Friday, March 25, 2011

San Francisco Epicurean delights at the Fisherman's Wharf: Boudin and Ghirardelli

Two companies that profited from the California gold rush, managed to engrave their distinct brand on San Francisco's hills and live through the decades, in fact over a century. Boudin Bakery and Ghirardelli Chocolate Company are one of the oldest culinary companies that exists in the USA today.


Boudin Bakery, founded by French baker and immigrant, Isidore Boudin is largely known for its sourdough bread; a bread that is indeed sour because of the bacteria in it--a wild yeast or so it is called which makes the bread taste a bit acerbic. This yeast was successfully developed more than a century ago by Boudin, and the same method is still traditionally followed, up to this day.

The best known Boudin sourdough bread is the sourdough bowl that goes with Clam Chowder soup, see here for my post: Hot Clam Chowder in Sourdough Bread, a very typically San Franciscan dish.

Its flagship bakery in Fisherman’s Wharf is also a museum. I didn’t go into the museum but did watch the bakers through the glass from the side street a few times while they mould the dough by the hand into interesting sea creature designs, which include a massive crocodile! This display of impressive baking and culinary artistic design skills always attracts all sorts of passers-by that it can get teeming with people outside the sidewalk busily clicking their cameras away. A free baking show!

Here are a few fotos of Boudin Bakery:

So what is sourdough? Read the above.

Big crocodile sourdough bread. The woman is making a miniature version.

And a dungeness sourdough crab as well! Very apt.

Boudin Bakery, Cafe and Museum.

A peek into the oven of Boudin.

Stuffing the dough with some paste in really quick moves!


Ghirardelli Chocolate company on the other hand was founded by an Italian immigrant, Domenico Ghirardelli who immigrated from Italy to South America (Lima, Peru) and was lured by the gold rush and sudden riches opportunity to California, USA.

The Ghirardelli Square in the Fisherman’s Wharf where many of the original factory and buildings of the Ghirardelli company, was declared in 1965 by the city of San Francisco as an official city landmark. The square has 2 Ghirardelli chocolate shops, the one by the entrance with the sundae shop is always jam-packed with people ordering their favourite hot fudge Ghirardelli sundae.

We had coffee in the other Ghirardelli chocolate and caffe shop located inside the square and I bought a small box of chocolates to give to the in-laws as a San Francisco souvenir present when we are back. I am not the chocolate sweet-tooth type so I didn’t buy anything for me, or rather, for us. Besides, these Ghirardelli shops are very generous; to every chocolate shop visitor, as a tease, they give away a free sample of Ghirardelli chocolate caramel square anyway. This sample is enough for me, in fact I got 3 chocolate caramel square samples and gave 2 to the Dutchman. I am probably one of the very few women in this world who do not fancy chocolate.

The Ghirardelli Chocolate Company is now owned by Swiss chocolatier, Lindt and Sprungli (from Switzerland).

Fotos of Ghirardelli Square and the Chocolates:

The square that houses the original Ghirardelli buildings is actually an open little mall with a fountain.

We did not have chocolate drink, coffee instead =)

And an old advertisement of Ghirardelli's Chocolate drink.

Ghirardelli premium chocolates.

This is not a sponsored post.

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