What's the difference between dark chocolate and white chocolate?
Chocoholics will tell you the difference is day and night. White chocolate is not true chocolate because it contains no chocolate liquor and little chocolate flavor. It's usually a mixture of sugar, cocoa butter, milk solids and vanilla. Sharon Herbst, author of the Food Lover's Companion (Barron's; $14.95), recommends reading the label carefully. If the product doesn't contain cocoa butter, it's not even real white chocolate.
There are different types of chocolate, including bittersweet, semisweet and sweet. Generally, the higher the cocoa butter content, the more intense the chocolate flavor.
Very hot chocolate: Instead of the same old box of chocolates, consider
keeping your valentine warm by giving her or him exotic - and now trendy - hot
chocolate. Zingerman's in Ann Arbor, Mich., offers several hot chocolate mixes,
including Stone-Ground Mexican ($16 per pound); Dark Spanish Drinking Chocolate
($16 for six servings); and Vosges White Chocolate and Vanilla Cocoa ($25 per
454 grams). For arrival before V-Day, order by Wednesday: (888) 636-8162 or www.zingermans.com.
Most romantic wine: We're not sure how this will affect your lover, but the wine with the most romantic name must be Saint-Amour, one of the 10 crus (villages) in the French Beaujolais region. A red wine, the Saint-Amour is described as light, delicate and fruity. If you can't find it, consider a rose sparkling wine, such as Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut Rose ($22.99), which finished third out of nine wines in our December taste test. If you're looking for a pale bubbly, the Gruet Brut ($13.99) finished first.
Truly weird aphrodisiacs: Everyone has heard about the usual foods that are supposed to evoke amorous feelings: Oysters, caviar, asparagus, champagne and chocolate. But how about these odd ones, from the Dictionary of Aphrodisiacs (out-of-print): anchovies, brains, cabbage, eels, goat, horseradish, octopus and yeast? Sounds like one wicked pizza for two.
Tube Food: Host Bobby Rivers reveals the top five chocolate delights on Top
5, today at 9 p.m. on the Food
Hot Date: If you haven't made Valentine's Day plans, the Grailville Retreat Center is hosting a buffet dinner 5-6:30 p.m. Saturday featuring chicken with cranberry-orange sauce and roast top round of beef. A free concert by the Calhoun Jazz Quartet follows the meal. $15. (Children: $8.) Reservations: 683-2340.
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