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IN THE KITCHEN

AROUND HOME : Notes on Southwest Dishes, Wood Turning and Cesca Chairs : Oh, Eaux!

July 10, 1988|RUTH REICHL

EUROPEANS, who generally know how to do things right gastronomically, have interesting ideas about the proper procedure for putting an end to eating. Oh, Americans occasionally bring out the brandy, and if they're especially sophisticated they may even offer Armagnac, but that is usually the extent of the post-prandial profferings. Meanwhile, in Italy, these highly alcoholic beverages are widely (and wisely) known as digestivos because people who partake of Marc and other eaux de vie ("waters of life") generally feel better than those who don't.

But things here are starting to improve. A California company, St. George Spirits, has been distilling pears, quinces, raspberries, cherries and even kiwis into fabulously aromatic clear liquors that could make the after-dinner drink positively patriotic. And now they have given their wonderful eaux de vie a sweet new touch. They have made them into candy!

The company teamed up with Cocolat, the California company that first made chocolate truffles chic. Cocolat enrobes the various fruit liquors in a coat of smooth chocolate; the result is California Eau de Vie Chocolates, the world's most grown-up candy. Each little ball of chocolate has a very spirited heart that shocks your mouth with its power, then soothes all the way down.

The best way to eat the candies is to stick the ball of chocolate into your mouth and wait until it melts down to the liquor. It's such a perfect way to conclude an evening that you'll anxiously await the end of the meal.

Each box of California Eau de Vie Chocolates contains two quince, two raspberry, two kiwi, two pear Williams and two kirsch-filled candies and costs $12. Available at Bullocks Wilshire, Los Angeles.

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