the Hollandaise reduction: place all the Hollandaise reduction ingredients in a saucepan on the stove over a medium heat and reduce the liquid by half. Pass through a fine sieve and leave ready to make your Hollandaise. (Any leftover reduction can be stored in the fridge and used at a later date, or used in other cooking as a flavor enhancer.)

For the Hollandaise: first, melt the clarified butter (it must be warm to touch, but not hot) using a bain-marie. Have a pan about 1/3 full of water simmering on the stove. You will need a bowl bigger than the pan, so it does not touch the water, for a bain-marie.

Place your egg yolks and reduction in the bowl and put this over the pan of simmering water. Using a hand whisk, mix over the heat until it becomes thick (be very careful, as the eggs will cook quickly).

Remove from the heat and, while whisking, very slowly add the clarified butter. It is important you whisk vigorously and add the butter very slowly. It should naturally start to thicken.

Once all the butter is incorporated, season your Hollandaise with a little salt and cayenne pepper, and lemon juice if required.

For the Hollandaise glaze: take the above Hollandaise and fold through the cream and parmesan. Leave to one side.

For the omelette: you will need to work quickly! Heat the oil in a nonstick frying pan to a high heat. Add a little salt to your eggs but do not over-season, as the smoked haddock is already salty.

Pour the eggs into the pan and mix continuously until half cooked, then add the flaked smoked haddock and gently stir until three-quarters cooked. Quickly place half the mix into each serving bowl, leaving enough room to add your Hollandaise glaze. Cover with Hollandaise glaze, ensuring it goes all the way to the edges and is even.

Color until golden under a hot grill, then sprinkle chopped chives on top and serve.

The Wolseley’s omelette Arnold Bennett

Serves 2

For the poached smoked haddock

A small fillet of smoked haddock (ask the fishmonger to debone)

250ml milk

¼ white onion

2 cloves

½ bay leaf

For the Hollandaise reduction

200ml cooking white wine

200ml white wine vinegar

1 bay leaf

1 peeled and sliced shallot

5 black pepper corns

Leaves from 1 stalk of fresh tarragon, chopped

For the Hollandaise

180g clarified butter

2 egg yolks (medium eggs)

½ fresh lemon

Salt

Cayenne pepper

A little lemon juice (optional)

25ml of the Hollandaise reduction

For the Hollandaise glaze

30ml whipping cream

30g grated parmesan

For the omelette

6 large eggs, whisked

140g of the flaked poached smoked haddock

A little vegetable oil

Salt

A few chive sprigs, finely chopped

Le Sirenuse La Sponda’s tagliolini with funghi porcini

Serves 4

400g fresh tagliolini pasta

400g fresh porcini mushrooms, or 150g dried

2 cloves of garlic, unpeeled

Leaves from a few sprigs of thyme

A small knob of butter

Salt, pepper and olive oil

The first thing to decide is: do I make the pasta myself, or do I go out and buy it? We’ll leave you to make that call. Either way, we recommend good fresh pasta all’uovo, or egg-based pasta. Tagliolini are long, thin pasta strips that are popular both in the south of Italy and in Piedmont, where they are known as tajarin. They’re the same length as spaghetti, and about half the width of tagliatelle.

Having procured your tagliolini, turn your attention to the funghi porcini. If you were lucky enough to find fresh ones, don’t – whatever you do – let them anywhere near water, which they absorb like a sponge. First, set aside one especially fine specimen, then separate the stalk and cap of the others.

The muddy base should be cut off and any earth or plant debris on the stalk gently scraped off with a knife, which you can also use on the cap – though real purists will of course have a specially designed mushroom brush for this purpose. Once they’re clean, or near enough, dice the porcini into small cubes of 5mm or so. Cut the mushroom you kept aside into slices around half an inch thick (aim for one slice per person) and keep separate.

If you’re using dried porcini, which generally come in thin slices, pour hot water over them around half an hour before you plan to use them. Then, keeping aside the water (which makes great vegetable stock), chop them up as above, bearing in mind that you may not be able to achieve perfect cubes owing to the thin cut of the mushrooms.

In a heavy-bottomed frying pan, large enough to contain the pasta later, heat a slug of good olive oil (at least two tablespoonfuls), throw in the two unpeeled garlic cloves, add the diced mushrooms, sprinkle in the thyme leaves, season to taste, and fry on a medium heat for 8 minutes or so, until the porcini take on a golden tinge. At the same time, fry the four or more porcini slices you kept aside until they’re golden on each side.

The pasta cooking time depends on whether you’re using fresh or dried tagliolini. If the former, 3-4 minutes should be ample. When the tagliolini are almost ready, but still al dente, keep aside a cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta. Throw the drained pasta into the pan with the mushrooms, alongside a small knob of butter – which La Sponda chef Gennaro Russo uses to give a creaminess to the sauce, as fresh pasta is low in starch. Stir to amalgamate, on a low to medium heat, for another minute, then serve, coiled on each guest’s plate, topped with one each of the fried mushroom slices you kept aside earlier.

For the tomato sauce: blend the tomatoes, garlic and olives in a food processor and slowly add the olive oil until it is fully incorporated. The mix should be thick and cling to a spoon.

