Valentine's Day is today and we're feeling romantic. So is Aleric "AJ" Constantin. You might know him as the Cycling Chef or Sear'N Gears, as his company is called. He normally keeps it cool with his ice cream fare, but he's decided to heat things up for the most romantic day of the year with a pop-up, six-course dinner at his very own place. He's already fully booked for the intimate affair, which includes five couples, priced at $85 a couple. AJ is sharing the love though by adding on one last couple to the mix, for free. That could be you.
See also: Valentine's Day Dinners in Miami
If you haven't seen him pedaling around the monthly Critical Mass delivering all-natural ice cream flavors you might have seen him at Mandolin Aegean Bistro, where he currently works, as does his pop-up partner and sous chef Camilo Blanco, who's cooked at Eating House and Pubbelly. The two hope to turn this into a regular monthly series.
Dinner includes all sorts of aphrodisiacs. Oysters with yuzu caviar, shallots, toasted panko and lemonbalm gets your night started off "feeling right." Then passion fruit salad with strawberries, ginger and shaved dark chocolate. Cupid might strike with the arrowed hearts, word play for pan-seared chicken hearts with a pomegranate chili glaze, pickled pomegranates and a touch of mint. And if you're all about breaking rules, the forbidden fruit bursts with all kinds of indulgence -- wine-poached apples, brie and bacon filling, mariquita chips and spicy cinnamon drizzle. "Sexy" scallops feature a blood orange-caper tapenade and white chocolate bur blanc. It's all served with a fresh greens and flower bouquet.
And for dessert, AJ does what he does best: nitrogen-infused chocolate strawberries with champagne sorbet and candy hearts. And, yes, wine is included. To set the mood, local artist GG has painted a nice little mural in the back. And there will be candles, mood lighting, and maybe a DJ. More than anything though, this is about the vibe and the food. True hipsters making a homemade meal at home and with love.
AJ lives in the Design District, and he's got a brick pizza oven in the backyard. "It came with the house," he says. The chef isn't scared to cook out of his home either, even though he got arrested back in July for selling ice cream on his bike without a permit. "I got really lucky. After I moved in I found out that my house is actually both residential and commercial property."
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Dinner begins tonight at 8 p.m., but the contest begins now. To enter, just leave your name and email at the bottom of the post. We will choose a winner by 3 p.m.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha