Serotonin Rush

Somehow, even though it’s still nice and warm outside, I’m starting to get the cravings that hit me every autumn. Thick, rich, bittersweet hot chocolate. This delicious combination cures all ills.

Last March I went with a bunch of girlfriends to Venice, a city renowned for its cioccolata calda, and we had the elixir every freezing day (and yet somehow managed to lose weight. Hmm… maybe Italian women don’t get fat either).

So I went out in search of this chocolate holy grail. A little mid-afternoon pick-me-up.

I’ve noticed several places have been marketing “European-style hot chocolate” but I haven’t been impressed yet. Dean & Deluca’s was too milky. The guy at Au Bon Pain didn’t even know how to make the “Choco Con Loco” advertised.

But today I found it – a delectable approximation of the classic at Artizen Cafe, downtown at 12th and E. This little place tries hard to be like an Italian espresso bar, but don’t be put off by the over-earnestness. The apricot rugelach was yummy, and I’ll definitely be back to try the interesting-looking lunch assortments of panini and salads.

But it’s their hot chocolate that may prove my doom. I could stick a spoon in the cup I’m enjoying right now. Lush – almost too lush, but that’s the point. Drink it til you’re sick with richness. Then the afternoon will fly by in a haze of serotonin dreams – wait, is that Marcello Mastroianni in my cube? Sigh….

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