Recently I spent a few days in the Bay Area / Silicon Valley for work. As I’m originally a NorCal girl, it was great to be home, and see family and friends during my evenings off! When my workday ended around noon on the day I was scheduled to fly back to the East Coast, I had decided to spend eight hours in San Francisco playing tourist before heading to the airport for my red-eye flight. I’ve realized that you never play tourist in your own city, and I wanted ride the hop-on/hop-off bus and listen to recorded stories of the places we drove by. And luckily, it was a gorgeous, sunny, breezy day, perfect for being outside.
Then I got into the City and found rockstar parking on The Embarcadero. And I decided that I wanted to play chocolate tourist instead. That was one of the best, deliciousest decisions I’ve ever made!
As usual, I can blame Laura Florand for many of my culinary ideas. I asked her on Facebook if there were any chocolatiers in San Francisco that she would recommend, or any that she hadn’t had a chance to try. I bravely offered myself up as her guinea pig.
You guys, she sent me a map of a dozen chocolatiers in the city.
A map. Dedicated to chocolate.
This is why I love her.
So I started with Recchiuti at the Ferry Building. I had seen their website and was intrigued. It was a smallish, open shop with lots of flavors to choose from, and plenty of boxed sets that made great gifts. I bought my co-workers a box of the Creativity Explored: San Francisco Landmarks chocolates, which were Burnt Caramel Truffles. I bought myself a Peanut Butter Puck to kick off my sweet exploration on the right foot.
Everything about Recchuiti said “dark” to me. The shop’s colors were glossy browns and black, the flavors were deep with just the right amount of bitter to complement the sweet. If you like dark chocolate, this may be your Mecca.
After Recchuiti I checked my handy chocolate map (seriously, one of the best maps ever created) and skipped across the street to shove more quarters in the parking meter. Then I headed south-west to Folsom St. and Socola Chocolatier in the heart of SoMa. This adorable shop is bright and airy, and the ladies behind the counter were delighted to hear that I was on a chocolate tour. Tea sounded refreshing after my walk to their store, so I picked a Masala Chai truffle and a Jasmine. Both were delicious and exactly what I expected of the flavors. And since two of the women were cutting and wrapping fresh caramels, I may have gotten one of those two.
It went on my list of favorite caramels.
I asked them for more recommendations and they sent me back to the Ferry Building and Dandelion Chocolate. Since Miette patisserie was right next door to Dandelion, I felt obligated to get a macaron – salted caramel, do y’all see a pattern here? – on the way. Miette had some of the prettiest cupcakes I’ve ever seen, with super slick, glossy frosting. Stop by their shop to give your eyes and your taste buds a treat.
Then back on track and I stopped at Dandelion’s small corner counter. This place is amazing. Their chocolate bars have only two ingredients – cocoa beans and cane sugar. They are purists. And it is so completely worth it. They have samples out and, like coffee and vanilla, you encounter different flavors in the chocolate depending on where it was grown. So even though it’s about as pure as chocolate can be, one bar may taste like Meyer lemons, another may have notes of tropical fruits, and a third may be flavored with cinnamon and espresso, though none of those flavors have been added. They even have a 100% cacao bar. I thought it would either make my jaws sting and I’d drool all over myself, or that it would be so dry that I wouldn’t be able to swallow it. But it was smooth and nowhere near as bitter as I imagined.