Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ghiradelli Outlet Store | Lathrop, CA

This past summer, when we learned that one of our favorite baseball players was the starting pitcher in a game featuring the Modesto Nuts and the San Jose Giants, we piled into the van and proceeded to make the 82 mile trip south on Highway 99. All along the way, we anticipated seeing a performance like no other. We envisioned catching foul balls and having them signed by the players who hit them. And we couldn't wait to indulge ourselves on hot dogs, cracker jack, and ice cream. Unfortunately, 24,000 other fans were feeling the same way.

There was not a parking space to be found. There was not a ticket to be sold. Disappointed? You bet. Sorry that we attempted the trip? Absolutely not! We were not yet ready to give up on a promising family night out. Not even close.

Banking on the hope of making lemonade from lemons, we turned our sights to chocolate. That's not to say that this new adventure made up for the sights and wonder that can only be found at the ballpark, but we weren't thinking about just any kind of chocolate. Rather, our senses were quickly "turned on" to the timeless pleasure that only Ghirardelli Chocolates can bring. Never heard of 'em? Please forgive me for being crass, but what rock have you been living under?

A San Francisco staple since 1852, the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company was founded by Italian-born Domingo Ghirardelli, who, after spending ten years in South America honing his dream of creating one-of-a-kind confections, immigrated to California during the Gold Rush. He struck it rich from the very start, and quickly turned his attention towards opening his first factory and storefront along the historic piers that overlooked the bay. Again, success was swift. Ghirardelli's use of high quality cocoa beans and extensive conching techniques earned him a reputation as America's premier chocolatier. There was no mistaking the unique taste of his candies, and the company flourished under his direction. Before long, the signature lights held high above the company's majestic brick facade "welcomed ships passing through the Golden Gate."

Today, Ghirardelli Square is home to numerous shops and eateries. It is also among the city's top tourist attractions with thousands having walked through the courtyard. Each stopping, of course, at the original Ghirardelli manufactory to make a purchase or to enjoy an unforgettable fountain treat. We've been there many times, but not on this day. If given the opportunity, however, we probably would have traveled down that road.

No, we didn't high-tail it to the city. Instead, we made our way to Lathrop, California, where, straddling one side of the I-5, the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company built one of its distribution warehouses. And tucked in one small corner of the building, you can stop in to pick up a box (or bag) of their chocolate squares while enjoying a frozen dessert, just like the ones made special in San Francisco. For example, there's the Cable Car (Rocky Road Sundae), the Gold Rush (Peanut Butter Hot Fudge Sundae), the Haight Ashberry (Very Berry Sundae with Strawberries and Chocolate-Covered Blueberries), and the Espresso Escape (An Intense Dark Chocolate Sundae). There's certainly much more to choose from, but we had finally found our heaven that night ... We had finally found restitution from the earlier let down.

The Ghirardelli Chocolate Company has a handful of locations and outlets throughout the United States that stretch from San Francisco to Miami, and their products are found all over the world in many fine grocery stores, specialty food shops, and gift boutiques. You now know where we go to satisfy our guilty pleasure. Where do you go to satisfy yours?

Ghiradelli Factory Outlet Store
11980 S Harlan Rd
Lathrop, CA 95330

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