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Archive for February 5, 2010

VALENTINE’S DAY: Chocolate Tasting

For goober-loving Americans, Green & Black’s of the U.K. has introduced its first U.S.-exclusive flavor.

The newest addition to the Green & Black’s family of premium organic chocolate bars is the Peanut bar, a blend of premium 37% cacao dark milk chocolate with delectable caramelized peanuts and a hint of sea salt.

Whether you’re single and celebrating with a group of friends or planning a romantic evening for two, a chocolate and wine tasting is a delicious way to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Green & Black’s suggests the following chocolate-and-wine pairings (and we have many more ideas—see below):

  • Green & Black’s Toffee Chocolate Bar With Zinfandel. The rich, dark-fruit characters in the wine accentuate the chocolate’s buttery sweet toffee flavors.
  • Green & Black’s White Chocolate Bar with Chardonnay. The silky smoothness, creamy texture and vanilla finish of Green & Black’s White Chocolate Bar is perfectly complemented by the tropical fruit and hint of oak in a classic Chardonnay. This white chocolate bar is one of our editor’s favorites. She calls it “masculine” white chocolate—not the overly sweet and cloying bars one often encounters.

A great combination of peanuts, sea salt
and milk chocolate. Photo courtesy Green & Blacks.

  • Green & Black’s Dark 85% Dark Chocolate Bar with Syrah. The intense flavors of a high percentage cacao bar require a rich wine like Syrah. The complexity and sturdy structure of the wine softens and enhances the dark, intense chocolate.

Conduct the tasting as would a wine tasting. Choose up to six pairings. Start with the lightest variety (white chocolate) and finish with the darkest (dark 85%).


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VALENTINE’S DAY: Most Romantic Restaurants


A romantic table at Auberge du Soleil in
Napa Valley.

Going out to dinner for Valentine’s Day? has compiled a list of the nation’s most romantic restaurants as judged by users of the online reservations service.

OpenTable analyzed more than 4 million reviews from last year to build the list of 50 restaurants from coast to coast. Restaurants receiving high marks in the romance department range from steakhouses to fondue restaurants.

We’ve only been to two restaurants on this list, and give them high grades for atmosphere. One had great food, the other was just above-average for food (but we’re very picky). So, if you want both the romance and the best cuisine, ask friends.

And if you’ve dined at any of these restaurants, please give us your opinion.

OpenTable’s Most Romantic Restaurants In America

* Alize at the Top of the Palms Casino Resort—Las Vegas
* Ambrosia Restaurant—Santa Ana, Calif.
* Andrea: The Resort at Pelican Hill—Newport Beach, Calif.
* Auberge du Soleil—Napa, Calif.
* Bistro Romano—Philadelphia
* Cafe Renaissance—Vienna, Va.
* Canlis—Seattle
* The Cellar—Fullerton, Calif.
* Chez Shea—Seattle
* Different Pointe of View —Scottsdale, Ariz.
* Eagle’s Nest: Hyatt Regency Indianapolis—Indianapolis
* Eiffel Tower—Las Vegas
* Erminia Ristorante—New York
* The French Room —Dallas
* Geja’s Cafe— Chicago
* Gibraltar—Miami
* Il Bistro— Seattle
* Il Cielo—Beverly Hills, Calif.
* La Caille Restaurant—Salt Lake City
* La Fondue—Saratoga, Calif.
* LA Prime at The Westin Bonaventure Hotel—Los Angeles
* Latitudes Beach Cafe—Key West, Fla.
* The Little Door— Los Angeles
* Log Haven—Salt Lake City
* Madrona Manor—Healdsburg, Calif.
* Michel’s at the Colony Surf—Honolulu
* The Melting Pot—various locations
* Mona Lisa Fondue Restaurant—Colorado Springs, Colo.
* One if by Land, Two if by Sea—New York
* Ortolan—West Hollywood, Calif.
* Pamplemousse—Las Vegas
* Peter Shields Inn—Cape May, N.J.
* Rey’s—Raleigh, N.C.
* Shadowbrook Restaurant Capitola—Capitola, Calif.
* Simply Fondue—Glendale, Calif.
* The Sky Room—Long Beach, Calif.
* Stonehouse at San Ysidro Ranch—Santa Barbara, Calif.
* Tredici Steak—New York
* Yamashiro—Los Angeles
* Zenkichi—Brooklyn, N.Y.


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TIP OF THE DAY: Melt His/Her Heart

What’s for dessert tonight? February 5th is National Chocolate Fondue Day.

Chocolate fondue is always a hit. And it’s easy to make. (Fondue comes from the French word fondre, to melt. Melt the chocolate and other ingredients, and start dipping.)


The finer the chocolate, the more delicious the fondue. You can buy the best chocolate baking wafers from, or chop up a gourmet chocolate bar.

And here’s a tradition that can make a Valentine’s Day fondue even tastier: Whoever loses a dipping piece in the fondue not only has to fish it out, of course; but he/she also has to kiss everyone at the table.


Who wants chocolate fondue? (You don’t even
have to ask.) Photo courtesy of

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CHEESE: How To Taste It (& Have A Tasting Party)


You know how to eat it, but do you know
how to taste it? Photo courtesy

You love to eat cheese, but have you ever thought of its organoleptic qualities (taste, texture, aroma)?

Take another step towards cheese connoisseurship by learning how to taste cheese like the experts. Toward this end we offer:


Now, you’re ready to have a cheese-tasting party. For extra fun at the party, have everyone take this cheese trivia quiz.

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