Monday, September 17, 2007

ChocolateBet: September 24, 2006

I'm still joyously working on my chocolate stash from a birthday-related trip to San Francisco recently. Today, I'm eating a Scharffen Berger dark chocolate truffle (purchased in one of the great shops in the SF Ferry Building). It's very good.

A few years ago I went on a tour through the Scharffen Berger chocolate (factory/plant?) over in Berkeley, CA, with some great creative friends. That same day, we also stopped at a reptile emporium, a coffee shop, a shop that carried lots of rolls of beautiful hand-made papers, some with detailed Asian prints, and other Berkeley and UC Berkeley-related haunts. I seem to remember trying some sake somewhere as well. It was a very enjoyable day out.

The chocolate tour part of the day was great. The Scharffen Berger folks started the tour with a small lecture that talked about the sources of and making of chocolate. They passed around cocoa nibs to taste (nice crunchy, nutty taste), and pictures of cocoa pods growing from trunks of trees, and in various stages of being cut open - with the seeds being harvested, fermented, roasted, etc. We then got to walk around the plant - and from what I can remember, we saw vast kettles of molten chocolate, and machines spinning, stirring, clanking - performing different functions in different rooms. The smells were intoxicating. There were jokes about oompa-loompas lurking around corners of the factory, a reference to the little people that had appeared in the movie "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." I recommend this tour if you're in the San Francisco area and they are still offering this tour to the public. Best to call ahead though. I think you need reservations.

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