The makings of an artisan root beer float at Bloom cafe inside Dandelion Chocolate factory in San Francisco.
There are ladies who lunch.
And then there are ladies who chocolate.
Count me in the latter category. And from the looks of a recent weekday afternoon at Bloom Chocolate Salon, I am hardly alone.
The spectacular chocolate salon by San Francisco’s Dandelion Chocolate certainly provides plenty of eye candy. Melding industrial with a chic European aesthetic, it is a chocoholic’s Shangri-la come to sweet life.
Established in 2010 by techies Todd Masonis and Cameron Ring co-founded Plaxo, San Francisco’s only bean-to-bar chocolate factory expanded big-time in April — spending five years on construction to turn a 107-year-old mattress and printing factory into a chocolate factory, retail store, and chic dessert salon.
The historic warehouse.
Customers filing in for coffee and pastries.
Enter the brick building, as I did recently when I was invited in as a guest of the cafe, and on your right is a store with shelves loaded with pottery, books, and Dandelion chocolate bars (with sample cups holding broken bar bits to try).
Ready to enjoy sips and noshes from Soulva, Hawker Fare, Trick Dog, Dandelion Chocolate, Humphry Slocombe, Nopa, August 1 Five, and so many more, all in one spot for one night only?
You can at the ninth annual “Taste of Potrero,” 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. May 2 at The Midway, 900 Marin St. in San Francisco. Yes, it’s on a Thursday night. But Thursday is the new Friday, isn’t it?
More than 60 of the Bay Area’s best restaurants, bars, breweries and winemakers will come together for this annual fund-raiser for Daniel Webster Elementary School in San Francisco. All proceeds from the event go to the school, providing more than 75 percent of the Home and School Club budget, as well as arts enrichment programs, classroom supplies, computer instruction and literacy professionals. Since 2011, this event has raised more than $760,000 for the school.
Tickets are $150 each for general admission; $250 each for VIP access that allows you early access starting at 6 p.m.
CONTEST: One lucky Food Gal reader will win a pair of free tickets (valued at a total of $300) to the event, which will feature The Morris, Gibson, Dumpling Time, Oren’s Hummus, The Slanted Door, and more.
The contest, open to those who can make it to the event that date, will run through midnight PST April 27. Winner will be announced April 29.
How to win?
Take a taste of the three new flavors of Sante Nuts. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)
Santé Nuts New Candied Flavors
The South Bay’s maker of gourmet nuts, Santé Nuts, has debuted three new flavors: Chocolate Almonds, Pumpkin Spice Pecans, and Bourbon Pecans.
The family-owned company was started by single mom Sara Tidhar, who parlayed her home-made recipes for candied and spiced nuts into a booming business. Her son and daughter now both work in the company, too.
I had a chance to try samples recently. What I especially love about all these nuts is that they maintain a pronounced crunchiness even with their coatings.
The Chocolate Almonds are a nice change of pace from the usual hard-shelled, candy-coated chocolate almonds. Rather than a shell of chocolate, these almonds get a coating of sugared crackling cocoa powder. That means the flavor of the almonds still sings through loud and clear without getting overtaken by the cocoa that adds a nice deep dark chocolate accent. There’s also a touch of salt that adds perfect balance.
A great start to a Valentine’s Day.
Yes, roses are lovely.
But chocolate is where it’s at.
At least that’s my philosophy for Valentine’s Day.
And nobody makes chocolate like Burlingame’s Guittard Chocolate Company, a family-owned craft chocolate maker that celebrated its 150th year in business in 2018.
In honor of that monumental anniversary, Guittard created a limited-edition Eureka Works 62 Percent bar, named after the first factory that founder Etienne Guittard set up in San Francisco in 1868.
It’s a blend of cacao beans from its earliest sourcing locations: Indonesia, Hawaii, Ecuador and Brazil. What’s more a portion of proceeds from every bar sold will go to the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Fund, a not-for-profit that works to preserve the rarest cacao trees that produce the highest quality chocolate and to help the farmers who grow them.
Guittard’s special, limited-edition Eureka Works chocolate.
The huge 500g bar ($29.95 on the Guittard Web site) is lovely to look at — molded with a nifty cacao bean imprint design. And the taste? I was fortunate enough to receive a sample recently. It’s a smooth, complex chocolate that tastes prominently of dark cherries and a touch of pineapple. It has some acidity and bitterness, but in measured amounts to let the fruitiness of the bar shine through.
Hooray! This homemade version of chocolate popcorn is pretty darn close to the one I fell for in Seattle.
Ever since a trip to Seattle last year, I have been obsessed with chocolate popcorn.
My first taste of this crunchy, chocolatey treat came courtesy of the Cinerama movie theater in downtown Seattle, where the marquee not only flashes its availability in bright lights, but the intoxicating smell of it wafts out its doors.
The late Paul Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft, bought the iconic theater and proceeded to seriously up the game on the concession stand. Fortunately, you can even walk into the lobby and buy some of this popcorn without even buying a ticket to a movie.
That’s what my husband and I did after our interest — and nostrils — were piqued. On the second to last day of our trip, we bought a small ($6.50), which is fairly sizeable. One taste and we were completely hooked. In fact, I like chocolate popcorn way better than caramel corn because it’s not as cloying. We nibbled to our stomach’s content and even had enough leftover to bring home on the plane.
After the last of the chocolate popcorn was gone a couple days later (and mind you, it was still wonderfully crisp even at that point), I began to have serious withdrawal. So much so that I even looked online to see if the Cinerama might possibly do mail-orders of the popcorn. But alas, no.
So I was determined to try to make my own at home.