The drinks to share with someone special

What does romance mean anyhow? It’s a perennial question that pops up at this time of year. Personally, Valentine’s Day brings out both the cynic and the hopeless romantic in me. I worked too long front-of-house in restaurants not to have my inner cynic rally in mid-February. And yet, as a lover of gastronomy, I’m a sucker for the emotional potency of sharing something special, even if that’s just an appreciation shared with the professionals who are serving you.

recently had what was one of the most romantic meals of my life — and I enjoyed it as a solo diner. The only other diners in the intimate four-table dining room were four girlfriends on a gal-pal date. I was there as a guest of the Michelin-starred Corral de la Morería restaurant ahead of a visit to Madrid Fusion gastronomy symposium, and my evening combined several of my favourite things in this world. An extraordinary flight of sherries, ranging from bright young Fino to ancient Amontillados Viejas that were born before my grandparents and have lived longer lives. These were paired with a seafood-heavy tasting menu, with dishes so exquisite that I wanted to slow time down — like just-cooked squid ‘noodles’ in an umami-rich, slightly spiced squid broth with lime zest and lemon peel, shiso leaf and crisp-fried tentacles, paired with the complexity of Equipo Navazos’s La Bota 27 de Fino ‘Macharnudo Alto’ (whose older sibling, La Bota no 35, is in Celtic Whiskey Shop for €30.99). And finally, a live performance of incredible passion from some of today’s best flamenco talents.

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