Valentine's Day is around the corner -- next Tuesday if you've forgotten already -- and those heart-shaped boxes of chocolate have been crowding grocery-store displays for weeks already. And for good reason: Chocolate and romance have well-established links.
The connection comes, in part, because of chocolate's one-time scarcity, because of the endorphin-releasing phenylthylamines in cocoa's chemical makeup, and because of super-romantic flicks like "Chocolat," where melt-worthy hotties Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp excentuate its sensual side.
The most important things about the source of the association: that it's there, and that whether or not she's a chocoholic, your love interest will interpret a thoughtful ode to the sweet as a super romantic overture. And, true to this town's foodie reputation, Boulder's got a handful of original venues serving cocoa-based offerings; everything from chocolate-covered marshmallows to organic chocolate-infused olive oil. So skip the heart-shaped box of cheapo bonbons next Tuesday -- you have something more original planned anyway, don't you? -- and take her for a romantic sampling of quality cocoa confections around town this weekend.
Salted truffles, filled and drizzles pastries, straight-up solid bars, or even chocolate-flavored tea. There's a smorgasboard of options for adventurous chocoholics at the Pearl-Street storefront of Piece, Love & Chocolate (805 Pearl St.; open until 9 p.m. Fri. and Sat.). Cozy up at one of the storefront tables and enjoy some casual conversation over a tiny cup of the rich and steaming drinking chocolate, or snack on your dessert of choice at the back bar where, if you're lucky, you'll be able to watch the chefs creating out-of-control cakes. If you're really lucky, your date will suggest buying some of the body-paint edibles or sweet-scented body oils for the two of you to try later in the night.
It'd definitely be a splurge, but the 31st Annual Chocolate Lovers' Fling (3080 Center Green Dr.; Sat. 7 -- 11 p.m.; $200/couple) is a gala event that throws otherwise-respectable local chocoholics into a tizzy. It's no wonder; there's a cocoa-infused smorgasbord of appetizers, cakes, sweets, samples, sauces, and even beer- and wine-pairings all curated by local superstar chocolatiers. The event is the most important fundraiser for the local domestic-violence assistance agency, the Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence, so many of Boulder's big-wigs will be there rubbing elbows while savoring the sweets and supporting the organization. Dress up, satisfy your chocolate cravings, and try your hand at philanthropy for a good cause -- a sure way to impress a classy girl with a soft spot for helping others.
If you're holding onto your romance card until Valentine's Day, you can still sneak some chocolate into a more casual or group date. The Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery (1535 Pearl St.; open until 1 a.m. on weekends) has been brewing batches of a rich, creamy, Belgian Dip Chocolate Stout that'll do more than give your date a sugar high -- with 6.3-percent alcohol and more than 20 pounds of chocolate per batch, buying her a pint will give her a body-rushing, feel-good one-two punch -- and show her how much you care.
Kristy Holland writes about dating once a week for the Colorado Daily. Tell her about your date-night ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.