And fine, artisan chocolate is really unlike anything else. It's certainly better than the yellow boxes we got as kids from our grandparents on Valentine's Day. There are a few wonderful places in town that craft their own treats in-house and spice them up with unusual concoctions that make them a perfectly acceptable dessert all on their own. Plus, they go great with wine.
At Eclipse Chocolat in North Park, I go for anything with salt. You could get a bag o' mini bars (nothing like the minis of Halloween) for your sweet love. How does Basil Mint, Gingerbread Crumb or Salty Dulce de Leche sound? They also make Sea Salt Caramels and this thing they call Rococo—think very fancy rocky road. The one I crave is studded with the classic marshmallows, but also burnt caramel toffee and cayenne spiced candied pecans.
Chuao Chocolatier is available at most grocery stores these days, but they started here and they still have several cafes including ones in Del Mar, UTC and Encinitas. Their specialty this season is a port-wine drenched strawberry enrobed in dark chocolate. Sign me up! This week they're selling like hotcakes. Or, chocolate strawberries. They have other V-Day inspired treats, like marzipan or praline hearts. But I always look for the Gingerette: caramelized ginger coated in dark chocolate and sprinkled with a smoky chipotle chili.
Chi Chocolat in Liberty Station do truffles and they do them well. I'm partial to the ones infused with Jasmine Tea and am dying to try their Curry Truffle that's dipped in coconut. My kid wasn't too into trying that one, so we passed. But Valentine's Day is but four days away... definitely better than nothing.
For some additional spots to pick up chocolates, check out last week's Wandering Appetite column.