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Does Chocolate Go with Everything? America's Haute Cuisine Crowd Seems to Think So

We have reached a point where chefs and chocolatiers will stick almost anything into or onto chocolate and stand back smilingly awaiting our applause.

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The latter "are hot, but not super-hot," explained co-owner Wendy Lieu. "The deal is that it's very different" from other chili-spiked chocolate products. "I wanted something that was like cayenne, but more reflective of my Vietnamese heritage. The hard part was finding the right proportion -- how much hot sauce to put in. I experimented for a while with an amount that I thought was right, but people said, 'Aaargh,' so I brought it down to a level where it's still really spicy, but you can tell what you're eating."

Sriracha sauce also includes garlic, "so the flavor is multidimensional," Lieu said.

I knew these babies would be way too hot for me, especially after a fellow salon-goer told me that one Socola Sriracha truffle had knocked out her palate for the next two hours. Which felt interesting and profound, she said, but only because she likes hot things and had been forewarned.

Ever curious, I took the Omnicacaoviability Hypothesis along to dinner last night at Lark Creek Walnut Creek, a hub of quiet elegance whose chef Scott Wall brings new glamour to American classics. As proof that I really do test my hypotheses, here's a picture of me eating LCWC's signature meatloaf topped with Dagoba 70 percent dark.

Three words: O.M.G. Is it that everything goes great with meatloaf? Or is it that something surprising, strong and vital happens when dark chocolate meets beef. It's as if both components race toward each other and then collide in a head-banging burst of rich, almost-alive and almost-sweet.

Which gives me an idea for the Next Big Thing: Nib burgers.


Anneli Rufus is the author of several books, most recently The Scavenger's Manifesto (Tarcher Press, 2009). Read more of her work at

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