The San Francisco Bay Area is in the midst of a small chocolate boom. There are an almost embarrassing number of places to go buy absolutely top-end chocolate: Fog City News, Chocolate Covered, CocoaBella, Bittersweet, Recchiuti, XOX Truffles, Michael Mischer, and dozens more that I’m forgetting now. The Bay Area is also home to three major chocolate manufacturers: Guittard (a world class producer that supplies some of the top restaurants in the world), Ghirardelli (now a part of the Lindt empire), Sharffen Berger (now part of the Hershey’s empire), and Blommer (a nearly invisible company that is one of the largest chocolate makers in the United States.)
One of the benefits of living amidst all this chocolate activity is the opportunity to rub shoulders with (and perhaps even gain some insight in the process) some talented and experienced chocolate artisans. Adam Smith at Fog City News has been an unfailing advocate for quality chocolate. He’s built an enormous tasting database that’s accessible in the store, and sponsors visits by local chocolate makers and chocolatiers. He’s got a great lineup of people coming by his store over the next few days. These are not super-crowded events, so you get to spend some quality time talking with the folks that make their living working with chocolate. Here’s the lineup of people that Adam has coming up:
May 4 Michael Mischer (chocolatier in Oakland, making some really interesting combinations)
May 7 Lloyd & Lindy Martin (Chocolate Visions) (Santa Cruz chocolatiers)
May 9 Katrina Markoff (Vosges Haut Chocolat) (Queen of a high-end chocolate empire out of Chicago. Maker of a really fantastic spicy chocolate. Ask her about Chocolate and yoga…)
May 10 Gary Guittard (King of Guittard Chocolate, which makes fine chocolates from the bean, and probably the base of any dessert you get at a highly-rated Zagat restaurant. The Guittard family has been making chocolate in the San Francisco area for four generations!)
The other bonus is that Adam is quite liberal with the free samples when the makers are in the store!