When I went to the Chocolate Festival for the first time last year, I overdosed on chocolates. I had this terrible headache the next day which is probably a hangover from the chocolate withdrawal. Instead of enjoying all the delicious confections, I ended up developing an extreme revulsion for them. I didn't eat, smell, or touch any form of chocolates in the next couple of months after the event. In fairness to the chocolates, they were blameless . I was the culprit and my mistake was that I didn't share.
For this year, I made sure I brought Mijo with me not only to avoid another overindulging fallout but also to split the glorious calories that go with the chocolates. For $20, you get a tasting passport containing 15 numbers. Each tasting corresponds to a number on the passport that gets crossed off after trying a sample. A sample maybe a slice, a small bar or an entire piece. It depends on the vendor. This year's was not as exciting as last year's because there were only a handful interesting chocolate vendors. The rest were bleh. I wonder where were the local confectioners like See's, Tcho, Cocoa Bella or Scharffen Berger? Or the local creameries like Mitchell's or Birite Ice cream? What about the liqueur producers from the nearby wineries? The organizers should get them on board next time if they want this event to matter.
Here are the choco-tastings that made an impression:
Sterling Truffle Bar. A tasting is a slice of a truffle bar. There were three truffle tasting choices. Pinapple ginger macadamia nut, strawberry orange liqueur and double hazelnut caramel. I asked the vendor to select for me and they chose the Pineapple one. It was very good. Chocolate crust with fruity chewy soft and smooth filling. I am not sure if they only ship their products. You can find them at http://sterlingconfections.com/. My only regret is that I saved off the remaining tasting so I can try the other vendors which are so-so. I should have spent two or more tastings here!
Ciao Bella. This has a good bang for your buck. You get a whole cup of sorbet or gelato for a tasting. Not a meager teaspoon but the whole cup. We decided to get two tastings here - Mijo got a chocolate gelato while I chose the blood orange sorbet. Since we are splitting the spoils, I enjoyed sampling both flavors. The gelato's rich nutty chocolate flavor complements the tangy orange taste of the sorbet. Yumm! You can find one of their stores at the Ferry Building.
Kara's cupcake. For a tasting here, you get a whole mini-cupcake. We got two tastings here - one chocolate and one vanilla cupcake. The cupcakes were moist and tasty. The frosting added extra flavors and the sprinkles added extra texture. Everyone must have heard about how good the cupcakes were because their line was the longest that day. Kara's Cupcakes has several locations in the Bay Area.
An honorable mention goes to the Hot choco by Ghirardelli Chocolate.
The Chocolate Festival is an annual food fest where one can sample over 20 vendors selling sweet confections which is mostly made of chocolates. There were also live music, food games for kids and baking demonstrations. The Chocolate Festival is held on the month of September on Beach Street by Ghirardelli Square and it benefits Project Open Hand.