I have learned that for many events, like writing conferences and foods shows, for example, the best stuff is often not the main event, but the parties surrounding it. Unfortunately, those are often things you have to weasel your way into, or know the right people, or just get lucky.
The Fancy Food Show was great, but I really had the most fun at the cheesemaker’s reception Saturday evening at the Ferry Building (I know people) and the Tcho chocolate party Sunday night–Joe knew somebody AND we had a right time/right place bit o’ luck: we ran into Jeremy Wanamaker (whom Joe has met and chatted with before) at the beer area, and he handed us an invite.
The Tcho Chocolate party was held in the factory side of their building and it was a chocolately explosion of beer, wine, cheese, and (duh) chocolate. We were already full from the food show, but we’re troopers. I was most shocked by the chocolate/cheese pairings. They had Mt. Tam, Comte, and Roth Kase paired with three of their chocolate flavors. The comte and Roth Kase, especially, were delicious with the chocolate–you could eat them in one mouthful and it just tasted like chocolate cheese heavenly creamy fatty…where was I? I think it’s the texture. Comte is almost the exact texture of fine chocolate and has a bit of savory nuttiness to it.
The two beers on tap were Tripel Rock’s Stonehenge stout and Pinnacle English pale ale. Pinnacle was a nice, crisp contrast but the Stonehenge was an easy chocolate ace. We tried the wines, and they were tasty, but I would pick the beer as a pairing.
We took a tour of the factory (see Joe in a hairnet here!) and then waddled out the door.
The most memorable part of the night actually happened on our way home. We had just entered the maze of dark alleys across from Tcho off of Embarcadero. A lone man was walking the opposite direction as us. Suddenly Joe stuck out his hand for a handshake, introduced himself and started gushing about all the wonderful things this man had done. It turned out to be Greg Koch, the co-founder of Stone Brewing, who first looked incredibly alarmed (I’m pretty sure he put a protective hand on his wallet), then amused and grateful, and then convinced us to climb through the ankle-deep vines around the alley so he could get better lighting to take a Twitterpic with us. Thanks for being a good sport, Greg–we hope to get down to Stone soon!