There is only one thing I love more than beer, and that’s chocolate (okay, technically two things if you count books, but that seems to fall into a different category). And exactly once a year I get to eat chocolate until I can eat no more, until I’m sick and shaking, until that chocolate craving is finally completely satisfied, if only for a few hours – the Chocolate Festival.
I first went to the Chocolate Festival in New York. The first year I went, I ate chocolate until I saw rainbows at the edge of my vision. The next year, when it was getting really popular, I made sure to get advance tickets. I was let in the minute the show opened, while the people in line had to wait for the all of the advance ticket people to get in first. The woman who was first in line – who must have been standing there for at least an hour – threw a hissy fit. A grown woman. And I didn’t even blame her.
In San Francisco, we first went to the “Chocolate Festival” last year. This is hosted by Ghiradelli’s and should be avoided. It’s a waste of time. What you want, if you’re a true chocolate lover, is the International Chocolate Salon held at Fort Mason.
Last year was the first year, and this year the word had obviously spread. I had to wait in line to get in, and once inside it was so cramped, crowded and stuffy that I nearly left again (I’m only saying that for effect – you know I’d never leave). Plus, for some reason this year everyone seemed to decide that this would be a great activity to bring their kids to (really? You thought your kid would be entertained by piles of single-origin 72% cocoa chocolate? Because I thought they would immediately make themselves sick, act cranky, and then get in my way for the rest of the afternoon). Luckily, the ticketers finally seemed to catch on to the overcrowding, and started regulating the inflow of people. It quickly became much more pleasant.
Some of my favorite chocolate, both last year and this year, were the bittersweet tiles from Poco Dolce. I love chocolate with salt on it. I also tried a rose and cinnamon truffle that was amazing, though I can’t remember who made it. Another favorite that I bought a whole bar of to take home was the Ginger and Orange Peel bar from Saratoga Chocolates.
I was pressed for time, so I didn’t get to eat until I had visions – only until I was mildly ill. Oh well. There’s always next year.