In the article titled “Chocolate”, which appeared on December 21-22 in The Wall Street Journal, written by Simran Sethi, I learned that the botanical name of chocolate is “Theobroma Cacao”, which means Food of the Gods. In the article I also learned that by 2024, the cocoa growing industry is expected to reach over 161 billion in revenue. It seems that I am not the only one in the world who loves chocolate. I first discovered good chocolate in the late 90s. A friend introduced me to Robert Steinberg, co-founder of the chocolate company, Scharffen Berger. We visited the one room factory located in South San Francisco (which later relocated to Berkeley). It was acquired by Hershey in 2005, and was the first American company in the past 50 years to make chocolate “from bean to bar”. Online I found the list of the World’s top 10 chocolate bars (Scharffen Berger was number four). Many chocolates later, it seems that that the field of chocolate making is getting crowded. There are so many artisanal brands, which vary in taste, ingredients, components, and of course price. The question remains – what is a good chocolate? Turns out, that the bottom line for defining a great chocolate is the amount of cocoa solids present. To be dark, it has to be over 70 percent. Anything below is considered milk chocolate. This is why 72 percent chocolate bars are so popular.
There are many stores where we can buy chocolates, such as a boutique that specializes in chocolate varieties from around the world, located in San Francisco, on 24th Street. Years ago, before chocolate bars became as popular as they are now, the owner of the Chocolate Covered boutique told me to let him know if I find chocolate that he does not have, he will add it to his collection. And then there are chocolate truffles. You can buy them from many companies like Godiva or many other manufacturers. One of them, Christopher Elbow Chocolates boutique located in Hayes Valley, sells creations of a Kansas City chocolatier, Christopher Elbow. It is also one of the places to taste real hot chocolate. However, recently I discovered a new place, which brought chocolate truffles to a completely new level. The first time I just stumbled upon this place, which seemed to be a coffee shop called One 65, located next to the O’Farrell/Ellis Garage in downtown San Francisco, across from Macy’s. The name of the place reflects the address. Turned out that the coffee shop was just part of the French restaurant, located in in a six-story building, created by Michelin star lauded chef Claude Le Tohie. A few days later, we came back for a delicious dinner in the bistro. And it was here where we recently celebrated my 73rd birthday. With all of the wonderful culinary experiences, it was chocolate which brought me back. On the second floor in the Chocolate Lab, chocolate Chef Vincent Fredureux creates his artistic masterpieces.
As it often happens when I am looking for information for my stories, it appears as a book. This time it was “Bean to Bar Chocolate. America’s Craft Chocolate Revolution” written by Megan Giller. There I found a lot of valuable information about chocolate as well as recipes for hot chocolate. The book also gave me an idea for one of my next photobook projects – “42 Encounters with Chocolates”.
P.S. Until the book is going to be ready, please enjoy these four images that I photographed at One 65, and do not forget to visit the place to have a real chocolate experience.
Smile, Enjoy chocolate and Share with a Friend!