hot chocolate quest, continued: Cocoa Bella
Yesterday I was near Union Street. Since I'm in the area maybe once a year I arranged my whole day in order to try to the hot chocolate at Cocoa Bella. Never mind that it was hot out; Liz B's postings have long made me eager to try it.
Loved it. Loved being able to make choices (how dark the chocolate? how rich the brew? how much cream vs milk?) because it's made custom. Loved that the sharp, bitter chocolate wasn't deadened by cream (as at Boulette's); loved that it wasn't too sweet (as at Cafe Amici); loved that it was dense and strong.
The best news of all is that Cocoa Bella will be opening a store, complete with hot chocolate counter, at the new San Francisco Shopping Center (Market near 5th) this fall. My only hope is that they'll open early enough because I like hot chocolate as a morning drink. With their upcoming opening, I'm just about ready to declare my personal SF hot chocolate quest complete, with Cocoa Bella the clear winner.
Liz B's post:
I like Bittersweet's as well. At Bittersweet and at Cocoa Bella, I like that the richness comes from chocolate, not cream; I also like the variety. But what clinched it for Cocoa Bella, in my mind, is that know how to spice it. Cocoa Bella's was both spiced and spicy: cloves, nutmeg, and cayenne, plus a bit of honey. It was gutsier than any of the Bittersweet varieties.
Have you tried the hot chocolate at XOX Truffles? They make it, as well as their mochas, with the same ganache that is used in their superlative truffles (one of which comes free with the drink). They whisk it with steamed milk (of your choice) right there in front of you. I think it's excellent. Give it a shot and let me know how it stacks up.
I can't say how it stacks up against Cocoa Bella, but this is one of the few things I dislike at XOX. It is WAY down on my favorite hot chocolate list. Also, when I tried it they put aerosol whipped cream on top.
I'm getting uncomfortably warm even THINKING about hot chocolate on this scorching day.
Emporio Rulli has two versions which is their regular and the Venetian ... if that's the one they offer as dessert.
The regular can be skipped.
The Venetian is the thick type of hot chocolate that Boulette's Larder sells. I know I tried it ... I am visualing the bowl ... it was pricy ... I remember thinking, not bad ... once ... but it appears I didn't post about it ... how unlike me. I can even see where I was sitting ... but I ususally sit in the same spot at Rulli.
I've decided I really don't care for those thick Eurpean versions and in the back of my memory Boulettes Larder was better, to me with Emporio Rulli not far behind.
Cocoa Bella's hot chocolate is good, but the gold standard for me is still Cafe Madeleine. Their hot chocolate is made with ganache and the texture and flavor is just perfection.