Portland has an houte chocolate experience you won’t want to miss. Stepping into Verdun Fine Chocolates(421 NW 10th Avenue, 503.525.9400) is like slipping into a pair of Manolo Blahnik pumps. How sleek they are; how good you look! Nibbling at Verdun’s melt-in-your-mouth chocolates is a highly civilized experience.

These candies are made in Beirut, Lebanon, and are expensively dressed for their jet-plane journey to Portland in foil wrappers that make each one shimmer like a jewel itself.

If Lebanon seems like a strange location for a French-style chocolate factory, history explains why it’s not, says Hamoody Houdroge, Verdun’s owner. The French occupation after World War I introduced French foods, customs, and laws to the Lebanese. The cultural change was so pervasive that Lebanon’s first language is Arabic; its second is French. The French may have gone home, but the chocolates remain.

Sample Verdun’s Jordan almonds, so sweet and fresh. I think about the pink ones every day. Truly, if you ever feel like your tiara is slipping, nibble on a handful of these uplifting almond treats.

Our little trip into Northwest chocolate candy land has been anything but exhaustive. In this area of research, less is never more! Go grazing for Valentine’s Day gifts, and before you realize it, it’ll be time to search for the Easter goodies. Finally, the calendar is on our side.

*Seattle writer Alicia Arter is a regular contributor to Northwest Palate magazine.

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