Love chocolate? Read on . . .

A couple of weeks ago, Dr. Charlyn Belluzzo was a guest on my radio show, Mouthful. Dr. Belluzo, a research physician who has traveled the globe and lived in Africa working on health issues, recently retired (early!) from her medical career and became a winemaker and founder of Amorosa Bella, in part a winery, in part a lifestyle, in part a force of nature. I found my guest to be one of the most engaging people I’ve met in years. She is both extremely knowledgeable and profoundly passionate about her work, including her lifestyle book, Authentic Sensual Living. You can listen to the episode with Dr. Belluzo here. (You can also subscribe to Mouthful via itunes; simply enter Mouthful in the search bar, watch for my face to pop up and then either subscribe (it’s free) or download a specific episode.)

I’ve tasted three of the four wines Charlyn currently makes: Sparkling Brut ($30), Sparkling Rose ($32) and Pinot Noir ($38) and, honestly, have been astonished by their quality. All are outstanding. You can read about them here.

Amorosa Bella's sparkling-wine-infused caramel heart cloaked in chocolate and crowned with flakes of salt

But her chocolates have been more of a revelation to me. I have admitted–publicly even!–that I don’t have a chocolate jones, that most of the time I turn it down, that I really don’t care for it. This admission sometimes feels like I am confessing to being a serial killer; a colleague once went so far as to suggest I should lose my credentials as a writer about food because of this and I’ve never been certain she was kidding.

But then I tasted Amorosa Bella’s extraordinary chocolates. They start with sparkling-wine-infused caramel, shaped like a heart. The caramel heart is then dipped in silky bittersweet chocolate and sprinkled with delicate flakes of salt. Oh my! I have no idea how many  I could eat at one sitting because I always make myself stop at three, even though I’ve always wanted more. I’ve known for a while that adding salt to chocolate–in, say, brownies–is a fabulous idea but the combination soars in these little gems. (I should probably revise what I say about chocolate, that I am simply very particularly. I love, for example,

Gandolf's Salted Truffle

Gandolf’s Fine Chocolates, which founder Guy Daniels sells at that Santa Rosa farmers market; he makes a salted truffle.)

You can meet Charlyn this evening, taste the wines and the chocolates and enjoy a complimentary hand massage (using the warmed oil from the soy candles she makes) this evening at Cellars of Sonoma (133 4th St.) in Railroad Square. She will be there from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. and will be happy to sign bottles of wine and copies of her book, which make great holiday gifts. To read more about Charlyn, Amarosa Bella and its line of sensual products (there’s a lot more than wine, chocolates, candles and a book), check out Amorosa Bella.

I have, over the years, written about chocolate in my column. Here are two recipes from the Seasonal Pantry archives.

Red Velvet Butter Cake with Chocolate

Chocolate Fettuccine with Vanilla Sauce & Strawberries