Tonight, the Mission's chocolate sanctuary -- Dandelion -- launches a whimsical, delicious iteration of a long holiday tradition. The bean-to-bar operation is inaugurating the Twelve Nights of Christmas -- a series of events packed to the brim with high-profile pastry chefs, tastings, pairings, a food drive, a (certain) movie, and more. And, in the true spirit of the season, profits from the chef series will go to the SF/Marin Food Bank. If there's a better excuse to take off our mittens than wine and fancy chocolate treats, we haven't found it.
The lineup of chefs is stacked with glittering names wrangling their own inventive takes with Dandelion's chocolate. Pastry doyenne Emily Lucchetti of Farallon fame is teaming up with Janet Dalton (formerly of Postrio) for something called the "Crunchy Creamy All Chocolate Pop Up Party." There are whispers of a hot chocolate milkshake, among a waterfall of other treats. Jessica Sullivan of Delfina will take over the factory with a three-course Italian dessert tasting paired with drinks by Locanda.
Later in the week, Michael Mina's Lincoln Carson is heading up the most intoxicatingly mysterious event, a chocolate and whisky ceremony with three Suntory whiskies served Oyu-Wari style, including unblended barrel samples to compare with the chocolate. Angela Salvatore (Waterbar) and Terri Wu (Farallon) are rounding out the chefs' series next Friday with a prix fixe chocolate menu and spirit pairings by Bar Agricole's venerable Craig Lane.
The rest of the Twelve Nights are populated by a slew of chocolatey evenings, launching tonight with a talk by Greg D'Alesandre, the company's cacao bean buyer, who will focus on his recent trip to Guatemala. On Wednesday, local author Andrea Lawson Grey will be signing books and demoing her recipe for Mexican hot chocolate and chocolate dipping sauce for churros. Other nights are populated by a food drive, a cookie pop-up featuring treats from Dandelion's pastry chef Lisa Vega, who, before joining Dandelion in September, clocked time baking at Bouchon and more recently manned the ovens at Gary Danko.
Two of the nights are populated by a particularly interesting wine and chocolate tasting, wherein wines from Wattle Creek will be paired with cacao and chocolate at every step of the production process (as nibs, chocolate, brownies, and the warm, melty dose of almost-finished chocolate straight from the churning barrel of a melanger).
And of course, for one night, the chocolate factory will transform itself into a movie theater to screen that certain movie about a chocolate factory. If you show up for Willy Wonka (the 1971 version, obviously), there's chocolate-covered popcorn in it for you, and maybe a golden ticket too. A fondue night will cap off the whole series on night twelve. So, if you're looking for a custom-fit smattering of options for holiday date nights or places to bring your visiting mom, these are twelve good bets.
For a thorough rundown of events or to buy tickets, visit the Dandelion Chocolate blog.