Get her tipsy, feed her chocolate.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not above whetting my wife’s more carnal appetites with enough wine and chocolate to impair her better judgment. I’m sure that’s all very un-PC and certainly, as the father of young daughters, I live in mortal fear of the effects of alcohol on sensibility; but my wife’s a big girl, and above all, she knows how I think, so I’m pretty sure our pending Valentine’s Date – a savory symphony of handcrafted chocolate and wine at J Winery – will be consensual.

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Sonoma Chocolate: Locals do it best
Feb04

Sonoma Chocolate: Locals do it best

Valentines or just because, the best local choclates and sweets

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Braised Lamb with Bitter Chocolate, Rosemary, and Syrah

Lamb shoulder, braised with Syrah, Chocolate, and RosemarySometimes, despite all the planning, the wearing-thin of cookbook pages, the carpal-tunnel-clicking through epicurious, I’ll find out the hard way that it’s what I didn’t plan for that determines whether my food ultimately succeeds, or merely sucks. Typically, I’m undone by good, old fashioned pilot error; typically, but not always, because sometimes it’s the black swan crapping on my mise, and it’s just such an exception to the rule that inspired this edition of Meat, Braise, Love: A slow braise of shoulder of local lamb with bitter chocolate, rosemary, and bad-ass Syrah.

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A Plate of Strange Bedfellows

Pickles, cheese, and chocolate: Three ingredients, three possible pair-wise combinations, two really good and interesting tastes, and one impossibly disgusting mouthful of gag reflex. If I like cheese with pickles, and (somewhat surprisingly) I like chocolate with cheese, then why don’t I like chocolate with pickles? I mean, other than the painfully obvious – in point of fact, it tastes even worse than it sounds –...

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Meat, Braise, Love

Beef Short Ribs in a Zinfandel Chili BraiseProducing a braise in your own kitchen is a bit like making porn in your own bed: It rewards practice, because when you get it just right, it’s the best you’ll ever see, and all the times you don’t, it’s still a very long way from sucking. Similarly, there is just so much to love about the braise: Purely from a gastronomic perspective, no other cooking technique so easily employed by the home cook comes close to creating the depth and concentration of flavor than does the properly executed braise.

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Salt Side Down Chocolates

A touch of salt adds flavor to these Wine Country truffles

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Valentine’s Day treats from Sonoma County (mostly)

Romantic treats for Valentine’s Day from the bounty of the county

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Viva Cocolat

You. Someone special. A pot of fancy melted chocolate, bananas and two forks on a Saturday night. Let the games begin. The deets: Chocolate fondue in milk, dark or white chocolate for two with cake, cookies, fruit and other dip-ables. $18 for more fun than should be legal on Friday and Saturday evenings. Reservations recommended. Just want a quickie? Satisfy your deep, dark chocolate yearnings with truffles, bon bons and desserts from...

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