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Chocolate is for Lovers: A Valentine's Day survey of local and regional decadence 

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Reaching for the dark shaded polish at my pedicure, I knew I had eaten enough chocolate. I've spent the last two weeks tasting chocolates and sweets: expensive, inexpensive, milk, dark, French, Belgian and locally made. Valentine's Day is rich in confusion with gods, folklore and Spanish conquest and sexual imagery. For Valentine's Day, confectionery gifts were codified when Cadbury invented the heart-shaped box in the 1860s. Here, we're all about the sweet stuff. Lovers beware. Too much chocolate and you'll paint your toes a shade of 70% dark cocoa. Which could be a good thing - your lover might think those toes are edible.


Moonstruck Chocolatier

Would your honey like a 6-piece boxed set of salted caramels ($15)? Oh, you've behaved badly and need to seek sweet redress? Try the 40-piece truffle collection ($85). My suggestion: get the ocumarian truffle any way you can. Moonstruck's signature truffle is filled with dark chocolate, ancho and chipotle peppers. It will turn every lover into a hunka burnin' love. 6600 N. Baltimore Ave., Portland. 503-247-3448. Moonstruckchocolate.com. Available locally at Newport Avenue Market.

Pegasus Gourmet Chocolates

The website says "making chocolates since 1892." Kaz and Susan Moini bought Pegasus Chocolates in 1976 and became the third owners of a successful shop in Newport that opened over a century ago. Perusing the case, I tried not to look like an eager child, but I was. Susan pointed out a row of sugar-free truffles and chocolates, perfect for someone else. I quickly moved to the full fat and sugar section. One combination, the blueberry and cocoa bean with dark chocolate, was the size of a fifty-cent piece. They are the miniature version of a chocolate Susan's mom made with the addition of blueberry. Biting into the coin- sized chocolate, there was the crunch of cocoa beans and the sweet-tartness of blueberries. The dark chocolate flavor lingered long after eating. Pegasus has heart shaped boxes for sale or you can create your own mix. 1900 NE 3rd St. 541-330-2104

Chickadee Cheesecakes

My first encounter with Lorell at Chickadee was after she finished a music lesson (job #1), then we discussed her work with the Central Oregon Symphony (job #2) and finally cheesecakes (job #3). Make no mistake, her talent runs deep. I ordered a 6-inch chocolate cheesecake ($30), delivered free of charge to my doorstep and decorated with shavings of dark chocolate. The cake was luxurious, with a mouth feel reminiscent of freshly churned butter and farm-fresh milk. The chocolate, not too overpowering, tasted like real chocolate, not alkaline cocoa powder. I recommend finding any reason to order and devour. Chickadee ships and is accepting orders for Valentine's Day through February 11th. (No physical address). 541-420-0250. chickadeecheesecakes.com

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