“Leaving my Heart in San Francisco” by the ChocolatGirl
Visit the Golden Gate Bridge. Visit Al Catraz. Visit Pier 39. Shop at Macy’s. Shop at Nordstrom. Have an ice latte at Union Square. Dine at Nob Hill. If you’re planning on a trip to San Francisco and you’ve got these things on your list, be sure to check out the San Franciso chocolatiers too! San Francisco is known for its chocolate heritage with chocolate pioneers who have been in the Bay Area since the 19th century ‘Gold Rush’ era. Some Bay Area chocolatiers have also gained international popularity and one such example is Ghirardelli.
So I was on holiday in the Bay Area, and apart from all that shopping, which burnt a gigantic hole in my clutch purse, I went on a sugar spree and here are my top Five Frisco Favourites!
Complete with a Chocolate Manufactory!
You can pretty much get Ghirardelli chocolate in Singapore, but checking out Ghirardelli’s flagship store at San Francisco’s Ghirardelli Square is a must! Ghirardelli is the second oldest chocolate company in the United States, founded in 1852, and the Square used to be the former site for its headquarters in the 1890s.
The Ghirardelli retail section at the Square is lined up with a rainbow of Ghirardelli chocolate bars that come with all types of fillings like peanut butter, vanilla, raspberry, mint and caramel. And since it’s the Halloween season, the Ghirardelli Pumpkins and Black Cats were decked out in trick’o treat orange and black Halloween fashion.
Be sure to treat yourself to tea at the adjoining Ghirardelli café, where you could order Ghirardelli specials like hot chocolate or ice cream and waffles. While waiting for your order, kill time by taking a mini tour of the Ghirardelli Chocolate Manfactory within the café where you can view the whole chocolate-making process – how cocoa beans are roasted, malanguered and conched! Fascinating! The demonstrations use real chocolate, so you could see how Ghirardelli produces its hot fudge and chocolate toppings, which are served at the soda fountain! All that swirling and tumbling of chocolate made my mouth water that I actually ordered two waffles that dripped with Ghirardelli chocolate sauce, and finished both of them. For real. This calls for extra time on the treadmill at the gym.
Ghirardelli Square is at 900 North Point Street, Suit 100, San Francisco, CA 94109
The Chocolate Factory
The Place for Chocolate Knick-Knacks!
Located just slightly off the San Francisco tourist grid, The Chocolate Factory is a hidden gem. Whether you’re a bookworm or a sports enthusiast, who says you can’t love chocolates too? Check out the chocolate Book Lovers’ Collection and Sports Lovers’ Collection!
Most people I know rave about the awesome cute “Got Milk” Collection, which includes moo-moo stuffed animals, chocolate bars and syrups. If I was heading for a girlfriend’s baby shower, I would totally get the toddler mugs and baby clothing as gifts!
I’m the sort of girl who loves her coffee on a weekday at work, tea on a Saturday afternoon, wine for dinners and chocolate all the time! So I love how The Chocolate Factory specially pairs chocolate to go with beverages like coffee, tea and wine! Take the Wine Lovers’ Collection for instance, which pairs different types of wines with chocolate of different cocoa percentages. So if you’re planning on opening a bottle of Merlot, try having a 58% dark chocolate to go with your preferred wine.
The Chocolate Factory is at 286 12th Street San Francisco, CA 94103 (between Kissling St & Folsom Street)
From Bean to Bar
When it comes to favourite chocolate brands, Scharffen Berger ranks one of the top on my list. Founded in the Bay Area in 1996, Scharffen Berger takes pride in its chocolate-making process from “bean to bar”, which means selecting cacao beans from specific cacao growers and performing the processes to transform the beans into chocolate from roasting, to conching, to tempering and finally molding. You see, most big chocolate brands acquire their chocolate wholesale from chocolate manufacturers, so you wouldn’t know where your cacao beans originate from.
Because Scharffen Berger follows its cacao beans every step of the way, the result is absolute quality chocolate where you can literally smell the cacao even before breaking the chocolate wrapping. While most cacao beans are sourced from Latin America or South Africa, Scharffen Berger began experimenting with cacao beans from Vietnam called the “Ben Tre”, which is a rare find! Other single-bean origin chocolates, which use cacao beans grown from a specific region, are made from Madagascar and Grenada cacao beans, with their own tasting notes. I can’t wait for the day that Scharffen Berger finds itself in Singapore!
I digress, but the Scharffen Berger story is an interesting one. The search for quality chocolate that made Scharffen Berger what it is today began with a physician, Robert Steinberg who sold his practice after being diagnosed with cancer, and found a second career in chocolate making together with his friend and business partner John Scharffenberger. It is written on the Scharffen Berger homepage that “Steinberg somehow managed to make this last phase of his life an incredible adventure of discovery, dedication and perseverance.”
Scharffen Berger is at Embarcadero Ferry Building Store, 1 Ferry Building, Marketplace #14, San Francisco, CA 94111
The Chic Couture of Chocolate
Recchiuti is situated at the historic Ferry Terminal along the Embarcadero waterfront, and offers a variety of creative treats. Its chic minimalist packaging is testament that sometimes less can be more. Don’t be fooled by products names like ‘KLA’, ‘KLP’ and ‘FSC’, its not the short form for something in a foreign language. ‘KLA simply means Key Lime Apples, while ‘KLP’ are Key Lime Pears, which are delicate paper-thin slices of dark chocolate-coated fruits that are refreshing to the tastebuds. I was also tickled to find Recchiuti’s version of a traditional American campfire favourite, S’Mores, which is essentially graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate eaten together. Recchiuti’s S’More Bites are a combination of bittersweet chocolate and marshmallows that are filled with air for that extra fluff that puts you on Cloud 9.
If you’re planning on getting some pralines, Recchiuti has a good praline collection for pairing with beverages such as whiskey, red wine, spirits and even beer! As a wine lover, I thought the Star Anise & Pink Peppercorn praline and a Californian Cabernet Sauvignon were perfect partners! O yes, and if you love jam, Recchiuti’s Burnt Caramel sauce is to die for. I’m most definitely keeping this place on tabs on my next visit to the Bay Area.
Recchiuti is at Embarcadero Ferry Building Store, 1 Ferry Building, Marketplace #30, San Francisco, CA 94111
Cocoa Belle du Jour
Another San Fran-grown brand that has quality artisanal chocolate is CocoaBella that is situated at the Nordstrom. You can literally smell the cocoa coming from the pralines that are decked out on display, a prelude of good things to come! The praline designs are as fascinating as the flavours that come with them. I like the classic favourites such as the Milk Pecan Turtle and the Peanut Butter Patty, but venturing on to the more unique pieces of the collection, my choices would be the tangy Lemongrass, the milk chocolate Cinnamon as well as the Tequilla Lime praline that comes in shades of green.
Cocoa Bella is at 2101 Union Street, San Francisco, CA 94123 and at Westfield San Francisco Centre, 845 Market Street San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94103 (between 4th and 5th Street)
So that’s my Top Five Frisco Favourites. I’m jet setting off to Los Angeles now. So stay tune my dear readers, so much more awaits down in LA! Til then.