Recommendations for chocolate, aphrodisiacs, and spirits, please.
February 5, 2005 10:35 AM   Subscribe

We're throwing a party in a few weeks, loosely themed around fine chocolates, aphrodisiacs, and spirits/wine that would naturally accompany such. Any recommendations, especially for fine chocolates?
posted by docpops to Shopping (37 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I like Scharffen Berger.
posted by sled at 10:44 AM on February 5, 2005

everytime someone asks about chocolate, i recommend vosges. yummy. many interesting tastes. very high quality. i've never had a problem with loss of quality when having them shipped.

oprah approved!
posted by crush-onastick at 10:56 AM on February 5, 2005

Slate recently did a comparison of gourmet chocolates ordered online. My personal favorite is Demel, but their English website seems to be on the fritz.
posted by amber_dale at 10:57 AM on February 5, 2005

Teuscher's Champagne Truffles. Available online at Teuscher New York and Teuscher Beverly Hills.
posted by ericb at 11:03 AM on February 5, 2005

La Maison du Chocolat
posted by mlis at 11:05 AM on February 5, 2005

Also Ethel M chocolates (Las Vegas)...especially their "liqueurs".
posted by ericb at 11:07 AM on February 5, 2005

At a restaurant recently, we were greeted with a chocolate beverage in an espresso cup. It was dark, rich and had a hint of cayenne - all in all very good and slightly amorous. I wish I had a recipe to give you.
posted by jazzkat11 at 11:41 AM on February 5, 2005

Try to find a local chocolatier. There is nothing like fresh chocolate truffles. Often the best are small businesses working out of a home.
posted by letitrain at 11:53 AM on February 5, 2005

This thread in AskMe covered some vendors for French liqueurs.
posted by AlexReynolds at 12:02 PM on February 5, 2005

Lindt Truffles are pretty good (especially the white chocolate ones, IMHO), and are available a reasonable price in most fine food markets.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:02 PM on February 5, 2005 [1 favorite]

If anyone has some links to recipes for chocolate candies, I'd greatly appreciate them. It's a little bit of a related question, so I hope I'm not derailing the thread.
posted by odinsdream at 12:06 PM on February 5, 2005

jazzkat11's restaurant beverage sounds very intriguing — does anyone have an idea what this might be?
posted by taz at 12:14 PM on February 5, 2005

Port's nice with rich chocolates, especially those that have berry flavored filling (that's probably a duh comment.) If you offer salty foods to balance the chocolate, I'd suggest a Margeaux to complement both. And chocolate fondue with fresh fruit and spongy pound cake is very sexy- but probably not practical for a party with more than 8 people.
posted by sophie at 12:16 PM on February 5, 2005

I live near Jacques Torres, or Mr. Chocolate. His chocolate bars make people your friends. I don't like the chocolate drinky stuff. His little chocolates are beautiful, and expensive. Some are delicious, some are ordinary.

Other than that, there's a recipe in the Ben & Jerrys cookbook for a hot chocolate sludge that's my favorite hot chocolate out there. In Italy I was served chocolate warm, in syrupy concentration, along with a container of hot milk, and a bowl of sugar. That's class for ya'.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 12:22 PM on February 5, 2005

Chocolate and aphrodisiacs? Maybe you could serve the chocolates like this.
posted by orthogonality at 12:27 PM on February 5, 2005

Since you're in Oregon, you have access to Trader Joe's in these cities, which started carrying Chocovic's Guaranda and Ocumare, "unique origin varietal chocolates". I presume money isn't an object, but if it is, these are an incredible bargain, like so much at Trader Joe's. From the review linked above:

A forestero, but with the red-ochre colour of a fine criollo, a translucent sheen and a dense but visible grain. The snap is a little soft, more of a thud. Floral and tobacco aroma with the musty, candy notes typical of forestero, plus hints of green grass.

