"One vice at a time" is the guiding principle at the Chocolate Bar, Blake Brokaw's new confectionery in Lafayette Square. It's a smoke- and alcohol-free place to indulge in some of the finest chocolates in the world. Sip a cup of chocolate laced with chiles, cinnamon or vanilla and capped with a head of froth, the way Brazilians drink it. The Chocolate Bar -- 1915 Park Ave., 314-421-2626 -- also carries truffles, brownies, cookies, cakes and nonchocolate pastries. One day last week, for example, the shop offered a Mirabella-plum tart, a deep-dish apple pie and a caramelized-pear tart.
Brokaw imports chocolate with a cocoa content as high as 75 percent, which ensures a long shelf life, few air bubbles, smooth melting properties and a silky feel on the palate. He fashions the chocolate into blocks, truffles, lollipops, shell-molded shapes such as Easter eggs and other products. His chocolate comes from single-estate cacao beans grown on plantations in Venezuela, Mexico, Tanzania, Cuba, New Guinea and San Dominique. Because the fermented, dried cacao bean is one of Brazil's top three exports -- along with coffee and sugar -- we can't think of a sweeter way to chase a meal at Yemanja than with the "food of the gods" at the Chocolate Bar.