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Amping Up the Romance with Chocolate and Other Legendary Aphrodisiacs

Jordan Wright
February 2011
Special to The Washington Examiner

La Naissance de VénusUffizi - Gallery in Florence,Italy

La Naissance de VénusUffizi – Gallery in Florence,Italy

Rosemary, figs, pine nuts, honey.  Oysters, grapes, avocado, chiles.  Strawberries, coffee, lavender, ginger.  Of all the foods reputed to inspire romance, it is chocolate that is most closely associated with gift giving on Valentine’s Day.

Whether its powers for sexual desire are provable or not, has researchers in a conundrum.  Since years of testing can’t confirm it as fact, current science holds that the two major chemicals found in chocolate, phenylethylamine (related to amphetamine) and seratonin, contain mood-lifting endorphins.

And what about all the other ingredients purported to enhance romance?  Ancient cultures have their favorites, and if lavender works for the French and pine nuts for the Italians, well, who are we to say.  As far as the term, “aphrodisiac” goes, credit goes to the Greek goddess of Love, Aphrodite, known around Rome as Venus, unquestionably one of the hottest babes in history, whose son was Cupid.  You make the call.

If you could ingest a few sensual foods in one fell swoop delectably enrobed in chocolate, would your sweetheart be doubly or triply affectionate?  Food for thought indeed.

Here are some exceptional local sources to explore.

At ACKC Chocolates Cocoa Bar Café in Downtown DC artisan chocolatier, Rob Kingsbury has been creating inspired sweets for a discriminating clientele since 2002, when he opened his first shop on King Street in Old Town Alexandria.  Kingsbury comes from four generations of candy-makers who sold maple-flavored popcorn balls from their maple syrup farm in Vermont.

His highly original handmade chocolate confections boast dozens of unusual infusions and one of the most sought after is his “Strawberry Pink”, a dark chocolate bar with strawberries and pink peppercorns.  Other striking flavor harmonics are a dark chocolate bar with pine nuts, Herbes de Provence, sunflower and pumpkin seeds and sea salt or the exotic “Chipotle 5-Spice Bar” infused with smoky jalapenos and a blend of cinnamon, anise, fennel, cloves and white pepper.  Or get three aphrodisiacal ingredients in one ganache-filled bite with his Honey Ginger Truffles.

Another source is the kitchens of chocolatier Wilhelm Wanders of Chocolaterie Wanderings whose European-influenced stylings are reflected in his hand-crafted confections, well-known to crazed chocophiles.  “I use honey for nearly all my confections,” he reveals.  Biagio’s in DC, The Sugar Cube in Alexandria, VA and The Inn at Little Washington will all feature his heart-shaped truffles with hand-piped jasmine tea ganache, as well as a very pretty dark chocolate bergamot-scented Earl Grey tea truffle garnished with a lavender flower.

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