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Bittersweet love affair with chocolate

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People spend more than $7 billion a year on this substance of the gods – and you don’t want to know how many calories that translates to.

Chocolate: a single woman’s love potion, a writer’s fit-in-a-drawer cup of caffeine and the secret to the fountain of youth – a Harvard study concluded men who eat chocolate add a year to their life.

Not that I need any excuses to hoard away a freezer full of the dark delight from a boutique chocolatier only found on Vancouver Island.

But when my stocks run low, a drive to Squamish, not as long as a ferry ride, lands me in hand-rolled, handmade cocoa haven at the Xocolatl Chocolate Creations on Main Street, where the only words you can utter are a lustful yes, yes, yes.

No preservatives, all natural ingredients, the callebaut chocolate flaunts its decadence in many forms in the tiny tucked away shop. The dark rich raspberry-gnache centred morsels are shaped in a perfect heart. Hand dipped chocolate dishes are filled with chocolate clouds and desserts such as the triple chocolate mouse cake – layered in dark, milk and white chocolate mousse – can draw the strongest willed dieter through the doors. And everything can be wrapped in a red velvet box for romantics or on a napkin for those with no will power.

Biting into a hefty dark chocolate shell, which breaks into a sweet cherry syrup, is a guilt free adventure at Xocolatl. The darker the chocolate, the more concentrated the cocoa, the more antioxidants flow through your blood to stimulate a healthy heart.

Nothing says seduction like a chocolate fondue for two. The fondue chocolate made from Belgian semi-sweet dark chocolate at Bavaria Restaurant invites fresh fruit, roasted almonds and biscotti dippings by candlelight, toasted perfectly with champagne, Grand Marnier or ice wine.

For a more contained chocolate that doesn’t just put it out there all at once, a visit to Quattro for the sexy Chocolate Resurrection will get any Valentine into the mood.

Tall, dark, handsome and rich to boot, when you slice your fork into the warm cake, a Callebaut lava centre oozes out like a wet dream. Both the cake and perfectly coupled bittersweet chocolate gelato are all made in house.

A female version of this one-night stand awaits at Trattoria di Umberto with a warm cherry centre hidden away in the steamy molten chocolate cake.

For a quickie, a hot chocolate crowned with a heap of chocolate whip cream at Mogul’s, the chocolate raspberry cheesecake brownie at Cracked Pepper Café in Function, the limited edition Valentine’s cinnamon-cream centred medallions at Rogers’ Chocolates and the crème brulée topped lava cake at Elements Lounge.

The only thing better than eating chocolate is decadently being wrapped in its silky smooth caress. A Cocoa Body Wrap at the Four Seasons Resort Spa stimulates your skin and senses with a chocolate sugar scrub, warm chocolate-mud wrap and chocolate moisture lotion. Sit back in head to toe chocolate without gaining a pound.

Don’t need a date

There are plenty of Valentine’s set menus around town, but only one restaurant is serving a date with your entrée.

Three Below, located at Village 8 Cinemas, is hosting a Double Blind Date Dinner, which includes a three-course meal, a bottle of champagne (for two) and a date.

Single males and females will be paired for dinner. You must book in advance by calling Andre at 604-935-4622.

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