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Aug 9, 2009 10:32 PM

Help for constructing a chocolate & cheese tasting (Berkeley)?

I saw the cutest idea for an outdoor dinner party on a San Francisco pier in a blog (you take a folding table and chairs, set them up at the pier, and throw on a tablecloth) and and wanted to copy it and throw a tasting party for 10. I was thinking of buying some cheap red wine from TJ's and serving it with baguette, dark chocolate, cheese, and crudites.

Does anyone have any suggestions for bread bakeries or chocolate/cheese places? I'm a poor college student in the UC Berkeley area, but I was thinking about places such as Acme, Cheeseboard, and Vital Vittles. Suggestions for individual chocolates/cheeses/breads would be highly appreciated.

Thanks in advance! :)

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  1. Not to discourage you too much ... but the things that could go wrong with this boggle the mind. First you have to find a pier where all this is legal ... liquor, event .. there's the winds off the bay whipping off tablecloths and food ... undesireable people sharing your pier with you (actually that is pretty funny when I think about it) ... people with dogs ... seagulls swooping down ... I could go on.

    Still that doesn't help you a whole bunch.

    I'd do most of my shopping at TJ's. I'd also look into Grocery Outlet which has a good selection of wine, cheese and chocolate at bargain basement prices. However, at GO it depends on the luck of the draw. I wouldn't rely on them, but check them out first and go from there on the shopping trip.

    Bread Garden across from the Clairmont has half price bread baked that day after 6pm.

    XOX chocolates would be good to look into. They are top grade, but small so the overall price isn't horrid.

    1. Cheese Board is unbeatable for cheese. Tell them what you're doing and they'll give you tastes.

      For a party, I love Acme pain d'epis, which is the same as their baguette but in a shape that has more crust and makes it easy for people to tear off roll-sized pieces.

      Vital Vittles' bread isn't very good for cheese, too soft, falls apart.

      1. Easier and cheaper than buying individual chocolates is to buy chocolate bars and have a little taste test (blind if you like). Look for chocolates from different countries, and with different percentages of chocolate (dark chocolate can range from 50-60% up to 97% or so). Also great new bars being made with bacon, peppercorns, and other great flavors. Even plain bars, though, can taste very different and are fun to compare.