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Sweethearts, strawberries and Strauss in Courtenay

There’s nothing like An Affair in the Afternoon to tempt chef Oblenis out of retirement.

There's nothing like An Affair in the Afternoon to tempt chef Oblenis out of retirement.

The former owner of Paddios will be dipping hundreds of strawberries into melted chocolate and piling blueberries, apples, cherries and lemon into tiny tart shells. She'll also bake scores of lavender shortbread.

All this, and more, is on the desert menu for a Valentine's Day tea dance to be held at the Native Sons Hall on Feb. 12.

"We'll also be offering brownies 'with a twist,' " adds Paddy, who will work until the wee hours to ensure each treat is fresh and absolutely perfect.

This is the second year the Strathcona Symphony Orchestra will serenade lovers and friends with the soothing strains of Strauss. The afternoon affair is sure to foster visions of the Old World elegance of last-century Austrian society.

"I've developed a romantic program for this year's event," says Maestra Pippa Williams. "It's a lovely collection of waltzes and polkas."

Expect to hear The Blue Danube, Thousand and One Nights and the Emperor Waltz among other glorious Strauss standards. Ms. Williams' selections will please those who want to twirl on the dance floor and also those who prefer to sit back and just listen to beautiful, timeless music.

As with last year's event, two professional ballroom dance couples will showcase the Viennese Waltz. Parksville couple Stephen Gower and partner Elaine Thomson, and Valley residents John Burke and Doreen Thomson are competitive dancers with shelves of medals and trophies.

"I began dancing five years ago," says Doreen. "I love the movement, the speed, the music and the social connection. And, my dance partner is now also my sweetheart."

Stephen and Elaine began competing six years ago.

"At first, it was the scariest thing. I was filled with trepidation," says Stephen, a former exploration geologist. "In Europe and Asia, men like to dance, but here they see it differently. Perhaps it's because men don't like being looked at. Now I'm hooked. Dancing is my passion."

As another special treat, tenor Robyn Cathcart, whose career has taken him throughout Canada, the United States and Europe, will sing three love songs. These include the haunting Hymne á L'Amour, a signature song of Edith Piaf.

She wrote and recorded the song in 1950 as a tribute to her lover, French boxer Marcel Cerdan, who died two years earlier in a plane crash.

A Plácido Domingo favorite, Core n' Grato, will also be on the program. Cathcart's third piece, You Raise Me Up, echoes the stirring melody of Danny Boy and has been recorded by Josh Groban.

Last year's Affair sold out.

"We are expecting the same enthusiasm this year," says Michele Morton, president of the Strathcona Symphony Orchestra volunteer board. "It's going to be a spectacular afternoon. Imagine dancing to a 60-piece orchestra!"

Ensure your seats now for the Strathcona Symphony Orchestra's An Affair to Remember on Feb. 12 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Native Sons Hall. Tickets are available from Long and McQuade in Courtenay, Blue Heron Books and Video's & More in Comox.

For Information or tickets by phone, contact Michele Morton at 250-331-0158.

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