HOT CHOCOLATES In honor of Valentine's Day, the official holiday of chocolatiers (and florists, and jewelers, and marriage counselors) nationwide, I'm giving you a list of some of my favorite places to get your chocolate on for Feb. 14 and beyond.
Democratic candidates: eat me So food has always been political is it genetically-modified-organism free? Farmed fairly? Packaged responsibly? but this is something else altogether. Designer Chocolate (www.designerchocolate.org) wraps its 100 percent natural chocolate in either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obamathemed paper, complete with photos and quotes. I don't feel qualified to say which candidate tastes better.
Fair trade truffles Love humankind as much as you love chocolate? You're in luck. Global Exchange (4018 24th St., SF; 415-648-8068; 2840 College, Berk.; 510-548-0370; store.gxonlinestore.org) has a full selection of certified fair trade and organic chocolate, from special holiday versions (like the Fair Trade Valentine's Day Action Kit for $15) to year-round delights (like the Chocoholics Gift Basket for $75), including offerings from Divine, the world's first farmer-owned fair trade chocolate brand.
Design within reach (of your mouth) When it's just as important for the chocolate you buy to be pretty as it is for it to be delicious, Richart Chocolate (393 Sutter, SF; 415-291-9600, www.richart-chocolates.com) is the only place worth looking. These tiny rectangular delights come marked with classic, understated designs like swirls, polka dots, flowers, and geometric shapes and in creative flavors like licorice ganache, thyme praline, and ginger. They're almost too pretty to eat ... almost.
A pint of pleasure It might possibly be the second most brilliant idea anyone ever had: pairing beer with chocolate. The most brilliant? A whole festival dedicated to the two. And the Beer and Chocolate festival (Feb. 15, 8 p.m., $90; Cathedral Hill Hotel, 1101 Van Ness, SF; www.beer-chef.com) is no PBRandHershey's kisses kind of affair. Oh no. We're talking a four-course dinner with items like roasted quail with chocolate port sauce served with Koningshoeven Bock. Do I hear last-minute Valentine's Day plans being made?