Appetite for Seduction
Shani Castri, The Sensual Cooking Diva
The Museum of Sex
July 19, 2005
Written by Yolanda Shoshana
Photographed by Ramon Estevanell
With so many great places from which to order “take-out” in this city, is there ever a good a reason to stand in front of a hot stove? But after many nights of ordering in, Shani Castri, The Sensual Cooking Diva, gave me an arousing reason to dust off my cookbooks.
Castri is the founder of Appetite for Seduction, cooking classes that are intended to inspire romance with a special someone. Every ingredient used during the class is an aphrodisiac (a food or drug that promotes sexual desire). Whether aphrodisiacs are a fact or myth, they sure can make cooking a sensual experience.
I attended "Cooking in the Raw" held at The Museum of Sex. Light jazz music filled the air and erotic photos covered the walls. When I looked at Castri, I could see why she is The Sensual Cooking Diva. She is an attractive dark haired beauty oozing with charm and personality. She was wearing a lightly colored flowing shirt, heels and a sexy apron which she herself designed.
To get our palates started, Castri began the demonstration by preparing a
"Spicy Ginger and Mint Rum Spritzer". The taste of the mint and ginger, with just a touch of rum, was refreshing.
Next we learned how to make “Seductive Ceviche all’Italiana ". The dish is a mix of seafood, celery, and chickpeas and a hearty sauce called salsa verde. (The salsa verde was similar to a pesto sauce). As she prepared the food, Castri would tell us facts about aphrodisiacs and cutting techniques. Castri told us that celery is an aphrodisiac. She also told us the fun fact that the Romans believed that if they could sneak a stalk of celery under a pregnant women's bed, she would have a boy.
A seductive meal is not complete without a sweet and spicy dish. Castri showed us how to make the "Intense Cucumber Soup with Bright Watermelon Salad". The soup was a delightful mix of spicy and sweet flavors. The sweet flavor of the soup came from the water melon and the spice flavor came from a few drops of spicy olive oil.
The last dish was the "Sweet Melon Tartare" with a coconut sorbet drizzled with a Moscoto (a sparkling white wine). The dish was superb. The fruit was a mix of watermelon, honey dew melon and cantaloupe topped with a sprig of mint. The Moscoto brought out the rich sweet flavor in the fruit.
Castri caught us off guard she asked the class what our food fantasies are. Some of the fantasies included chocolate sauce, seafood and peaches and cream. I then realized that I had a food fantasy of which I had been theretofore unaware. I imagined Law and Order's Jesse L. Martin feeding me a decadent chocolate cake. Castri gave me accolades for my food fantasy.
One of the best pieces of advice that Castri gave the class was that each person has their own personal aphrodisiac. Whatever your partner likes, that is what you make for them. That sounds yummy to me.