#MyFoodieValentine Giveaway: That’s a Wrap!

Valentine’s Day is behind us (although you might not know it based on the amount of chocolate we’re still consuming), but before we bid a fond farewell to the most romantic day of the year, join us as we fete the My Foodie Valentine giveaway winners.

We received thousands of entries on Instagram and Twitter, ranging from pictures of delicious dishes to charming photos of the favorite foodie in your life. Congratulations, Danielle ThomasJhomalys MoranSharon GoughLauren SpinelliRosa NaranjoMarco Maurício MalkomesKwadwo BoatengLiliana SoileauChristina Copeland, and Lisa Nguyen.

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Thanks to everyone who entered, and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Google+Instagram, and Twitter for future giveaways.

OpenTable Seats a Record Two Million Diners in a Single Day

Chef and shift manager conversing after a mealWe are pleased to announce that OpenTable seated more than two million diners around the globe on Valentine’s Day, making it the highest volume day in our company’s history. Approximately half of the diners seated on Valentine’s Day booked via their mobile devices.

“It’s exciting to play a key role in helping more than two million diners around the globe find the perfect restaurant for Valentine’s Day,” said our own Matt Roberts, Chief Executive Officer of OpenTable. “Valentine’s Day is one of the most important, operationally-intensive days for our restaurant customers, and we’re incredibly proud to be an ingredient in the joy they bring to their guests on February 14th and throughout the year.”

Approximately 45 percent of these diners booked their reservations during the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, and more than 10 percent booked on Valentine’s Day, the day diners consulted OpenTable at a peak rate of 400 searches per second.

Culinary Couple Lee Chizmar + Erin Shea of Bolete Make the Most of Mondays

bolete photoWhen you blend two hospitality professionals with one successful restaurant and fold in two children, you’re not talking about a recipe that yields a ton of time for romance. Still, chef Lee Chizmar and general manager Erin Shea find ways to connect whenever they get the chance.

The owners of Bolete in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, Chizmar and Shea opened their restaurant in 2008 to a steady stream of accolades, and the acclaim has kept them busy ever since. Shea says, “Honestly with a restaurant and two kids under four, there isn’t a lot of room left for reconnecting. We have Mondays off together and try to make sure that we spend that as a family, leaving date nights to few and far between. Romantic for us is if I stay awake long enough to make a sandwich for my husband and share a bottle of wine.  Literally a turkey sandwich.  I know it isn’t glamourous, but it is life right now.”

Uncorking a bottle of wine — and arguing its merits — is a common way Chizmar and Shea sneak in quality couple time. “We will often open a great bottle of wine, even if it isn’t a special occasion. We actually have very different tastes in wine (he is a California boy and I love old world), so great debate and conversation often go into these late night wine dates.  And, really, us both being awake is the special occasion,” she says.

Before starting their family and opening the doors at Bolete, Chizmar and Shea, a couple for the last nine years, dined their way around the northeast. “When we were first together, all our free time was spent enjoying food and drink. In Boston, we would go out to eat every night after work. And, pre-kiddos, we spent a lot of time traveling to New York when the restaurant was closed.” Prune is a perennial favorite of the pair. “The food is so delicious and simple,” notes Shea. They also enjoy discovering different restaurants in Philadelphia. Chef Chizmar’s recent birthday was spent at Townsend. “The cocktail program there is a standout, and I highly recommend heading to their bar for a drink and a snack.”

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In the Mood: What to Drink While You Dine on Valentine’s Day

At Cinghiale-Enoteca, owner/sommelier Tony Foreman + his staff invite wine drinkers to sign the special bottles they’ve ordered. There are thousands displayed.

Step away from the Chardonnay. Put down the pinot noir. Think outside the bourbon. That is an order. Seriously, though, you’ve carefully thought through Valentine’s Day dinner, picking an amazing restaurant with the perfect menu for you and your date; don’t stop there. You can make the 14th extra special with an unforgettable beverage experience that is anything but everyday. Eric Arnold, a wine and spirits expert and author of First Big Crush: The Down and Dirty on Making Great Wine Down Under, a book about a novice’s winemaking experiences in New Zealand, shared his four must-try picks to sip this Saturday.

Amaro
“The spirit that was once the afterthought downed by tired waitstaff and line cooks in Italian restaurants has suddenly become hip – and it was long overdue. Sort of a lighter, more nuanced version of herbal liqueurs such as Fernet-Branca, Amaro is slightly sweet but ever so alluring. Usually consumed after dinner, but certainly appropriate before the appetizers, Amaro never fails to bring a smile to a first-timer’s face.”

Vintage Champagne
“It’s perfectly normal if you’ve sipped a glass of Yellow Label Veuve, Moët, or Mumm and wondered what all the fuss is about. Vintage Champagne – all the grapes were picked in the same season, and a year is visible on the label – is an entirely different experience, especially if the bottle is upwards of a decade old. Vintage Champagne sometimes is a little lighter on the effervescence, but all those extra years of cellar aging make the wine richer in texture, fuller in flavor, and multidimensional in character. These are also the bubblies you can drink right through an entire meal, as these Champagnes tend to pair better with a wider range of foods.”

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