Battle of the – Chocolate Shops

Please your palate from port to port.
By Kay Harwell Fernandez

We’re a nation of chocolate lovers. Each year, in fact, the average American puts away 12 pounds of the palate-pleasing confection. And 10 other countries beat us in consumption! Not only does chocolate melt in our mouths, it also stimulates endorphins, which is why we often feel better after indulging.

Indigenous Mexicans were the first to crave the stuff. Aztec emperor Montezuma reportedly consumed dozens of cups of hot chocolate a day. This first recorded chocoholic introduced chocolate to Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés, who ultimately made off with the Aztec treasury and a culinary delight that would turn the world on its head.

After Cortés returned to Spain with cocoa beans, chocolate became the drink du jour for the elite. But it wasn’t until the 19th century that chocolatiers discovered you could make a chocolate bar by adding coca butter to the beans.

Chocolate brings bliss, but it also touts healthful benefits. Food chemists say that dark chocolate contains antioxidants that boost the cardiovascular system, increase blood flow to the brain and elevate mood. Like wine, chocolate comes in a variety of tastes and textures, as cruisers will discover in various ports of call. So set your sights on these sweet spots.

Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop
Ghirardelli Square
900 North Point Street
(415) 474-3938
Best Bite
Midnight Reverie — two scoops of chocolate ice cream, homemade dark chocolate hot fudge, dark chocolate chips, whipped cream, and Intense Dark™ Midnight Reverie®.
Founded by Domingo Ghirardelli, the confectionery company has been around since 1852. Since 1893, the Ghirardelli Square location has welcomed boats passing under the Golden Gate Bridge with its trademark lights. Near the famed Fisherman’s Wharf, the building became a National Historic Landmark in 1982.
Also on the Menu
Decadent drinking chocolate created with melted chocolate drops; shakes and sundaes; and The Earthquake, with eight scoops of ice cream, eight toppings, fresh bananas, chopped almonds, and chocolate chips.
Chef Secret
Ghirardelli roasts its cocoa beans in-house for rich, flavorful chocolate. The shop’s hot fudge — milk or dark — is made from real melted chocolate.