Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

LOVE in a box.

Byline: Charlotte Balcomb Lane JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

For Valentine's Day, nothing beats chocolate

Chocolate can arouse passions year-round, but never more than on Valentine's Day when chocolate truly becomes the flavor of love.

Few things say "you melt me" more than a great piece of chocolate. A single bite of a beautifully molded bonbon can conjure up images of luxury, passion, sensuality, and Swiss chocolatiers in the Alps.

"Chocolate is the most high-impact gift you can give," said Chuck Weck, co-owner of Theobroma Chocolatier in the Far Northeast Heights. His wife and business partner is Heidi Weck, a specialist in making picture-perfect truffles.

"People won't buy a one-pound box of chocolate for themselves, but if you give it to them, they'll eat the whole thing," Weck added.

Chocolate is widely thought to be an aphrodisiac, which may be why it has become so closely associated with the day of love. Just look at the recent movie "Chocolat," starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp, in which magical chocolates change the lives of villagers in a straight-laced French town.

Recent medical studies have also given chocoholics more reason to rejoice: Chocolate not only tastes good, it may be good for you.

Two naturally occurring chemicals in chocolate are thought to combine with dopamine in the brain to act as a mild antidepressant. So, eating chocolate may actually help calm nerves and contribute to a sense of well-being. Other research indicates that antioxidants in chocolate may combat heart disease.

And there isn't a morsel of evidence to link chocolate with tooth decay or acne.

In the week leading up to Valentine's Day, chocolate lovers will find a stunning variety of custom-made and commercial chocolates in Albuquerque's shops. …

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