If I could be said to have a vice, it would be fine, dark chocolate. Good thing too, since it is actually healthy (I happen to really enjoy red wine and coffee as well — all three are high in antioxidants). But the health benefits are beside the point. There’s nothing like breaking off a small square of 70% bittersweet goodness and savoring it.

valrhona_lenoir.jpg Le Noir 71% from French makers, Valrhona has been a dependable high quality choice for years. It has enough bitterness to be sophisticated, and just a hint of fruitiness to open up the palette. Trader Joe’s is the place to get this — they are somehow able to charge less than half what most do.

santander.jpgFor my birthday, along with a cd of music from the chocolate lands and a book about the chocolate barrons (my friends really know what I like), I received a bar of Santander 70% Columbian chocolate. This is really something different. It starts off fruity, moves into vanilla (or marshmallow) territory, slides into espresso roast, and finishes with a beautiful 50/50 mix of bitter and sweet. This one really changes if you exhale through your nose as you let it melt on your tongue. It may be a bit too sweet and candy-like to have on a regular basis, but so far I’m really enjoying it. It also happens to be an incredible value.