Of the multitude of temptations that plague modern man only seven are considered deadly. Naturally, humans have been warned throughout history to avoid this septet of transgressions. But one peccadillo is just so much fun that it's nearly a sin not to occasionally wallow in its seductiveness: gluttony. And when you opt for indulgence, why not go all the way? Don't waste your time bingeing on second-rate pizza or greasy fries when sinfully delicious and decadent chocolate is just begging, nay, pleading, to be devoured in all its mouthwatering wonder.
At least, that's the case at Ghirardelli Square's 8th Annual Chocolate Festival, where tempting treats courtesy of food purveyors from all over the Bay Area are there for the taking, including confections like truffles, tiramisu, fudge cake, and more unusual delicacies such as chocolate-dipped naan bread. In an all-out ode to the art of pigging out, Sunday's 3 p.m. ice cream sundae-eating contest nets the lucky gourmand a coveted caloric prize: his weight in chocolate. Interested in a less stomach-turning competition? This year marks the first California Culinary Academy cook-off, in which aspiring chefs present their chocolaty creations to be judged on presentation, creativity, and taste. Fortunately, there's no need to feel guilty about your sweet tooth: All proceeds go to the noble Project Open Hand. Join your fellow sinners starting at noon both days at Ghirardelli Square, 900 North Point (at Larkin), S.F. The $6 admission includes five treat samples; call 775-5500 or visit www.ghirardellisq.com.
-- Sunny Andersen
It's unavoidable, a little embarrassing, and feels so, so good -- loving Chuck Palahniuk's writing, that is. Everybody does it. It's OK. It won't make hair grow on your palms. On the other hand, you're not special. But no matter. Listen closely, fans of Choke, Lullaby, and Fight Club: C.P. is not only going to be reading from his latest novel, Diary, but he's also bringing prizes to hand out. Little, exciting, mysterious prizes that he bought himself. Father forgive us, we can't stop. Reading and giveaways begin at 7 p.m. at the Park Branch Library, 1833 Page (at Cole), S.F. Admission is free; call 863-8688 or visit www.booksmith.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
While San Francisco is a divine place for adult dwellers, in recent years wee ones have been shafted a bit as city officials' priorities have turned toward the interests of business and developers and away from issues affecting the young: schools, parks, child care, and so on. The "Mayoral Candidate Forum on Children's Issues" brings together challengers like Angela Alioto, Tom Ammiano, Susan Leal, Gavin Newsom, and Tony Ribera to explain how they plan to address local education, housing, safety, health care, and recreation over the next four years. The discussion begins at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center Complex Basement Auditorium, 455 Golden Gate (at Larkin), S.F. Admission is free; call 239-0161 or visit www.colemanadvocates.org.
-- Joyce Slaton
When completed, it will be the only one of its kind in the United States. It will attract tourists from near and far, inspire schoolchildren, and make the city more interesting. Like any good arts institution, it will be a place for research, scholarship, and celebration of the achievements of humanity. No wonder everyone's so excited about the beginning of construction of the Mexican Museum, celebrated today in tandem with Mexican Independence Day. Renowned architect Ricardo Legorreta's latest models will be on display while celebrities mingle, live music plays, and tasty treats are dished up. Begin the festivities at 6:30 p.m. in Yerba Buena Gardens, Third & Mission streets, S.F. Admission is $15; call 861-2606 or visit www.sfhcc.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser