If you’re serious about Seattle’s dark side, you need to drop by <a href=”http://www.chocolopolis.com/“>Chocolopolis</a> in Queen Anne. Try their weekly happy hour, Thursdays, 5 to 9pm. Last week was staff picks — a lovely opportunity to sample the favorites of those who spend their days with chocolate.

Chocolopolis is both a chocolatier — they make their own truffles and things — and a purveyor of fine chocolates — they stock high-end bars and other items chocolate infused and coated. Got a birthday or shower to prep for? Graduation or apology to arrange? This is a great source for those “artisan” chocolates, ranging from local (Theo) to quality (Taza) to the exceptionally strange (Lillie Belle’s “Do not eat this bar”).

Chocolopolis’ staff is exceptionally helpful and friendly. They’re clearly delighted to be there, partying with the chocolates. My kind of people.

I didn’t agree with all the staff picks, but taste is a matter of — well, of taste. New to me was the Amedei “Toscano Red”, Roxanne’s pick, which surprised me with powerful bits of strawberry, cherries and raspberries in 70% high quality dark. The fruit infusion is intense, and the chocolate, deep and a touch smoky, makes no compromises whatsoever. The flavors compliment each other, like two strong singers in a rich duet. A small bite goes a long way. This stuff rocks.

A dark-chocolate friend of mine swears that with really good stuff you need less. I’m skeptical, but if that’s how you work, this could be a fine bargain even at $7 a bar. I’d go on about the amazing Toscano Red but I must tell you about the anise-infused ganache-filled dark chocolate coated figs.

Yes, figs. I know what you’re thinking. But stay with me.

When I asked the staff for a recommendation, something made in-house, she said, “Ah. You want the anise-infused ganache fig.”

I said, “Well, see, I don’t really like figs.”

“You’ll be impressed,” she said.

“Anise? In chocolate? Seriously?”

“People love these. Even skeptics like you. Seriously.”

I considered my options. All these great chocolates and I’m buying a fig?  Not cheap at $3 each, either. But it seemed foolish to forgo expert advice at a crucial time like this.

“All right. I’ll take the fig thing.”

Have you noticed my tendency to subtly (yet charmingly) mock the term “artisan chocolate”? I was doing that at Chocolopolis, too, right up until the moment I took a bite of this anise-infused ganache filled fig.

And then all at once, deep down in the soul of my taste buds, I understood what “artisan chocolate” really means. This fig thing amazingly — and yes, artistically — combined tastes I would have sworn I didn’t like and wouldn’t work together. Like a Tardis, it was bigger than it looked so I took half to one of my dark-chocolate pals who summarized my reaction perfectly:

“Oh, wow” he said.

Art you can taste. Chocolopolis.

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