The initial taste is acid with iron notes and hints of chilli. Once the melt gets going the chocolate dissolves nicely on the tongue turning to citrus, balanced with a woodiness that has a little fire behind the flavour. Ends in coffee with light caramel and chocolate extending into the length. Lingers pleasantly and fades away gracefully.

posted by Aknaton at 12:34 PM on February 5, 2005

Trader Joe's also carries Valrona (or perhaps Valrhona), which is very, very good. My other favorite brand is Callebaut.

Chocolate parties often suffer from excessive heaviness, so you might want to consider champagne as a beverage. It goes well with most things, including most desserts, and it's simultaneously festive and decadent.
posted by anapestic at 1:25 PM on February 5, 2005

I also recommend Moonstruck Chocolate, which, despite Oprah's endorsement, is quite wonderful.
posted by calistasm at 1:31 PM on February 5, 2005

Here's my 2 cents. For the price, you cannot do better than Sharffenberger for good quality dark chocolate. I also love La Maison du Chocolat and Vosges. I also agree with the recommendation of Chocovic's Guaranda (venezuelan) and Ocumare (ecuadoran) chocolate. And they are a bargain at $1.79/bar at Trader Joe's. I did just see them at Cost Plus World Market for $2/bar. I don't particularly like Lindt chocolate. I just prefer a more intense chocolate taste. As for other dark chocolates not yet mentioned. Try Michel Cluizel. Very unusual and just delicious. And also El Rey. You can't go wrong with Valrhona or Callebaut either (but I prefer those for baking, rather than just eating). Let us know how it goes!
posted by picklebird at 1:31 PM on February 5, 2005

Chocolates by Bernard has a store in Lake Oswego Bernard is a pleasant man who I watched demonstrate the art of making truffles a year or so ago.
posted by Cranberry at 1:43 PM on February 5, 2005

You'll like Old Benson if you are imbibing port. It's among the higher-rated, and comes in at the middle price range (~$30-50/bottle). Aussie vintage.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:44 PM on February 5, 2005

First, thank-you. This has reduced my anxiety from a ten to a two. If only I had around $600 bucks to try everything.

Second, in reference to the Michel Cluizel, the bars are listed by cacao content. How will this effect the flavor, and thus how do I decide on the right content?

Again, thanks so much. The suggestions are sublime.

posted by docpops at 2:05 PM on February 5, 2005

Okay, quick lesson in chocolate and cacao content:
The higher the cacao content, the more intense and darker the chocolate. But, the higher cacao content, the less creamy the chocolate will taste too. It is a real feat of a chocolatier to get a high chocolate content and a creamy "mouth feel." Dark chocolate will be anywhere between about 62% to as high as about 86%.

If you're not doing a serious chocolate tasting, but just eating for fun, I like chocolate between 62% and 72%. For creamier, milkier chocolate, you can go lower. You likely cannot really taste the difference between say 62% and 65%. With Michel Cluizel, he treats cocoa beans like others think of wine grapes, so each type of bar will be different because of where the cocoa beans are from. I would suggest a variety of types of chocolate and brands and see what you like!
posted by picklebird at 2:25 PM on February 5, 2005

In terms of alcohol to match with a good dark chocolate, if your guests are slightly open minded I would suggest pairing it with a good porter (style of beer similar to stout, but less dry in general). Something like Great Lake's Brewing Co. Edmund Fitzgerald goes amazingly well with chocolate. In terms of a more porter that's easier to find, I'm sure Anchor Porter by Anchor Brewing Co. or Sierra Nevada's porter would be good. The roasted nature of the barley makes flavors very similar to some of the flavors in chocolate.

Rouge makes a number of good stouts and porters I've heard. Also, a stout or schwartzbier (like Sam Adam's new Black Lager) should work well with chocolate.
posted by skynxnex at 3:09 PM on February 5, 2005

I second the Vosges recommendation. I order them often for gifts (to others or to myself) and they are splendid, unique, and worth every penny. All of their hot chocolates are incredible as well. Everything ships beautifully, and their customer-service is fantastic.

Seafood is considered aphrodisiac mostly because of its association by the greeks & romans with the goddess venus/aphrodite (the babe on the halfshell.) Oysters are a big one because of this and because they (sort of) resemble lady-bits and the roman orgies served them.

