|Sunday we took a tour of the Scharffen-Berger chocolate factory in Berkeley with Sue and friends.||Sue bought the tour as part of a gift package at last year's Rivers of Chocolate and 15 of her closest friends got to go along. We had a lively 45 minute discussion about the process of making fine chocolates with the guide|
and then a quick 10 minute walk through the factory, hair nets and earmuffs were optional, but it seemed like everyone wanted to wear them.
|I was very surprised by how small the place is. One roaster, seen here. The winnower is off to the left.|
|Two mélangers (or melangia?), one temperer, and that's it. This melanger has two granite wheels. The cacao beans are tossed in here and there is a slow heat from the bottom. This causes the cocoa butter to melt.||As the roasted beans are ground up the butter comes out an you have the ultimate chocolate slurry.|
|Here's a close up of an old melanger wheel. The temperer slowly heats and cools the chocolate within a narrow temperature range. This causes just the right size crystals to form.||Of course there were a few pipes connecting it all together. We finished with an Ethiopian dinner in Oakland and came home to try and sleep off another chocolate buzz.|
The next week was San Francisco with the California Historic Preservation Society meeting. She was attending and I was a hanger on. She was part of a little "three minute success story" around saving the Hacienda Garden apartments in San Carlos. This is a regular affair where groups from around the state give a quick recap of some project they have done. I was in charge of running the power point presentation to stay on time. It came off very well. We also took a four hour tour of the Presidio with the official historian. He was marvelously informative and we got to go into several of the old buildings. They are all being renovated and leased so that the Presidio national park can be self sufficient by 2012. We went into the old homes that held the WWI pilots who used Chrissy Field. We also toured an executive officer's home undergoing seismic retrofit. 6,000 square feet, two stories, brick. It is already rented out for $9,000 a month. The occupants will live in the shadow of the Golden Gate bridge.
We stayed at the Argonaut hotel in the Cannery at Fisherman's wharf. An excellent place to stay. It's built within the confines of the old fruit warehouse that fed the actual cannery next door. Our room looked out on the cable car turnaround. Not only that, but we could get up and walk around long before the glut of tourists arrive. I love being in the city at 8am when no one else is around. Over the course of the days we toured the Museum Mechanic which holds old penny arcade machines, now operated with quarters. I remember running these at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk with my grandparents so long ago. These are the same ones that were housed by the Cliff House a few years back. They also have Big Lil on display from the Funhouse at Sunset Beach. We also got out on Hyde Street Pier State Park. Among many sights is the Balcutha, an old sailing ship. She's open for you to walk into every part of the ship. The park system presents the history in a most interesting way. You should go.
Nancy, Carol, Cara, and Angela at the California Historic Preservation Society meeting in San Francisco's Presidio National Park Theater. Here they are relazing during the rehearsal of their three minute success story skit.
|We got time to drive around and I am always stunned by the beautiful views that are just off the side of the road here.|
|But any trip to the city has me snapping photos of all kinds of stuff. This shot is actually 100 feet square.||These dogs on the Balcutha look like spigots filling up this pool of white fluid.|
|I like this, it reminds me a bit of Gustavo Klimt.||The inside of a boiler, in case you care.|
|Pretending to be Egyptian.|
Back in April we again went to this year's Rivers of Chocolate benefit. Again we stuffed ourselves with fine chocolates and delicate wines while enjoying views of the valley from the deck at Paul Masson. After just 20 minutes I knew I was in trouble. We had three hours to go and I was already starting to shake from the sugar and caffeine. The live auction tent was stuffed this year which made it very difficult to hear the raffle or participate in the bidding. Rob and Julie came along too and the four of us stood outside the tent having decaf coffee and an occasional dip into the chocolate reserves. There was a great centerpiece of chocolate sculpture on a table surrounded with truffles. I went back in to get a photo of it at then end, only to discover that it was just a plastic fake. Imagine going to the SF Flower show and finding out that the center piece was plastic flowers!
|Angela, Rob, Julie, and the twins!||Inside Paul Masson was a bunch of people and a ton of chocolate.|