Sunday, September 09, 2007

Things I learned about chocolate

1. White chocolate is made of cocoa butter, sugar and milk. None of the dark cacao bean, which in my opinion makes dark chocolate so superior.
2. For something to be called chocolate, it must contain a minimum of 10% chocolate (the average chocolate Hershey's bar.
3. The mass chocolate producers are lobbying to substitute vegetable oil (cheaper) for cocoa butter. Read more about that here.

Most importantly, I learned that there is something as too much chocolate, even for me.

In case you don't know, I LOVE chocolate. So when my friend Heather forwarded me this email for a San Francisco Gourmet Chocolate Tour, of course I responded with an enthusiastic YES!

There were five of us aside from Andrea our tourguide: me, Kevin, Heather, Karen and another woman named Julie.

We started at the Ferry Building. Our first destination was Scharffen-Berger where we each got to choose two Joseph Schmidt truffles (I chose the Grand Marnier and sea salt caramel truffles) and we sampled a Scharffen-Berger dark chocolate bar.(I promise that I will never again post a photo of me or anyone eating.)

Then we went to Recchiuti where Jackie Recchiuti (part of the husband-wife team behind these delicious confections) made a personal introduction and fulfilled our chocolate requests. I enjoyed a Fleur de Sel Caramel (a smaller and more sublime version of the JS sea salt and caramel) and a dark chocolate with mandarin orange essence. I think these were the best chocolates on the tour.

After that we walked over to Fog City News on Market Street. They carry more than 200 different kinds of chocolates from all over the world. FCN is where you can find such gems as the Bacon Chocolate Bar, Grey Poppy, and Banana Curry (pictured at left). Alex, the owner of FCN, took us aside and did a blind tasting of various chocolates. We gave our impressions of the chocolates, we cleansed our palettes with saltine crackers, and after the tasting, Alex revealed the type of chocolates we ate. This was the most fun experience of the tour.

Our next stop was to Citizen Cupcake, where I thought we would be imbibing on some drinking chocolate, but it was just regular hot chocolate. So it was somewhat of a disappointment, but it provided a nice rest from the walking.

We headed up to Union Square and ducked into the Ghiradelli store for a quick free sample. Then headed to Richart Chocolates, the fancy French chocolatier. The fancy designs on the chocolates reminded me a bit of the old Nagel art, like on the Duran Duran Rio album.
And lastly, we went to Teuscher, a Swiss truffle and chocolate maker. By this time, I had ingested so much chocolate, I couldn't eat any more. I saved my two truffles (mint and champagne) for the next morning and chased them down with a good old fashioned hot chocolate from Semifreddis.


VDog said...

Have you done the Scharffen Berger tour? It's very informative, and there are PLENTY of samples going around while the guy blabs on about cacao beans and stuff.

There's a new place in e'ville called Charles chocolates and they apparently do a tour too.

s.j.simon said...

lol. did you know that chocolate was banned in switzerland for many years. read this