Tag Archives | chocolate

Our Day of Decadence in SFO

Move over wine, there is a new industry in the Northern California: one that is creamier, cheaper, and won’t get your fired if you keep it in your desk drawer and partake all day.

Chocolate.

Sure, San Francisco is known for Ghirardelli; A chocolate so popular there is an entire city square named after it. But if you think Ghirardelli is the only chocolate maker in town, you will be missing out on the city’s emerging industry. Just Google artisan chocolate in San Francisco and you’ll get more than 200,000 hits!

The Bay area is quickly becoming the United States gourmet chocolate heart. Fueled by technology moguls who have given up buying vineyards and making wine with their millions (that’s so 1993), many of these dotcom wonders are turning to creating the next best thing: chocolate.

Chocolate San Francisco1000 Fights got an up close and personal tour of the city’s best chocolate stores and chocolatiers. As part of Gourmet Walks Chocolate Tour we got the 411 on the city’s best chocolate while learning about how chocolate is made and why you should eat it (not a problem for us). As part of an intimate tour, the group only had seven people. Now the Fighting Couple are very particular about tours. We don’t like big tours and we expect someone who knows their stuff. We got just the right kind of experience with the Gourmet Chocolate Tour. It was a small tour and Beth knew a lot about chocolate, but more about San Francisco. That’s the benefit of a tour, you get the chance to interact with locals, asking your questions and get a different perspective.

Our tour guide Beth began with some chocolate education by showing us what chocolate comes from: the cacao bean. We got to touch, smell and worship the bean. Beth explained the entire chocolate miracle: from the bean to production. We even got to taste the cacao nibs, which are cacao beans that have been roasted. It’s the rawest form of edible chocolate. We also learned why 1000 Fights loves white chocolate. It’s the fat of the bean. Yes, white chocolate is the cacao butter and unfortunately, doesn’t have the same health benefits as milk and dark chocolate. However, it won’t stop us from eating it.

How to eat ChocolateOur walking tour started at Justin Herman’s Plaza and moved into the bustling Ferry Building Market Place. We started at the self-proclaimed chocolate mecca, Scharffen Berger, where we got a first of many tastes as part of the Gourmet Walks. Just like fine wine, we were told to enjoy the chocolate experience. Instead of popping and chomping on the chocolate immediately, look at it, feel it, smell it and enjoy it. Let the taste sink into your palate and close your eyes. Absorb the chocolate and decipher the flavor. Does it taste of fruit, woods, milk or cream? Remember, wine and chocolate are some of the world’s finest substances, savor them.

The tour continued to Recchiuti’s, local chocolatier where we enjoyed spring Jasmine Tea Chocolate: Jasmine blossoms and green team infusion blended with pure dark chocolate and Burnt Caramel Chocolate: smoky burnt caramel infused in fresh cream with 70 percent dark chocolate paired with spring water. Recchiuti’s is gourmet chocolate on steroids. Just walking into the shop, makes you feel swanky. Even the walls are covered with its descriptions of chocolate heaven-including Lavender Vanilla Chocolates and my personal favorite, Lemon Verbena with organic local lemon verbena steeped into whole cream and blended into decadent chocolate ganache.

Next we continued through the Ferry Building to LaCocina, a local company which specializing in giving local food entrepreneurs a leg up. We had the opportunity to eat the up and coming NeoCocoa truffles including Salted Caramel Milk Chocolate Truffle with Hawaiian black lava sea salt and the seasonal Pumpkin Spice Truffle. If you go to San Francisco, check out the Ferry Building Marketplace. There aren’t just chocolates there. While we were on the tour, we found  ourselves wishing we had more time to come back and take it in a bit more.

ChocolateAs Beth led us out of the Ferry Building, we started towards Fog City News. In true San Francisco style, we saw a protest. Free Tibet! Locals will say if you don’t see a protest or someone scantily clad or less, you haven’t seen the true San Francisco. As we snaked along the city, we stopped in on Fog City News. The news stand and chocolate shop carries any magazine from any country you want and the chocolate to go with it. The staff personally tries every chocolate offered and I interrogated them, “What does this taste like, do you recommend it, what else would you buy?” The staff knew the answers! You can get chocolate from the world at Fog City News as well as local Northern California favorites. I bought Maison Bouche’s Fleur de Pecher (that’s a peach blossom chocolate for those of you in Lake Woebegone) and Ginger Elizabeth’s Vanilla Been Toffee Almond Desert Bar.

