Here in San Francisco, we cannot seem to escape being around chocolate. Our hotel is located dangerously close to Ghiradelli Square, and we recently stumbled across a place called New American Chocolate on Pier 17. Their brand is TCHO which is pronounced like the first phonetic syllable of the word chocolate. They call themselves “new American” as they are changing the way American-produced chocolate is viewed…no longer is it just candy bars. TCHO is a new kind of artisanal chocolate that focuses on the natural flavour of the cacao bean. New American Chocolate actually manufactures their chocolate at Pier 17, and it is the only factory that they have anywhere in the world. This particular building is also their only brick and mortar shop in the world. So they are a relatively new company, but it is quite cool to know that they are manufacturing their product on site. We signed up for an hour-long free tour which is held twice daily. It started with an overview on the process of growing and harvesting the cacao bean, moved into the factory where the chocolate is manufactured and put into bar form, and ended with a taste test….They definitely saved the best for last! The TCHO chocolate line is divided into flavours that focus on the background flavours of the natural cacao bean. Their four dark flavours are nutty, chocolatey, fruity, and bright. They have three milk chocolates called creamy, cacao and classic. It is quite crazy how the chocolates actually have different underlying flavours depending on the growing conditions and locations of the cacao bean. No other ingredients are added to the chocolate to give it these flavours!
It was definitely a day of new food experiences. We stopped at Boudin Bakery for lunch and had clam chowder in a bread bowl. Shockingly it was my first taste of soup in a bread bowl, and it was delicious! Boudin Bakery began in 1849 and has been going strong since. They make their bread on site and even have large windows along the sidewalk to allow passersby a view of the bakers hand rolling the loaves. Their sour dough loaves are still made using a portion of the original mother dough. The bakery also makes bread in fun shapes including crabs, lobsters, teddy bears and alligators four feet long!
Before heading to the AGU conference centre, we took a short detour to see Alamo Square. This park is lined on one side by the Painted Ladies which are a set of Victorian Houses built between 1892 and 1896. Apparently they were used during the opening theme song of the nineties sitcom Full House. In true reminiscent style, we spent several evenings in the hotel watching Full House reruns, haha. From the park we headed out to the Moscone Center where we sat in on numerous talks focusing on water quality, land use and policy.