For the red mullet: cook the cabbage circles in boiling salted water for 2 minutes, then chill in iced water for 2 minutes; remove from the water and dab with absorbent paper to dry, then drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

For the mullet fillets, season with salt, pepper and drizzle with olive oil, then place them against the sliced bread so the flesh side touches the bread, leaving the red skin side on display.

In a hot pan with oil, add the bread and mullet fillets with the bread side down, and cook until the bread is crisp and golden. Remove from the pan and place on a baking tray, bread side down, and cook at 180⁰C for 5 minutes.

Once cooked, remove from the oven and drizzle with olive oil, then grate some lemon zest over the top. Allow to rest for 2 minutes.

Place the cabbage circle in the oven for 2 minutes, just to warm it up, while the fish is resting.

Start to build up the dish with the cabbage on the bottom, then the bread and fish. Spoon mounds of the tomato sauce on top of the fish, arrange the caper berries and cress on top of the sauce, and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.

The Petersham’s red mullet in crosta di pane with olives, tomato and savoy cabbage

For the tomato sauce

100g sun-dried tomatoes

30g peeled garlic

50g pitted black olives

35g olive oil

For the red mullet

2 red mullet fillets, descaled and deboned

2 savoy cabbage leaves, cut into 9cm circles

Thinly sliced sourdough bread, crusts removed, and bread trimmed to roughly same size as the mullet

Red sorrel cress (if not available, substitute with picked dill and/or picked chervil leaves)

3 caper berries, cut in half

Tomato sauce (from above)

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Gleneagles’ wild venison, cherry and chocolate

Serves 4

For the venison bon bon and sauce

500g venison haunch

Rapeseed oil, for cooking

50g chopped carrot

50g diced onion

50g chopped celery

1 sprig thyme

1 clove garlic

1 bay leaf

750ml red wine

Breadcrumbs, to coat the venison bon bons

10g Guanaja chocolate

Salt and pepper

For the cherry compote

250g sour cherries, pitted

60g caster sugar

5g sherry vinegar

60g cherry puree

For the chocolate emulsion

50g Guanaja 70% chocolate

18g cocoa powder

40g rapeseed oil

10g hazelnut oil

For the mashed potato

300g potatoes, peeled

400ml water

10g salt

75g butter

For the savoy cabbage

1 head of savoy cabbage

Salt

For the venison

800g venison loin, all silver skin removed, trim reserved for sauce

100g unsalted butter, melted

3 sprigs thyme

Salt and pepper, for seasoning

Rapeseed oil, for frying

For the venison bon bon and sauce: first, prepare the sauce and venison bon bon. In a hot pan, color off the venison haunch with a little oil. Remove the meat from the pan once it is caramelized all over. Add the carrot, onion and celery to the pan and cook until they are browned. Add the meat back to the pan, along with the herbs and enough wine to cover the ingredients. Place a lid on the pan and cook in the oven at 150°C for 2 hours. Once cooked, allow the meat to cool in the cooking juices.

Once the meat is cool, prepare the bon bons. Shred the meat in a bowl, discarding any fat and sinew, and then add a little wine. Season to taste, then roll into 20g balls. Coat each bon bon in breadcrumbs and deep-fry until golden brown.

In the pan with the cooked vegetables and meat juices, add the remaining wine to make the sauce. Grate in the chocolate and then keep warm until you’re ready to serve.

For the cherry compote: quarter the cherries and add to a pan with the sugar, vinegar and puree. Cook slowly until the cherries are soft and the base of the pan is dry.

For the chocolate emulsion: mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and melt over a bain-marie. Once the ingredients are fully combined, emulsify the mixture with an electric hand blender.

For the mashed potato: cook the potatoes in the salted water. Drain the water and allow the potatoes to dry out. Pass the potatoes through a drum sieve or potato ricer, then whisk in the butter. Pass the mash through the sieve again to ensure the mixture is completely smooth.

For the savoy cabbage: chop the cabbage very finely, then blanch in boiling salted water. Once cooked, refresh in iced water and drain thoroughly.

For the venison: season the meat all over with salt and pepper. In a hot roasting tray, color the seasoned loin of venison in a little oil. Make sure to evenly sear the venison on all sides. Add the butter and thyme to the pan and baste the loin until it’s medium rare (this should take approximately 8 minutes). Continue to turn the loin regularly as it cooks. Once cooked, rest the meat on a cooling wire and then carefully pour over the butter. Let the meat stand for 10 minutes before carving.

To plate, use a pastry brush to paint a single stripe of chocolate emulsion across the plate. Pipe the mashed potato onto the plate. Place the cabbage on the chocolate stripe and top with three slices of the rested venison loin. Quenelle the cherry compote on to the plate. Spoon the chocolate sauce around the meat and serve.

Peel the pears and cut them lengthwise into four pieces. Place the mustard powder, mustard seeds, sugar, honey and cinnamon in a saucepan. Add the water and bring it to the boil. When the liquid has reduced slightly, add the pear pieces, then simmer for 15 minutes over a moderate heat, covered for the first 5 minutes. Arrange the pear pieces while still warm on plates, with a dessertspoon of cheese beside each. Serve with the syrup mixture from the pan drizzled over them.

Castello di Vicarello’s pere al caramello con robiola o caprine (caramelized pears with robiola or caprino cheese)

Serves 4

2 pears

100g robiola or caprino (goat) cheese

1 tsp mustard powder

1 tsp mustard seeds

150g sugar

2 tsp honey

1 cinnamon stick

450ml water