Go heavy on fruit -- which is difficult this time of year. Fruit is juicy and sweet and when you eat it, you get sticky. Kind of like sex. There are some who say pineapple makes semen taste better (if the guy eats the pineapple, not mixed together in some gross cocktail configuration -- though there was that one MeFi thread on cooking with semen I guess.)

Bull testicles -- pretty much any animal testicles -- have also been considred aphrodisiacs, but you know, that's just nasty.
posted by macadamiaranch at 3:31 PM on February 5, 2005

You can find Lindt in 70%, 85%, and 99% cacoa. The 99% advises starting with a lower cacoa content before attempting to enjoy the pure cacoa. It is very, very intense. Almos unenjoyable.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:05 PM on February 5, 2005

I second sophie's suggestion of grapes + chocolote + fruit favorite (relatively inexpensive) way to do it is to have a glass of red wine while eating Lindt raspberry-filled chocolate. Mmmmmm.

Sounds like jazzkat11 is talking about Mexican hot chocolate, which has a lower sugar content and some added spices. You can get a mix or make your own.

As for other aphrodisiacs, some classics include oysters, asparagus, and artichokes. Check here for more ideas. My only other recommendations is....invite me!
posted by equipoise at 4:41 PM on February 5, 2005

Chocolate drinks!
posted by ericb at 7:23 PM on February 5, 2005

This site seems to have many ideas.
posted by 6:1 at 7:50 PM on February 5, 2005

I read an article a few years ago (I think in Saveur) all about pairing wine and chocolate. I don't remember all of it, but I do remember that the clear winners were Jacques Torres and a Hungarian Tokay (also spelled Tokaj). Ask at your local wine shop about botrytised dessert wines, they should be able to help you. Personally, I'd go in the opposite direction and have a hearty Cabernet Sauvignon or Bordeaux-style blend, but then my favorite chocolate is Guittard Unsweetened, so I'm biased against the sweet.

I can't help but show you the chocolate fountain too, even if it's complete overkill for this party.
posted by cali at 10:18 PM on February 5, 2005

There's a recipe in Amanda Hesser's "Cooking For Mr. Latte" which you can find here on Bruce Cole's Saute Wednesday that sounds really interesting. (I almost made it tonight.) You take a baguette, slice it, put a sliver of bitter sweet chocolate on it, sprinkle with olive oil and sea salt and put in the oven. (Follow the link for the specific instructions.) May be perfect for your party as something unusual.
posted by adrober at 10:43 PM on February 5, 2005

I've never had chocolate as good as Candinas in Verona, Wisconsin. The freshness holds up during shipping as well. Incredible.
posted by geekyguy at 4:17 AM on February 6, 2005

For a dose of the exotic you could always try some of the pearl products from
posted by pookzilla at 4:48 AM on February 6, 2005

Vosges is good, but you might want to investigate Domori. I haven't had any of their stuff but I quote the endorsement of a chocophile friend: "Domori, which is Italian and kind of pricey and the head of the company seems marginally insane - he writes a little blurb for each kind of chocolate. The blurb for the 100% cocoa begins: "I forged cocoa in the fire and refined it in the void," and ends "... Pure... beyond the Code..." (The Domori Code, which is kind of like a wine-taster's guide to chocolate.) But in any event, their chocolate is AMAZING, and I know they do chocolate-covered ginger..."

Refined in the void. Vosges don't do that.
posted by kenko at 10:24 AM on February 6, 2005

The Lindt 99% is incredibly astringent, and basically just nasty.
posted by kenko at 10:25 AM on February 6, 2005

Besides the somewhat obvious Champagne, I love a nice spicy Zinfandel with chocolate. I don't know if wine snobs would approve, but I suggest trying it!
posted by sixdifferentways at 10:53 AM on February 6, 2005

The Lindt 99% is incredible, if you're stoned and if you've worked up to it by eating the 70% and 85%.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:22 PM on February 6, 2005

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