All photos: Leanna Yip for the Appeal

An experiment to see just how much chocolate can brighten one’s day got an early start, while riding the F from the FiDi to Fisherman’s Wharf on Saturday. I know, I know — tourists bring their money to the local economy. In some instances, I just wish they didn’t have to actually come here to do it. (I’m looking at you, guy who kept yelling, “DODGERS!” out the window whenever he saw someone else in blue and white.)

But on to the sweets.

The 14th Annual Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival, a giant benefit for Project Open Hand, was held at the multi-level, tourist-heavy square this past weekend. $20 got you a card to present to vendors whenever you wanted a sample. The card — with spaces for 20 samples — could be shared among multiple people.

My three favorite edibles:
Mrs. Munchie’s: I started off the day with one of these moist confections. Nice and chewy and not too sweet.

Kika’s Treats: I wasn’t expecting the chocolate graham cracker in dark chocolate to be that intense, but I love dark chocolate, so it was right up my alley — even if it was a bit dense.

Island Breeze Macaroons & More: The plain macaroon was incredibly moist and not too oily or sugary. Yum.

Unfortunately I learned that yes, there is such a thing as too much chocolate. I had gone solo and didn’t realize just how quickly all that sweetness could internally add up, especially since I forgot my water bottle. By the end of the day, I had only made it to 15 out of 20 allotted samples, and two of those were some deliciously strong chocolate/vodka shots from the charming Aussies at Boomerang Vodka. After only about 6 or 7 samples I started to feel like I’d overdosed — not that everything I had after that was bad or unenjoyable, but one can only have so much dessert. Luckily, Farm Fresh to You was also there, and presented a nice savory break in the form of tomatoes in olive oil and vinegar.

It wasn’t all gorging, all the time, though. At 4 p.m. both days, Steve Genzoli, Ghirardelli’s Vice President of Research and Development and Quality Assurance gave a presentation about the formation of chocolate, all the way from how the beans are harvested to how the chocolate is poured into the molds.

I had no idea one could actually trigger the car alarm on a car intended for display, until a one of the luxury Cadillacs parked near the presentation area started honking at the very end of Genzoli’s talk, and then a red-faced girl of about 14 slammed one of the doors and ran off hiding her face and laughing.

“I’ve been pushed off the stage many times before, but not by a car alarm!,” Genzoli exclaimed, quickly ending the talk to appreciative laughter and applause, and invited those with questions to come up and ask him in a manner that didn’t require shouting.

Note for those who might want to attend next year: don’t play with the cars. But more importantly, bring a bottle of water and moist wipes. There was only one bank of sinks (the kind with a foot pump which presents you with non-potable water), the bathroom lines were long and there were no drinking fountains.

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