It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, chocolate is always a wonderful treat—for someone you know or for yourself. It also doesn’t matter what time of day, either. A dark chocolate truffle melting in your mouth with that first cup of coffee or tea. Or as a small delight on the palate after lunch or dinner.

Or while reading a good book.

Yes, I love chocolate, but for me, it has to be dark and good quality. When I travel, I look for chocolate shops selling handmade or imported chocolate. Here are two of my favorite places to get good quality chocolate whether you visit in person or order online.

Mon Aimee ( is a shop my husband and I discovered on a trip back to his hometown of Pittsburgh to see family. Pittsburgh has a place called The Strip where restaurateurs and other chefs and cooks go to buy fresh meat, fish, and produce, great Italian pastas and breads, as well as other gustatory delights. While I enjoy shopping at these other venues, I love stepping into Mon Aimee where the selection of specialty and artisanal, and domestic and imported chocolates from around the world is a little bit of heaven. And the aroma! The sales people are helpful and knowledgeable whether you are buying a $3 bar or a $10 bar (Armano Montanya, Limited Edition). The challenge here is making up your mind which to try among the broad selection.

My youngest son is responsible for introducing me to my other favorite chocolate place, Marie Belle ( He discovered it while living and working in New York City and looking for a birthday present for me. Knowing of my passion for dark chocolate, he bought me a selection of Marie Belle’s boxed chocolates (which are works of art both in taste and surface design—no kidding!), and a container of their hot chocolate which comes in half of a dozen different flavors like Aztec, Maya, and Spicy Hot. I have the Aztec. Let me tell you, a little hot water and you have a hot chocolate that is thick and dark and, well, just plain sinful. Woo-hoo!

The lovely thing about both these companies is that you can order online and have the chocolate shipped. So go ahead. Treat yourself. Then pick up a good book.