LeonidasAt every stop on the tour, we tasted the incredible offerings, including hot chocolate (at Leonidas) and the opportunity to buy chocolate. The tour even offered a discount card. It made a dent into the $80 worth of chocolate I bought along the way. Beth told us to pace ourselves with the chocolate. I did well until the sixth stop and by then I couldn’t fit anymore chocolate in my stomach. Luckily, we could take it in our “to go bag,” that included Swiss Chocolate maker Teuscher’s famous champagne truffles, obsessed by celebrities including Oprah.  One of the biggest takeaways from the tour is that unlike wine, fine chocolate won’t run you hundreds of dollars. The most expensive chocolate in the world is a fraction of the price of the world’s most expensive wine. For a couple of dollars, you can get a piece of chocolate flown in from the capitals of Europe or better yet, Northern California!

White ChocolateThe three hour tour ended at the Piece de Resistance: CocoaBella Chocolates in the Westfield San Francisco Center for even more tasting and explanations of the chocolate industry. CocoaBella carries designer chocolates from around the world. If it’s not beautiful and tastes amazing, CocoaBella doesn’t carry it. I couldn’t resist buying the Vanilla Cupcake Chocolate made with sweet cream and vanilla frosting ganache mixed with tiny cake pieces from Norman Love, a chocolatier in Florida or Turin Italy’s Guido Gobino’s Peppermint Infused White Chocolate. I bought the most chocolate here, including CocoaBella’s Hazelnut Toffee with Alaea Hawaiian Salt. Luckily, I have hid it where no one in my family can find it.

There’s no better way to spend an afternoon in San Francisco than walking around the iconic city and tasting the mind blowing, marriage altering, moan inducing chocolate of the town. We highly recommend Gourmet Walks. We can’t wait to go back and check out their other tours. After all we, left our heart and more chocolate we’d like to taste in San Francisco.

 

A special thank you goes out to our friends at Gourmet Walks who provided this experience.  Check them out next time you are in San Francisco.

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World’$ Richest Dessert!

Sweet Indulgence at Serendipity 3 New York

Serendipity 3 is more than just a coffee shop; this boutique eatery situated in Manhattans Upper East Side is a tourist destination in its own right.  This kitsch ice cream parlour is a treat for both adults and children alike and with the wait for a table sometimes being a little on the long side the interesting decor and memorabilia on the walls

of Serendipity’s rich history should provide some entertainment whilst you wait.

Once inside the marble topped ice cream parlour tables and opulent Victorian decoration adds to the sense that this really is no ordinary coffee shop, open since 1954 this Upper East Side townhouse just a few steps from Bloomingdales has welcomed visitors from Andy Warhol to Beyonce to the cast of High School Musical.

Children are kept happy here with the fun food on offer, giant foot long hotdogs, gargantuan cheese burgers and meatloaf with mash and gravy is sure to fill them up and keep them quiet for at least a little while. Serendipity 3 though is not about the main courses, instead they are a mere obstacle you must get through, due to the restaurants policy on a minimum spend per person, this is the place for sweet indulgence with some of the most delicious desserts in New York City.

The most famous of which is the Frozen Hot Chocolate, big enough to share – or get your own to avoid any arguments, this is one sweet treat that must be tried on a visit to Serendipity 3.  This large dessert is a foodie’s heaven, providing you have a sweet tooth of course, a mountain of frozen hot chocolate, whipped cream, chocolate chunks and plenty of sugar.  And if you love it as much as many that visit the ice-cream parlour have before, you can even buy specially prepared mixes to help you make the treat from the Serendipity 3 website, if you are a little more adventurous in the kitchen you can even have a go at recreating the dessert with the recipe that has been a secret for over 50 years recently been made available to the public.

The most exuberant of the Serendipity 3 menu has to be The Golden Opulence Sundae, causing I’m sure its fair share of fights when choosing dessert. This dessert consisting of ice cream made from Madagascar vanilla beans and chunks of rare chocolate from Venezuela drizzled with Amedei Porcelena, some of the world’s most expensive chocolates and covered with marzipan cherries, gold covered almonds and chocolate truffles. If that wasn’t opulent enough the dessert is finished with a serving of sweet Grande Passion Caviar, 23 carat gold leaf and this is all served in a Baccarat Crystal goblet, that is yours to keep and an 18 carat spoon to eat it all with! Coming in at a grand total of $1000, this dessert holds the Guinness World Record title as the most expensive sundae in the world.  Just hope your other half isn’t in the mood for some caviar with their ice cream otherwise you could be in for an expensive meal out!

Charlotte writes for new travel site Simonseeks.com and if you are looking to visit Serendipity 3 or New York, you might want to also look at the top rated recommended New York hotels on Simonseeks, where you can find inspirational travel guides and expert advice.

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