Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ghirardelli Premium Chocolate, San Francisco

We have Domingo Ghirardelli to thank for bringing us Ghirardelli Premium Chocolates. Leaving Italy and migrating to United States, he created the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. In the early 1900's, Ghirardelli Chocolate then made its home in Ghirardelli Square, San Francisco (fortunately for me!). I always dropped by Ghirardelli Square for my usual treat whenever I'm in San Francisco.

This time round, my visit to Ghirardelli Square was even better as I met up with Kopi Soh, a former blogger turned avid Facebooker. Only a handful has seen her as she blogs anonymously and photos of her on the blog or Facebook usually shows her hand or her leg or her get what I mean. So, it was quite an exciting thought to be finally seeing her face-to-face and with us meeting up in San Francisco!

Kopi Soh
Kopi Soh and her cherry blossom tattoo!

With Mr Kopi Soh in tow, we decided to head straight for our sundae treats at Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop in Ghirardelli Square. We joined the queue, ordered and managed to find an empty table though the place was crowded. While Mr Kopi Soh waited for our order to arrive, Kopi Soh and I promptly went around the place and took photos. In this shop, one can actually see how Ghirardelli processes the cocoa beans into their premium chocolate.

Here are the steps and the explanation (taken off each display board at the shop).

In Step 1 - Cocoa Roasters, the outer shell of the bean is removed, leaving behind the kernel (also called "nibs"). These nibs are then roasted thus developing their unique flavor.

Step 2 Chocolate Mills
Step 2 Chocolate Mills
In three tiered mills, a combination of grinding and frictional heat melt the cocoa nibs into a liquid called chocolate liquor or unsweeted chocolate as we know it today.

Step 3 Melanger
Step 3 Melanger
Granite rollers then mix the chocolate liquor with selected ingredients. These may include whole milk powder, sugar, vanilla and additional cocoa butter in varying amounts, depending on the type of chocolate being made.

Step 4 Conche
Step 4 Conche
Conching is a final step in the chocolate making process. It smoothes and aerates the chocolate, developing its flavor and texture. The chocolate is then tempered and deposited into various size models.

We then saw this staff making these Chocolate Covered Strawberries. The strawberries were HUGE and looked so delectable! I thought she was preparing them for some catering event and only realised later that they do have these on the menu, though seasonal at USD2.50. I'm not sure how many of these we get though for one order.

And guess what? By the time we were done with the photo taking, we also realised another thing...We had forgotten about our sundae!!! Oh dear! We got back to our table and were greeted with the sight of melting (or melted!) sundae...hahahaha!'

Hot Fudge Sundae in homemade Waffle Bowl
The pic doesn't do the sundae justice, so sorry Mr Ghirardelli. One of the only pic I have of the world famous Hot Fudge Sundae (USD7.95). It was already a casualty -life draining away and I couldn't take my time framing the shot. Two scoops of vanilla ice cream overflowing with Ghirardelli's homemade hot fudge, whipped cream, chopped almonds and a cherry - served in a homemade waffle bowl (another dollar extra). The ice cream was rich, creamy and smooth while the hot fudge is simply the best, thick and flavourful! We devoured the sundae quickly before it could melt any further. Such a pleasure...yum, yum!

Paying tribute to San Francisco, Ghirardelli serves up other treats like The Golden Gate (USD8.95), which is Ghirardelli's Banana Split version - a trio of vanilla, strawberry and chocolate ice cream paired with perfect toppings like crushed pineapple, sliced strawberries and homemade chocolate syrup and finished with fresh bananas, whipped cream, chopped almonds and a cherry. There's also The Cable Car (USD8.50) which is Rocky Road Sundae - rocky road, chocolate chip and chocolate ice cream smothered with creamy, marshmallow topping and freshly homemade hot fudge, surrounded by a halo of whipped cream, topped with chopped almonds, a cherry and a Ghirardelli Squares Milk Chocolate. The Haight Ashbury (USD7.92) is the Very Berry Sundae while they also serve the family favourite, The Earthquake (USD29.95) - Eight scoops of ice cream, eight delicious toppings, finished with fresh bananas, whipped cream, chopped almonds, decadent chocolate ships and cherries.

Ghirardelli Chocolates
If we want something that doesn't melt that easily, there is always Ghirardelli Squares chocolate. All great stuff....i tell ya! :o)

It was great meeting up with Kopi Soh and we continued chatting away while I accompanied them as they joined the long line to board the cable car. Till we meet again ... ;o)

Check out Ghirardelli's website HERE and see their other chocolate products. Try out their recipes too, particularly these Top 10 ones. When you are in San Francisco, remember to drop by Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate shop and treat yourself. You just gotta have to!

Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop
Ghirardelli Square (website)
900 North Point Street
San Francisco, CA 94109


J said...

OMG. Look at the size of those strawberries!! :D
(I waaaaaaant......*drool*)

Anonymous said...

LOL, cool post, mmmmm i can still taste the ice cream, should have ordered one each, now I want more hehe

Kopi Soh

~Christine~Leng said...

nice post. and u augmented my cravings for chocs. *go easy on yourself. don't be tempted too easily* (whispering to myself) said...

those photos are great!

daphne said...

Oh man! I would love to bite into that strawberry dipped in choc.. and sundae! Lucky girl!

Life for Beginners said...

I'd say I'm envious of you visiting Ghirardelli's, but I'm more envious of you having met Kopi Soh! She's such a dear, isn't she? :)

ai wei said...

i want the huge coeated strawberries!!! love this post. now i know the production of chocolatesssss

wmw said...

J : Yes, imagine how I felt when I saw that right in front of my eyes!

Kopi Soh : Aiyah, we were full also, tea time treat.... :o)

Christine : Oh, you big choc fan? : Thanks for dropping by and the compliment.

Daphne : Hey there...happy bride...still ;o)

LFB : Heheh...for you to find out!

Ai Wei : Lovely...the hot fudge is really nice, you know.

mimid3vils said...

the strawberries are as huge as apple!!!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
wmw said...

mimid3vils: Yah, there are...incredible!

Cynthia said...

I am so absolutely joined at the hip with Ghiradelli 60% CACAO Dark Chocolate with Caramel filling! I have to have 3 a day. This has been going on for weeks and I can't stop.

wmw said...

Cynthia : Hi there! Thanks for dropping by. Lucky you to have access to it. I'm back in Malaysia and have been eating it sparingly, making sure I stretch my supply for as long as I can. Hahahaha...