Don’t hate me when I tell you that I spent last Saturday afternoon wandering the streets of San Francisco sampling chocolate — exquisite, hand-crafted chocolate from around the world — with a professional chocolate enthusiast as my guide.
I knew that there was a thriving artisan chocolate scene here in the Bay Area, but what I didn’t know is that in just over a mile (the distance from the landmark Ferry Building Marketplace to Union Square) you can find a dazzling array of chocolate from every corner of the globe that traverses the most traditional styles to farthest frontiers of new wave chocolate-making. It really blew my mind to learn that the whole world of chocolate is sitting right here on my doorstep… I just needed to know where to look. As an example, one of our most unusual tour stops was Fog City News on Market Street (yes, it really is a news stand). Way back when, they started stocking a few selections of specialty chocolate alongside the usual m&m’s and snickers, and over time their collection has grown to the hundreds, comprising bars, bon bons and truffles from dozens of countries. As a bonus, you can also find tons of hard to find publications including more than 20 international editions of Vogue magazine!!
Beth, our friendly tour guide from Gourmet Walks (can you say best job in the world?), took us to seven destination-worthy shops for tastings and shared lots of history and facts along the way, vastly deepening my appreciation of the noble cocoa bean. I can’t say that the walk was rigorous enough to counteract all those velvety bites in their smoked salt-sprinkled, burnt caramel-drizzled, tea-infused glory but I can say I came home with one of the best doggie bags ever.
[If you don’t have the chance to take Gourmet Walks’ chocolate tour, try the Ferry Building Marketplace or Bi-Rite Market for a selection of some of the top chocolate being made right here in the Bay Area. Also check out our food adventure to Chocolatier Blue in Berkeley. ]
* * * *
My Gourmet Walks tour came courtesy of Cloud 9 Living which offers an impressive selection of thoughtfully curated “experience” gifts for every kind of person on your list — from chocolate lovers to adrenaline junkies. With the holidays coming up, you’ll find inspiration to make that someone special’s day (or year!) with a surfing lesson, flying trapeze class, stock car ride along or photo safari. You might even find something to add to your own holiday wish list. There’s a lot of great stuff to choose from, so go check ’em out!