‘Tis the season to be soppy – that’s right, Valentine’s Day will soon be upon us. And with Valentine’s Day comes food: romantic meals and tables for two. But there is more to love-filled food than chocolate-covered strawberries and oysters, making it the perfect theme for our latest World on a Plate challenge.

When we think of romantic cuisine, two particular countries spring to mind: Italy and France. These countries are renowned for a wealth of delicious dishes that’d make the perfect accompaniment to Valentine’s Day. If you’re spoilt for choice or need a pinch of inspiration, read on…

Italian passion

Caprese Salad
You can throw in a Lady and the Tramp-style spaghetti kiss if you want, but simply the food from vibrant and varied Italy is enough to get pulses racing.

For starters, prepare your palette with something fresh and light. Caprese salad, for instance: a simple plate of sliced tomatoes and mozzarella, basil leaves, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
Seafood

Next, why not try a true taste of the Italian coast? Spaghetti con frutti di mare (seafood spaghetti) is another simple dish that doesn’t scrimp on flavour. Grab some spaghetti, mixed shellfish, olive oil, garlic, chillies, white wine and parsley, and you’re good to go. Just make sure that the shellfish is as fresh as possible!

Of course, if seafood isn’t a shared passion, you could always fall back on that Italian classic, risotto. Use mushrooms of different varieties to create deep, complex flavours, coupled with white wine and rich parmesan.

Homemade Cheesecake

And to finish off proceedings? Baked almond cheesecake is the perfect finale for a romantic Italian feast. Incorporating ingredients like amoretti biscuits, ricotta and vanilla, it’s a creamy dessert that’ll make your taste buds dance.

A taste of l’amour

Mushroom Gratin
Italy isn’t the only romantic nation vying for couples’ Valentine’s Day affections. There is also France, home to the ‘language of love’. (And, we would argue, the food of love). Just like Italy, France is home to countless dishes that are perfect for a night of Valentine’s romance.

French cuisine has a reputation for being complicated to recreate, but there are plenty of simple dishes you could whip up for our World on a Plate ‘Love’ challenge. Baked camembert and moules marinières both make great sharing starters, while if you’re a couple who respects one another’s space, there is always the delicious Franco-Russian crab and mushroom gratin.

Dish

To follow, why not try your hand at beef bourguignon? It’s the kind of dish you can leave in a slow cooker to do its thing before you sit down, leaving plenty of time to take it easy with your partner. Beef, red wine, garlic, carrots and mushrooms create a hearty dish rich with continental aromas – well worth the wait!

Homemade

Finally, a romantic French meal wouldn’t be complete without a dessert of crème brûlée. Deceptively easy to make, smooth, creamy, and deliciously sweet, there is no better way to round off your time at the dinner table.

Will you be trying your hand at French or Italian cuisine for our World on a Plate ‘Love’ challenge? Let us know which country you think wins in the romance stakes, and don’t forget to tag us on your social platforms using #expediaworldonaplate. We can’t wait to see what you cook up!

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