Food: Purer Delights

All a chocoholic once needed to know was the difference between truffles and nut clusters. Not anymore. The latest trend in fancy food is "single origin" chocolate. Instead of being made from a blend of cacao beans, it contains a single type of bean from one country. And connoisseurs discuss it in the same reverent terms usually reserved for fine wines--polished, fruity, beautifully rounded. Is there really a difference?

To find out, we tried the new Single Origin Chocolate Tasting Kit from the Guittard Chocolate Co. ($15.95; ). It includes 16 miniature bars--four each from four countries. All contain exactly the same ingredients in the same proportions. Yet even our unrefined taste buds could detect a difference between the selections: from Colombia ("pleasant hints of peppery spice," according to the enclosed booklet), Venezuela, Madagascar and Ecuador ("floral flavors with hints of green forest"). Skeptics say the roast and processing of the beans affect taste more than origin. But we say, vive la différence