Monday, February 15, 2016

Review - Ghirardelli Drinking Chocolate

We're pretty lucky here in Los Angeles. As an entertainment city, LA is one of the most popular tourist destinations in America, with Hollywood Boulevard being one of the biggest draws out here. It is, quite literally, Hollywood. It's where the famous Chinese Theater is with all the hand prints in cement. It's where the stars line the sidewalks. So naturally, we've got a lot of places for tourists to spend money.

Almost directly across from the Chinese Theater is Disney's El Capitan Theater. Next to that, there used to be a Disney Store. Much to my great pleasure, a couple years ago, they turned the Disney Store into a Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop!

If you're a chocolate lover, there's no way you can walk by here without taking a peek inside. And once you're in, they hand you a free tasting square of chocolate to really trap you! Works on me every time.

Ghirardelli is, in my opinion, one of the better mass market chocolate makers. Sure, they are a huge company, but take a look at their ingredients list. They use quality stuff (mostly), and you can taste it. They don't overload their products with fake or overly processed ingredients. At least, not in their plain chocolates.

I've used their chocolates many times in making my hot chocolates, and using their squares is one of the easiest ways to have an exceptional dessert drink. I was very excited when this store appeared, because now I'd get to experience what they believe to be the ultimate hot chocolate.

The menu has a couple hot cocoas and a drinking chocolate. Maybe they change this seasonally? That would be great if they did! On this occasion, I went with the decadent drinking chocolate. That's always my favorite, and the best way to just really enjoy the flavor of the chocolate. 

To wait for my chocolate I took a seat at a small table next to a column with this great poster explaining how chocolate is made. I love things like this. I think most people still just think of chocolate as coming from a big factory rather than from a plant in a forest. Chocolate really is just a plant, like a salad or a plate of broccoli. It doesn't become bad for you until you begin adding sugar (and other filler ingredients).

My drinking chocolate was served in a small mug with nothing accompanying it. I could tell instantly that this was a real melted chocolate, just as described on the menu. That's always preferable to any kind of cocoa powder mix, and also explains why they didn't include a little square of chocolate on the side to enjoy with it, like they do with their sea salt hot cocoa.

It was a very nice drink, and it wasn't served too hot, so I was able to start in on it as soon as it arrived. It was sweet and thick, and while overall it was a bit more on the sugary side, it actually had unexpected notes of smokiness. That was very nice, however, overall the experience was more akin to eating a candy bar than having an artisanal hot chocolate. By the time I was close to finishing, it was getting too sweet, but thankfully, the portion size was just right, and it ended perfectly.

Worth a stop if you're in Hollywood and in the mood for a better-than-coffee-shop hot chocolate!