Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A Chocolatey Walk down Chestnut

On a sunny weekday morning when parking is plentiful, try taking a walk down Chestnut Street and sampling the Marina's best chocolate boutiques. Last week I began with a cup of the "Venetian hot chocolate" at the Emporio Rulli Gran Caffe, at Chestnut and Scott. This stuff is thick and rich, though the brand of chocolate used is reportedly "top secret." The Rulli empire (with locations now in Union Square, Larkspur and SFO) offers some tempting pastries too, but I suggest holding off because there are many more chocolate delights to be sampled.

Walk a couple blocks down Chestnut and pop into Moonstruck Chocolate Cafe. Moonstruck is based in Portland, Oregon and has been around since 1993. With another location in Walnut Creek, the cafes feature Moonstruck's full line of scrumptious looking truffles and a wide range of hot and cold chocolate beverages as well. I sampled Moonstruck's most famous item, the "cream cone." The mini cone is dark chocolate and the ice cream is a French silk cream decorated with pastel icing. These chocolates are decidedly American; in fact Moonstruck is quite proud of having been the official chocolatier for both the 78th and 77th Academy Awards. (And what number are we on now, anyway?)

Cross the street and you'll find a relative newcomer to the Chestnut chocolate scene - Luvbox. This shop is a bit mysterious. They say they don't make their chocolates here, but that they use several different Belgian "suppliers." Yet doing a Google search on the company name led me nowhere. In any case, they offer a range of fresh chocolates and truffles, plus pre-packaged bars and gifts. Their bars mimic the Michael Mischer packaging - a clear plastic box with whole nuts on top of the chocolate This tiny store, decorated in gold and crimson, makes you feel like you are inside a precious jewel box. I especially enjoyed the lemon ganache and the orange chocolate truffle from Luvbox.

And finally, if you've still got a taste for chocolate, I recommend circling back to Scott Street and lining up for Kara's Cupcakes. This adorable shop (perfect for little girls who adore pink) offers at least a couple chocolate cupcakes every day, including the "chocolate velvet," the "Ghirardelli chocolate" and the "vanilla chocolate." At $3 a piece, each cupcake is moist and beautiful. Kara, a Tante Marie cooking school graduate, is especially proud of the local ingredients used in her cupcakes. In fact, I've never seen a place go so far as provide a color coded map outlining exactly where each ingredient was sourced, from the "diamond crystal salt" in Newark to the Clover dairy products in Petaluma. The chocolate she uses includes Ghirardelli, Scharffen Berger and (sometimes!) Callebaut.

Our San Francisco Gourmet Chocolate Tour covers downtown San Francisco right now, but it's possible we'll add a Marina tour in the future. We may even combine it with a wine tasting at Bin 38 or Nectar. Email me with your thoughts!

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Hi there -

Did you know that Cocoon Urban Day Spa & Yoga Studio is starting Yoga, Wine, Chocolate and Cheese workshops? In the scope of 2 hours, you get a yoga session, plus a wine, chocolate and cheese tasting meant to "awaken all the senses".

You should check it out. There is a class this Thursday and again on Dec 20 from 7pm-9pm

Cocoon is at 330 First Street between Harrison and Fillmore.