The textbook way to make your sweetheart melt? Chocolate.
But there’s more to the cocoa-bean arts than candies (OK, barely more). So this San Diego chocolate guide recognizes cameos in cocktails and dishes. Of course, we throw in some romantic candy-box recommendations for Valentine’s Day, too.
Chocolate in a Box
You almost want white gloves to eat passionfruit caramel in a milk chocolate ganache (aka the Incantato) made by David Bacco Chocolatier. Arrange a private chocolate tasting at his factory in Mira Mesa and pick up a box of chocolates (16 for $39.99; by appointment). He also sells at the Encinitas, Rancho Santa Fe and Welk farmers markets. (pictured)
And at Dallmann Fine Chocolates in Del Mar’s Flower Hill Promenade, you’ll find unusual flavors (salt, cinnamon and pine nut praline truffle). For Valentine’s, get edible heart-shaped chocolates with chocolates inside or a gift box filled with chocolatier Isabella Valencia’s pretty treats (16 for $29). On Feb. 14, she’s hosting a chocolate fondue and Champagne tasting for $25 per choco-fanatic.
At Chi Chocolat in Point Loma, chocolatier Jesse Brown also builds a candy box out of chocolate. Fill it with a la carte creations like a Champagne-filled dark chocolate ganache sprinkled with pink sugar (10 for $25). Olivier Bioteau, chef of Farm House Cafe in University Heights, launched XO Chocolates with his cook Cristina Marquez. They use French chocolate for all-natural handmade cubes like milk chocolate with caramelized hazelnuts. Sample and order boxes (10 for $16) at the cafe.
Candy boxes vary (6-8 for $10-15) at Carlsbad Chocolate Bar, which is also a wine store. They craft turtles (a layer of chocolate, with caramel and nuts, sealed with chocolate) and carry other chocolate brands. (The Del Mar location is a tiny drop-in spot for chocolates and gift baskets).
And Chuao Chocolatier’s all-natural gourmet chocolates have won over hearts for more than a decade. For Valentine’s, get their Sweethearts Box (22 aphrodisiac-infused bonbons and truffles for $49.95).
Bonus: Live out your Wonka fantasies — enter Chuao’s Love of Chocolate Sweepstakes via their Facebook page (through Feb. 28) to win a year’s supply of Chuao chocolate.
Escort the alehead in your life to Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens in Escondido. The beer menu rotates every day, but on Feb. 7 in the bistro, there’ll still be a cask of Stone Smoked Porter. It’s brewed with Tonga vanilla bean, bitter chocolate and dark-toasted oak. Find it in stores, too.
Bonus: While it’s chocolate-free, the malty Stone Imperial Russian Stout pairs really well with chocolate.
On a recent “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” NeNe Leakes claimed she’s on a diet, then gave into a chocolate martini anyway ... because this irresistible cocktail has the texture and taste of a milkshake!
At downtown’s Grant Grill, BOLS Crème de Cacao White communes with vanilla vodka for ultra smoothness, and the one at Spring Valley’s Cali BBQ Comfort sports bar is almost whipping-cream dense. The chocolate martini at Truluck’s in University City strives for death-by-decadence — Godiva Dark Chocolate Liqueur, vanilla vodka, crème de cacao light, crème de cacao dark and cream streaked with chocolate sauce. Try Truluck’s happy hour (half-off cocktails: 4:30 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; all-day Sundays).
Bonus: When you go to “Romeo and Juliet” or “Cinderella” soon at the San Diego Symphony, do a twirl by the Copley Symphony Hall lobby bar for the Dulcinea. Named after the character in “Don Quixote” and designed by Snake Oil Cocktail Co., the Dulcinea has vodka, pressed tangerine and lime, mint and a touch of bitter liquid cocoa.
Read the full story and find more chocolate treats on utsandiego.com