<em>Experience</em >: CHOCOLATE Logo

The Life of the Party? Chocolate.

Excerpted from The Boston Globe
Boston, Massachusetts -- February 8, 2006

by Bridget Samburg
Globe correspondent

Suzanne Oakley, owner of Experience: CHOCOLATE, a company she started several years ago, offers chocolates from various countries as a way to illustrate the difference in taste. Learning to appreciate and even crave artisanal chocolate may take time for those who are used to candy bars. A tasting party is the perfect way to get acquainted with new, richer tastes.

"I always thought, 'Chocolate is chocolate,' " says Michelle Appleby, who hosted 12 friends at her Cohasset home with Oakley. ''But there is a whole complex, very different taste than you'd expect." Appleby enjoys entertaining and was excited to support a new business. That's where Oakley came in... Oakley brings all the ingredients and begins each tasting with a brief history of chocolate and the evolution of chocolate consumption. Tasters begin with a cup of sumptuous hot chocolate. Then she introduces the cocoa nib, the meat of the bean, something Oakley suggests adding to a salad as a substitute for nuts.

The party at Appleby's home includes six pure chocolates and several flavor-infused ones. ''The inclination is to chomp your chocolate pretty quickly," Oakley tells the group. ''Take a minute. Look at the chocolate, inhale the aroma, and slowly let it melt in your mouth."

Still, to resist chomping chocolate is no easy task. "It takes a lot of self control," says Oakley.

Chocolate pieces