Chocolate Fest, Tomato Dinner, Grilled Cheese Galore & More

Enjoy the fun at the sundae-eating contest. (Photo courtesy of the Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival)

16th Annual Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Fest

Celebrate all things wonderfully chocolate at the Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival in San Francisco, noon to 5 p.m. Sept. 10-11.

Enjoy chef demos, live entertainment, ice cream sundae eating contests, and plenty of chocolate to swoon over.

The event benefits Project Open Hand, a San Francisco-based organization that provides meals for people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as seniors.

Tickets are $20 each, which entitles you to taste 15 samples.

VIP “Sweet Sixteen” Affair tickets also are available for $50 each for a noon-4 p.m. special event on Sept. 10. You’ll forgo the lines to enjoy exclusive sweets, wine and music, along with your standard 15 sample tastes and full access to the rest of the festival.

Live Out the Fantasy of Being a Chef for a Day

You can do just that at Puccini & Pinetti Restaurant in San Francisco.

Under the tutelage of Executive Chef Richard Hodge, you will don chef whites, and get behind the line at this bustling Union Square restaurant. You’ll learn about food safety, shadow various cooks throughout the day, chop herbs, wash veggies and make pasta. Dress requirements include comfortable clothing and closed-toed, slip-resistant shoes. Participants also must be at least 18 years old, germ-free from colds or the flu, and willing to sign a release form.

The “Chef for a Day” experience is $125 for a five-hour shift and includes dinner afterward prepared by Hodge at the chef’s counter. Proceeds benefit the Larkin Street Youth Program, which helps provide services for homeless and at-risk youths.

To reserve a spot in the kitchen or to purchase a โ€œChef for a Dayโ€ gift certificate, call (415) 392-5500 and ask for Patricia Steinhauser.

Grilled cheese is the Wednesday specialty at Brick & Bottle. (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)

Grilled Cheese Wednesdays

Who doesn’t love gooey, melty cheese snuggled between two slabs of crisp, buttery bread?

Brick & Bottle in Corte Madera knows your weakness well. Each Wednesday, it’s featuring a specialty grilled cheese menu to tempt.

Enjoy a different type of grilled cheese sammy, a cup of soup, and a choice of fries or a salad — all for $15.

The sandwiches run the gamut from the “American Prosciutto” (with wild mushrooms, Gruyere, fried egg and sage) to the “Burrata” (spinach, truffle oil, poached egg and parsley).

Some of Baia Nicchia's wonderful tomatoes. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

Tomato Dinner and Demo

Geneticist-turned-farmer Fred Hempel of Baia Nicchia Farm in Sunol grows some of the most amazing and unique tomatoes around.

See for yourself, 6:30 p.m. Sept. 10, when Viognier restaurant in San Mateo features his lovely tomatoes in a special five-course menu for $85 per person. Wine pairings are an additional $40 per person.

Dishes will include compressed Cetriolo tomatoes with watermelon and pistachio; and heirloom tomato gumbo with pulled duck confit.

Chef Preston Dishman will demonstrate how to make each dish. and Hempel will explain the different varieties of tomatoes used.

For reservations, call (650) 685-3727.

Women Winemakers

Did you know that even in this day and age, only 9.8 percent of California wineries have a woman winemaker? And not surprisingly, Napa and Sonoma lead the way.

That’s just some of the fascinating data you’ll see on the new site, a comprehensive directory of women winemakers throughout the state. You’ll find their names, as well as a short bio of each and links to the wineries they’ve helped shape.

The non-profit site was put together by Lucia Albino Gilbert, professor of psychology and counseling psychology at Santa Clara University; and her husband, John Gilbert, a professor of chemistry & biochemistry and chair of that department at Santa Clara University. (Full disclosure: Their daughter is an acquaintance of mine.)

Both are avowed vino lovers who were inspired to create this useful site after enjoying visits to wine tasting rooms.

More about Baia Nicchia Farm: A Look at Farmer Fred Creating a Brand New Tomato

And: The Farm’s Specialty Teas

And: About Its Unusual CSA Program

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