Welcome to our website ! Our vision is to inspire & promote international understanding through education and cultural exchange between South America - Ecuador and the rest of the world. To help people rediscover life with purpose, integrity and compassion, benefit from our experiences, and acquire knowledge for living in harmony in a globally interdependent and culturally diverse world. To share our "life changing adventure experiences" with family and friends worldwide. We have consolidated a wealth of the best resources on Ecuador, along with travel journals and photos. Our hope is that you will find this a valuable, user friendly resource network, which enriches your life, enables you to learn, challenges your thinking, and empowers you to discover and undertake your own new experiences and adventures.

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Ghiradelli Chocolate Story - San Francisco

Ghiradelli Chocolate is known throughout the world for its rich, premium chocolate made in San Francisco. San Francisco has always had a special place in our hearts ! The success story of Ghirardelli Chocolate is an interesting story originating from South American & European roots. 

Domenico Ghirardelli was born in 1817 in Rapallo, Italy. His father was an exotic foods importer and introduced his son to chocolate when he was very young. Domenico grew to love chocolate and apprenticed at a local candy maker. 

At the age of 20 he set sail with his wife to Uruguay to play an active role in the chocolate trade. He took a job in a coffee and chocolate establishment. A year later, attracted by opportunities in Lima, he sailed around Cape Horn to Peru. In Peru he opened his own confectionery store and changed his name to the Spanish equivalent Domingo.

Enticed by stories of prosperity from the gold rush in California he left for San Francisco taking 600 lbs of chocolate with him. He tried mining but was unsuccessful, so he set up a tent and sold supplies & confections to fellow miners. With his new business proving successful, Domingo decides to open a store and hotel in San Francisco. With his success he went on to open a second store in San Francisco 

In May of 1851 a major fire destroyed 1,500 buildings including his businesses. He begins to rebuild immediately starting with a coffee house then in 1852, he forms a new confectionery company that becomes the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. By 1866 they were importing over 1000 lbs annually.  

Some of the best cocao beans in the world are grown in the rich fertile soils of Ecuador.  

By 1884, 3 out of 4 of Domingo's sons were active business partners. The company was now importing over 450,000 lbs annually, had 30 employees and sold their products across the U.S. & to China, Japan, and Mexico. In 1893 the manufacturing facility required more space and they moved to the Pioneer Woolen Mill building and their present northern waterfront location.

Their success in transforming the cocoa bean into chocolate can be attributed to consistency in six important steps :

      1. Selection of the best quality & flavour cocoa beans
      2. Deep roasting process of the nibs
      3. Milling and pressing the butter and liquor from the roasted nibs
      4. Proprietary mixing & refining
      5. Developing the flavour through paddles agitating the chocolate known as " conching"
      6. Cooling and placing in molds



Over time new apartment, office, and production buildings were constructed with Victorian design to meet their emerging needs, a prominent Clock Tower and in 1923 the 15 ft high illuminated letters "Ghirardelli" were placed atop the roof which became an official city landmark and icon. 


Visible for miles the sign has become a welcoming site for arriving ships. Expansion caused the manufacturing facilities to move across the bay to San Leandro.

Today, Ghirardelli Chocolate Company has built on its signature taste and 150 years of traditional manufacturing processes to become America's premium chocolate company.  Chocolate - historically the " food of the gods. "

San Francisco has always had a special place in our hearts ! The culinary scene is extensive and ethnically varied. 


The sophisticated arts & music scene with theater, ballet, opera, will awaken your senses. 


Hanging on the outside of the famous cable cars ascending and descending the steep hills with bells merrily clanging, and the pungent smell of wood brakes working on a crisp autumn morning, providing spectacular vistas from Nob Hill.


Noisy bustle, bright neon lights, and distinct aromas from Chinatown. 


Fresh steaming seafood chowder served in fresh sourdough bread bowls on Fishermen's Wharf to the delicious aromas of fresh roasted coffee, and roasting cocoa beans from Ghirardelli Chocolate. 


Or the lazy sunny afternoons with " woodstock like" concerts in Golden Gate Park. Golden Gate Bridge crossing the San Fransisco Bay overlooking Alcatraz, and linking the scenic coastal route, and the famous Napa valley wineries with Golden Gate park.  

On Lombard street " the crookedest street in the world "  Virginia and her family proudly provide fresh, generous portion breakfasts, featuring signature omelets in the unpretentious local Lombard Street Cafe. 


Or after the sun sets, on Columbus Ave in little Italy, the memorable meals enjoyed at "the Stinking Rose" a world famous garlic restaurant where " they season the garlic with food " - not for the timid. Or visit the nearby annual Gilroy Garlic Festival. 


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Bahia de Caraquez, Manabi, Ecuador