Hail to the ginger-flavored hazelnut-accented chocolate truffle

Loose end No. 1: the chocolatier and Washington Redskins fan mentioned in the Miami Herald way back when I first started. As I should have guessed, his shop is EXACTLY DIRECTLY NEXT DOOR to the Alpine Hut of Cheese. The adjoining shop. Not sure how I never noticed that.

I went there this morning with Style writer Libby Copeland and IT whiz Aimee Sanders, who had each bought something called the ChocoPass, allowing them to have chocolate samples all over town. The Official Redskins Chocolate Shop of these games was on their list.

As the Herald's Linda Robertson wrote, Massimo Gertosio, who runs this shop with his father, is a former left tackle for Giaguari Torino, the Jaguars, a local amateur American football team that quotes Lou Holtz on its homepage. You won't believe why he prefers American football to its European cousin.

"I don't like soccer," he said. "The people play only for fame or money, not just for sport. It could be also for American football, but I know the players work for a target. They take it from the high school to the NFL, step by step."

Amazing, right? All these American hipsters love international futbol because of its purity or something, and now here's a European who loves American football because of its hard-working, non-money-grubbing, goal-oriented players. I guess we'd all like sports more if our heroes worked 3,000 miles away. Seriously, if you couldn't understand what your heroes were saying, and if you didn't have to get slammed in the face with their foibles and contract squabbles every day, and if you didn't have to watch them doing half-naked situps in their driveway, maybe the "spoiled athlete" talk would disappear and all would seem pure in the world of sports. Which is why all of you should pledge to make the Kiwi Curlers the focus of your sporting universe. You'll never read anything negative about them, and therefore, you can shower them with your unconditional love.

Anyhow, as a kid, Massimo was introduced to American football, and since his playing career coincided with the glory days of Gibbs I, he became a 'Skins fan, although he completely blanked when I asked whether he could sing "Hail to the Redskins."

"In the '80s years, I preferred of course the offensive line," he explained. "My perfect player, of course, was Jim Lachey. In 1991 I won, how can I say, it's like the NFC in Italy. My team in Italy was the best, so we won the Cup. It was the same year, 1991, the Redskins won and I got married. So it was a real great year."

But Gertosio does not follow the Redskins much nowadays (and sadly, it's not because of their owner). He said you must pay to watch NFL games in Italy, and he works so much in the world of fine gourmet chocolates that he doesn't have time for much NFL Internet browsing. (He did root for the Steelers in the Super Bowl, because the Giaguari use a similar black-and-gold color scheme.) Massimo doesn't play football anymore, either; he retired a few years ago, and is preparing to take over the shop from his father, who will soon retire.

"It's almost thinking about my work 24 hours," he said. "But I promise to follow [the Redskins] again."

(We did meet a woman in the shop, Franca Quaglia, who used to live in Syracuse and now resides directly above Gertosio's shop, where she is surrounded by the perfume of chocolate and croissants. And she ripped on French cheese. Just killed the stuff.

"French cheese, they taste alike," she said. "The Italian cheese, from North to South, such a difference. There are so many. You move from one little town to another, completely different. I think Italian cheese is better than French cheese." If it weren't a Saturday evening at the end of the Olympics, this could have made Shani vs. the Hottie look like the Care Bears go to Sunday School. International cheese lovers would have been at each other's throats. Drat.)

As is my habit, I also asked the Redskins-loving chocolatier Massimo whether he liked cheese. And after a flawless run through nearly three weeks, during which every single person I met loved cheese, I finally whiffed.

"No, no, no, not so much," he said. "Not particularly. I know that cheese contains saturated fats, is not good for blood. For the immediate energy, chocolate is much better."

By Dan Steinberg |  February 25, 2006; 3:43 PM ET
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