Chocolate Alert: Sampling a piece of fine chocolate can be a dangerous experience. Like first-growth wine, good coffee or a slab of prime-grade beef, top-quality chocolate can be addicting. What's worse, once you've had it, it's almost impossible to be satisfied with the nonprimo stuff that you've enjoyed in blissful ignorance for years.
There's another problem, too: cost. There are no bargains with high-end chocolate--as with any drug, you'll pay for your thrills.
So prepare your wallet and taste buds for a new Valley retail chocolate outlet, Chocolaterie Bernard C.
If we were playing Jeopardy!, this shrine to the cocoa bean would be the answer to this question: "Where in the Valley should you spend about $30 a pound for chocolate?"
The man behind the chocolate is Bernard Callebaut, a Belgian chocolate maker who now operates out of Canada. He's got 27 outlets, but only two in the United States: Seattle and Scottsdale.
The chocolate itself is still made in Belgium (to my mind, the Belgians make the world's finest chocolate, although the French and Swiss may disagree), and the luscious fillings are made in Calgary, Alberta. I'm told that the chocolates are flown down here once a week.
And, man, are they good. Whether it's the Gilberte, filled with dark chocolate buttercream; the Chestnut, filled with white chocolate ganache; or La Flamme, filled with orange caramel, any of these 47 varieties will produce a genuine chocolate high.
Chocolaterie Bernard C. is in Hilton Village complex, at 6137 North Scottsdale Road. Call 483-3139.
Restaurant Update: A venerable Valley restaurant has been updated and retooled.
Aldo Baldo, at Fashion Square in Scottsdale, has transformed itself into an Italian seafood restaurant. It sounds like a good way to distinguish itself from the Valley's enormous Italian-restaurant pack. The new menu features dishes like Ippoglosso crosta aglio, garlic-crusted halibut with ricotta dumplings, stuffed swordfish, charred raw tuna, grilled prawns, cioppino, snapper, sea bass and a chef's special stuffed baked lobster.
Impressively, management has held the line on prices--most of the dishes range from $12 to $15, a pretty attractive range when it comes to seafood. Look for pizza ($7 to $9) and pasta ($9 to $12), too. For more info, call 994-0062.
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Hot Town, Summer in the City: Sure, you can turn your car's air conditioner to full-blast. But if you live in the Valley of Perpetual Sun, you know you still can't drive between June and September in this town without stopping every quarter-mile for liquid sustenance.
Most of us make do with one of those enormous Thirst Busters or Big Gulps. But if you find yourself expiring at the intersection of 50th Street and McDowell, I've got another alternative.
It's the mango shake at Kohinoor Sweets and Snacks, an Indian bakery and snack spot located in the same shopping strip that houses Indian Delhi Palace. This drink is a sight for parched lips, creamy and bursting with cooling mango refreshment.
Suggestions? Write me at New Times, P.O. Box 2510, Phoenix,