As particular as wine connoisseurs, chocolate snobs are precise about the purity, smoothness, and exquisite richness of their candies. To talk like a true aficionado, Ian Titterton, who is the chief chocolatier for Moonstruck (526 NW 23rd & 608 SW Alder), explains about "mouth-feel." A quality truffle, he says, should have a "nice melt." Moonstruck on 23rd carries dozens, from the tartish ginger truffle to the deep richness of their Café Mocha. "If there's a graininess, that means the sugar wasn't cooked well enough." Titterton goes on to add the word "snap" to the lexicon of descriptions for quality chocolate--the right mix of cocoa and top-notch chocolate beans should provide a sharp-as-a-whip pinch to the taste.

In spite of the preciseness and pride he shows his own truffles, Titterton concedes that store-bought, mass-produced chocolate bars have their place as well. "There's nothing wrong with chocolate if it does what it is supposed to do--take care of a craving and give a little buzz."

But for high-octane, top-shelf quality chocolate, Titterton recommends Trader Joe's. Also, Titterton likes the chocolate desserts--like Mocha Mascorpone Semifreddo and Velvet Giandija-- at Papa Haydn (701 NW 23rd).