Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Sister V's California visit was a staycation for me and a vacation for her. With gasoline prices inching towards $5 a gallon daily, sstaycation has become an important part of my means staying home and visiting attractions close to home. I think many of us will be enjoying summer staycations this year.

We spent an afternoon in Berkeley at the headquarters of Scharffen Berger Chocolate.

We started our visit with lunch in their restaurant, Café Cacao (510/843-6000), then we took a guided tour of the factory (free; reservations required; reserve online or by telephone), and, finally, we did some chocolate tasting and shopping in their Company Store.

Café Cacao serves lunch/brunch daily and dinner on Friday nights. Wonderful chocolate desserts, pastries, and drinks complement the menu of savory dishes. Dogs are welcome to dine with their companions on the café's outdoor patio.

We started with a shared order of Sweet Potato Fries

and followed with the day’s Quiche with Salad for both V and J and Chilaquilles Rancheros for me.

To drink: steaming hot mugs of Scharffen Berger Cocoa...Impossible to resist!

Scharffen Berger’s one-hour tour starts with a presentation about the history of cacao and Scharffen Berger chocolate. The second part of the tour is a walk through the factory and packaging rooms.

The tour ends in the Company Store, where there is more tasting and, of course, the opportunity to shop. From time to time, Scharffen Berger produces a limited edition single-origin chocolate which is only sold here at the store. When you visit, be sure to ask about any special limited edition bars.

Although Scharffen Berger is now part of Hershey Chocolate’s Artisan Confections Company, it continues to
operate independently at this factory, making its chocolate in small batches, using vintage European equipment.

A few notes on tour rules: Not having read the Tour Guidelines carefully, I did not realize that closed-toe shoes must be worn on the tour, for safety reasons. They provided me with a pair of clogs to wear on the tour. Also, everyone is required to cover their hair with a hair net, which they supply.

One of the men on our tour had a beard; not only did he have to wear a hairnet on his head, he also had to wear one over his beard!!!

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