Those things in the picture are large granite wheels that grind up cacao nibs in the process of making cholcolate. The machine is called a Melangeur, and that one belongs to the Scharffen Berger chocolate factory in Berkeley. Some friends and I that normally only communicate online toured the factory Saturday, as a pretext towards seeing each other face to face.
The tour is fast, and begins with a talk, which was welcome, as the factory is very small, and on a weekend there isn't much going on. Actually walking the production floor was a little anticlimactic. Our guide was a good speaker, and the talk and tour were just the right length, depositing us in the factory store at the end. Everybody brought some home. The factory is in a brick warehouse building off of Ashby built in 1906, but John Scharfenberger and Robert Steinberg have only been makking chocolate since 1996, and only making it at that location since 2001.
The history section of their website notes that the building is historically significant, but in the end that's just a tease. A ferocious amount of googling tantalized me with the idea that the building might be the Phister Knitting building, also built in 1906, when that business moved from San Francisco after the earthquake. That building turned out to be this one instead though, just a few blocks away.
Which is kind of a lurking thing for me in all of this. I'm reminded that most of my research is prayer to the tin god Google, and I've already found the edges of the internet there, in places. It's the same when I try to write fiction: the main character steps out into the street, and immediately I'm grinding about which street, and what's the weather like there in January, and I've stopped writing.
Still, I'm finding some interesting stuff, and I'm going to write it out, and see what happens. Where I'm incomplete, or flatly wrong, I'm counting on you to accuse me of as much. I promise I'll give credit where credit is due, and that I'll faithfully steal and execute on all the ideas for future articles I can get from the criticism. Just learning these past two weeks that much will be learned doing this. No harm in that, of course.
All terribly interesting to you, no doubt.
Last week's start of things hasn't dissapeared, I've just not yet built the page that will link to past articles. It's ccoming, hopefully some time this week, along with some adds to the Links page, and maybe something for the Found section that has yet to make an appearance as more than a linkless h2 on the main page.
Great thanks to my friend Meera Hyphenated for the picture for this week. She and her husband Puzzled are fine photographers. Check out their stuff, and leave them a comment or two, flickr-style. They take really beautiful photographs.
Thanks again for visiting. More from here next week.