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Amsterdam Good Chocolate

With the first round of champagne, images from the wedding scene in "The Godfather" flashed above our heads, and we shouted over the very loud soundtrack. With the second round of champagne, footage of Jackie O and Ari on his yacht during their happier days appeared while Maria Callas provided a heartbreaking aria through oversize speakers. A crystal disco ball showered diamonds across our leopard-skin tablecloth and pussy willow centerpiece.

A masseuse offered her services ($20); artists painted guests' portraits in chocolate; the wait staff put on a floor show with lip-syncing and sashaying. Our waiter, who kept hopping up on the bar and passing dishes above his head to a waitress on the mezzanine level, was dressed in a long brown caftan with white piping -- cute as a Hostess cupcake. The bathrooms were labeled Homo and Hetero, the latter being unisex.


Diners indulge at the Supperclub's chocolate dinner in Amsterdam. (Karen Tam)

The food was delicious, the combinations unusual, the portions small -- so you never felt full -- and the courses leisurely paced. The scallops lay on a bed of purslane and watercress with cacao and sesame seeds; the risotto was topped with a jumbo shrimp baked in oil and white chocolate. Demitasses of melted chocolate and cream were sprinkled with fresh crushed black pepper.

The crowd was just as tangy. We met employees of a film production company celebrating their annual Christmas party, a couple in advertising, a woman who consults for grocery stores, a fashion designer. Sitting to my right was a Prince William lookalike who worked for a promotions firm that had something to do with the filming of "Oceans 12" in Amsterdam. We called it a night after we got the scoop on Brad Pitt.

Shopping the next day, we ran into two young women who had been at the dinner. They told us that after dessert, guests started dancing on the beds and things got pretty wild. Hmm . . . just like our teenage slumber parties.

The next morning we woke up in our cozy hotel, where ironically the requested twin beds were bolted together without a hair of separation, and carefully, after our libations the night before, navigated the narrow stairs from our third-floor accommodations to the breakfast room. What should be on the buffet but hagelslag, the little chocolate sprinkles the Dutch love to scatter on their bread.

"Chocolate has four times the antioxidants of green tea," Karen said as we blanketed our morning toast. We debated the merits of chocolate over coffee -- calories vs. cancer prevention -- and, after a second slice of bread, adjusted our vacation schedule. With endorphins dancing, we set off to do our holiday shopping with an added mission: Visit as many of Amsterdam's renowned chocolatiers as we could.

Over charming humpback bridges, down narrow streets, dodging bicyclists all the while, we went in search of the city's lively outdoor markets, our shopping malls without walls. On the way to Noordermarkt, best known for its Monday rummage sale of furniture, tableware, secondhand clothing and costume jewelry, we passed Unlimited Delicious, a 10-minute walk from Central Station and just in time for a morning bonbon break.

Owner Kees Raat, who created the cake for the Supperclub dinner, also offers bonbon-making classes. His chocolates are small but pack a wallop of taste. He specializes in designer flavors: tarragon sea salt, tomato balsamic, red pepper, tea and cardamom. Given the time of day, we stuck to caramel orange and coffee.

Next stop: Puccini Bomboni, which we happened upon while ambling down Staalstraat, en route to the famous Waterlooplein flea market with its antiques and curios, African art, Indian textiles and general household castoffs. The small high-tech sweet shop has large glass windows, gracefully curving stainless-steel display tables, silver shelving and views of the spotless chocolate factory and kitchen. Mounds of chocolates are clearly visible from the sidewalk, artfully displayed and conveniently labeled in English.


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