In an interview, Alice Medrich, author of Chocolate Holidays, reveals why she is passionate about chocolate.
When Alice Medrich was 20 and living in Paris, she fell in love—with a dark chocolate truffle her landlady made. In 1976 she launched Cocolat, a chain of Bay Area dessert shops (now closed), and still carries the torch at culinary schools including Draeger's (Menlo Park), Ramekins (Sonoma), Sur La Table (regionwide), and Tante Marie's (San Francisco).
Q Why such passion for chocolate?
A It's probably the only sophisticated gourmet food that most people have loved since childhood. You don't have to learn to appreciate it.
Q What makes it so good?
A Chocolate melts at body temperature, releasing sensual, earthy flavors. It's a proven mood enhancer. It can be either comforting or sexy.
Q Is it addictive?
A People who say they're addicted are eating chocolate with a lot of sugar. Really good chocolate has less sugar, so it's satisfying in little bites.
Q Have a favorite brand?
A Oh, no. That would be like only drinking one kind of wine, ever.
Q Ideas for a valentine treat?
A Maybe a super-rich bittersweet torte or a perfect, simple chocolate truffle.
Photography by Terrence McCarthy 
This article was first published in January 2006. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.