"I don't cook with salt." I've heard this refrain many times from people who have high blood pressure. I picture them slurping down tasteless soups and suffering through bland steaks, and am happy for my own salt shaker at home.

Live Cattle futures is the most liquid and actively traded of the meat complex. ("active and liquid" go hand in hand) Live cattle have a dominant ten-year cycle. This rhythm slow cooker pork belly has occurred like clockwork over the decades. Many major lows have occurred when this cycle was due to bottom. This past year the cycle has flipped phase to a high rather than a low, which is indicative of a major top forming. Indeed, cattle has set major historic highs on this ten year cycle. Many lows and highs occur in April-May time frame. Keep an eye on the market during this time period.

Italian coppa is not imported to the United States, but that's okay. Coppa (and its cousin, capocolla) are such popular Italian pork belly jewel, that some good domestic alternatives have been developed and are available at many markets, butcher shops and specialty stores. The meat should be rosy pink ONLY. Not brown, not rust colored and not black. If the color is not right, don't buy it. If the coloring is good, look for a solid piece of meat with moderate marbling (slivers of fat running through the lean). Coppa is made from the muscle cut from the shoulder of the pig, right behind the pig's neck. It's seasoned (with salt, pepper, cinnamon, clove and/or nutmeg), rolled and stuffed into a casing. Coppa is not a smoked meat, but air cured for three or four months.

Since I've moved to DC, my only experience with Korean BBQ has been a little food vendor at 14th and L that sells bulgogi. (After a quick wiki search, I find that bulgogi means "fire meat" in Korean.) Bulgogi is only one of the varieties of meats offered at Honey Pig -- others include slow cooked pork belly in the slow cooker, short ribs, brisket, chicken, and octopus. I've tried all of these, and each one has impressed.

Considering that the contestants were not allowed to take advantage of their veteran helper's vast knowledge base, one has to wonder what the point was of having them there at all. If they were meant to shake things up by unhinging the contestants, that really didn't happen. Everyone appeared to work slow cooked pork belly in perfect harmony. And I'll admit I loved watching the real Top Chefs take orders instead of giving them.

When you walk in, you are greeted with friendly faces and the service is fast, especially for the hurried lunch crowd. But that might be because most people already know what to order when they walk in through the door. It is the ramen. The only question is whether to order the full size, or the half sized (note: half size is not half the price). The price for a full serving is $8.50.

Don't let this Valentines Day get away from you like last year did, follow between 1 and 5 of the above steps plus the special tip and you will be on your way to a fantastic Valentines Day celebration. Be sure to follow up each gift with plenty of kisses and longing gazes and make this one to remember.