The Gift of an Experience - An Xperience Days Review {SPONSORED POST}

9:00 AM

                                                   {Please click on images to enlarge}

{Please click on images to enlarge}

I was contacted quite a few months ago about writing a review for a gift site. And not just any gift site of things and doodads but a gift site of experiences, of adventure. Funny thing is I had purchased one of these Xperience Days, once before for a friend of ours who was moving from the Bay area to Seattle. She was a foodie and was really hard to buy presents for - I was always fearing either she already had it - or she wouldn't like what I would get her and sometimes, there are those that a gift card is just not the same and sort of lame. You know, those types of people? who like to make things and are cool? Crafty type of people? Yeah, she was one of those..bless her ;) Anyway, so since I knew she was leaving SF - I thought heck, why not get her the Chinatown food tour experience..and she loved it. At first I thought, man this could be lame you know? Anyway, fast forward to a few months ago and I had already forgotten about it..but so glad Xperience Days contacted me, so I can experience it for myself! I know, how selfish of me...

At first I had signed up for a Sonoma cooking class but had to reschedule due to a photography gig on the date of the class. Total bummer because I was looking forward to it. Anyway, so I wasn't able to reschedule the same class and had to settle for a chocolate tasting tour of SF instead..Real bummer right? (in reality I'm not one for sweets so..I wasn't too excited about it..I know, I'm weird). The plan was, it would be a nice thing that me and the hubs could do together - just for us - you know, like a date - when was the last time that happened? Well, it still didn't happen because our youngest had a bad cough the previous day so we had to keep her home from daycare an additional day (so we could infect the rest of the tour goers - of course!) and so we had to take her with us. BUT, it was pretty freakin awesome and a good thing that the tour allowed children..I don't think we could have done it with both kids though. My 4 year old would have been quite disruptive and demanding (to eat all of the chocolates and then be on a super sugar rush - imagine this - at 0:43 seconds).

It was a wonderful day to explore the city and even though I had lived in SF for at least a decade (though now we live in the East Bay) I learned a few things about chocolates (of course) and San Francisco, and got to experience some pretty neat stuff. Oh and taste some really yummy chocolates too! (I actually did not regret choosing the chocolate tour...chocolate is indeed yummy..high quality chocolates even more so)

The chocolate tour itself was conducted by Gourmet Walking Tours - check out their blog here. On the tour we learned about the process of how chocolate becomes the tasty treat we eat. From the raw cacao to the bar or chocolate product used to bake and make other things out of..It reminded me of how coffee is made..from the roasting process to the serving of coffee process. So many choices and so many ways to do it - from different origins as well as the amount..well especially for the chocolates. I am sure you have now seen the percentage of cacao labeled right on the bar itself. The higher the percentage, the more coca bean there is and hence a higher quality and less sugar and other sweet fillers (so less sweet the higher you go).

We were taught the following ways to discern chocolates and I will probably never eat chocolate the way I used they say to enjoy life, you need to stop and smell the roses...well, chocolates that is..

First things first, look at it - is it shiny, textured or smooth?...then snap - and listen to that snap of the chocolate....take a bit of it and sort of move it from the top of your tongue and side to side - in order to you know - get your taste buds, um..tasting..  obviously you can smell it too - just like wine and coffee..(but I think, all in moderation - snap it, eat it and enjoy it - that was my motto for the day). With all our senses - you can decipher how the chocolate was tempered (a clean snap for instance yields a well tempered high quality chocolate bar). It was pretty neat to get into it and visit just a handful of places - that some I probably wouldn't have even ventured to..but at the end of the day, we were pretty much good on chocolates! (except when the last place we visited mentioned a savory treat - a smoked blue cheese chocolate - WHAT?! - I had to buy it!)

Here are the following stops we made:

Recchiuti at the Ferry Building -

I loved their caramel sea salt chocolate, it had a fancy french name you know - that french sea salt. It had a smokey flavor - more so than other caramels - which is their signature. This is one of their best sellers.

La Cocina, also at the Ferry Building - I love this company, so much so that I have donated funds a few times before. They help immigrant women and minorities who have dreams of opening a restaurant or start somewhere and do something in the food industry by providing them a commercial kitchen, industry technical assistance and access to opportunities to have their dreams realized.

New Tree Cafe - where we had some delicious subtle chocolate brownies - the Belgian Walnut Brownie (my fave since I'm not a total sweets person. I had two of these moist yet dry - i know that doesn't make sense, right? - desserts)

Fog City News - Yes, a newspaper strange because I have been there before and just never thought it was unusual - that they have over 200 varieties of chocolates amongst their international papers and beverages..I think I used to buy export a's here before I started rolling my own cigarettes (this was a very very long time ago, obviously..I've got kids no, I don't smoke). We tasted some great offerings here too. Definitely a place to buy some gifts while you are at it..

Leonidas Chocolates at the Crocker Galleria - were we sipped some delicious hot chocolate - and where my daughter woke up - and had some too. The entire rest of our experience, she was asleep! We got to choose two truffles (or actually it was just one, but I chose for my hubby) - I chose an earl grey and a coffee one - :)

Teuscher Chocolates off of Sutter Street - What made these famous recently (was it recently?) is Oprah's rave reviews of their now best selling Champagne Truffles.

Our last stop was CocoaBella - where I had to buy the smokey blue cheese chocolate - I loved it :)

If I wrote everything about this wonderful Xperience Day treat, I would need to write three more posts, and I ain't got time for that..besides it would be boring - it's better to actually go and experience it yourself. No, really. I recommend it. It was a nice day spent with my husband and my daughter exploring the city and our taste buds. There are several experiences from nearly every metropolitan city to choose from, from the totally adventurous to the more zen. Check them out this holiday season (and of course birthdays and anniversaries too!)

disclaimer: I received a free experience in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, so your experience may vary.

More photos will be posted soon!

You Might Also Like


Oooooh, I love me some comments. Thank you.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...