The Ghiradelli Square Chocolate Festival

It’s Sunday and I’m hungover. This is not your department-store hangover, though. Yesterday, Charlie and I went with our friend Greg to the 19th Annual Ghiradelli Square Chocolate Festival for his birthday. After driving on some roads that looked like they’d lead us off the end of the earth and finding a parking spot that required the parking brake, we walked down to the shore.


With a view of Alcatraz in the background, we got our tickets and headed into the fray. Twenty bucks got us each 15 samples of chocolate. There were tents and tents of vendors, from Ghiradelli to smaller chocolate shops with $25 chocolate bars or freshly decanted chocolate vodka. As is typical in large crowds, I tend get overwhelmed and lose my head a little bit.

At first, we wanted to ration our 15 samples, Oregon-trail style. But the place was crowded, and we wandered around being constantly elbowed by people with chocolate-stained lips trying to get ahead of you in the gelato line. We feasted randomly instead, trying a truffle here or a chocolate tart there.

Even with eating chocolate and doing shots of chocolate vodka indiscriminately, we realized that 15 pieces is a fuckton of chocolate. We’d gone through and tried everything we were interested in and still had 6 or 7 samples to go. We went back through the lines, this time eating without any abandon whatsoever, downing samples of ginger and cherry liqueur, drinking chocolate-flavored coconut water, and getting three samples a time at the most delicious booths (Sharona’s Chocolate Shop and your salted dark chocolate, I’m looking at you). I went to the festival with the intention of taking tasty-looking pictures, but I was stuffing my face so much that I barely took any.

We were taking a break from binging to paw through the rummage sale (a strange and random accompaniment to the chocolate festival, complete with ugly shoes and a gramophone), when I started to feel iffy.

I should mention here that I’d had eggs and toast for breakfast that morning, and nothing since. I’m hypoglycemic and normally good about managing my blood sugar, but for some reason I’d adopted a dangerous devil-may-care attitude after the coffeepot had broken that morning and decided that in the battle of Jill versus blood sugar, Jill would certainly win.

After years of dealing with migraines and their sometimes-gross consequences, I knew the warning signs. Shaky hands, a headache above my eyebrows, feeling jittery and unable to focus on anything—so instead of being an intelligent person and getting some food, I instead took two Excedrin. And then ate some more chocolate.

Thanks to the Excedrin, my symptoms were still there, I just didn’t feel them. And I certainly didn’t feel hungry. We attempted to burn off all the chocolate by walking down to Fisherman’s Wharf and up to the top of Lombard Street.

I forgot about my blood sugar, ate a late Italian dinner, and celebrated Greg’s birthday at the Elbo Room, with a brief interlude of drunk-eating a hamburger for second dinner.

Flash forward to this morning. My stomach was knotted up and I had a headache and I thought I might vomit. I’d only had two drinks, so this wasn’t your average hangover—it was an effing chocolate hangover. Did you know this is possible? I’m the girl who has one of everything at my grandmother’s Christmas Eve dessert table, and even I have never been this full.

I’ve never been much of a candy eater, but hot damn do I love chocolate. After this, though, I feel like we’re going to have to stop seeing each other for a little while. Or a long while. I hope the chocolate festival didn’t ruin me for other chocolate.

Who am I kidding? You know I’ll go running back with open arms.

Jill Kolongowski is a freelance writer and editor living in San Francisco. When she’s not cooking, running, or reading, she blogs at Follow her on Twitter at @jillkolongowski.

One Response to “The Ghiradelli Square Chocolate Festival”
  1. carol says:

    Well, what can I say? Chocolate tour in Boston was a walking tour and minus the alcohol and no migraine, although we were spaced out and spinning heads. Hypoglycemia and chocolate and alcohol is okay in small doses. Moderation, baby! I’m just saying I been there too. Hope it was fun. Long live dark chocolate!!

%d bloggers like this: