Where to take your Dad for Father’s Day? How about a Chocolate Bar?

I usually give a couple of recommendations for Father’s Day but I need you to understand how divine this place is so I am only talking about Eclipse Chocolat today.

Tucked away in North Park San Diego, is a cozy little hole in the wall looking place until you open the door to the chocolate bar and see how pretty it is inside. Specializing in chocolate desserts and pastries, drinks, truffles and caramel/vanilla or chocolate infused food, Eclipse Chocolat is a gem. They are a tiny shop with a small dedicated staff that takes chocolate to the level of art. I tried their Lavendar sea salt truffle and the minute that salty sweetness touched my tongue I became a lifelong fan.

On Sat. June 16th, they’ll have a Dad’s Day BBQ where everything is infused with either vanilla, chocolate or caramel. Here’s the menu for $30/person:

BBQ pulled pork nachos with sundried tomato guacamole

Heirloom tomato, basil & strawberry caprese with white chocolate balsamic drizzle

Cinnamon brown sugar braised beef short ribs or black bean eggplant burger served with cheesy twice baked potato and panko-vanilla bean crust

Frozen milk chocolate peanut butter mousse with salted brownie crumb crust.

If you want to go on the actual Father’s Day Sunday, they have a chocolate brunch every Sunday from 9am-2pm for $14 including two plates. Choices include Cocoa-glazed bacon, chocolate bacon waffle, strawberry rhubarb-stuffed french toast, dark chocolate salted croissant, Cheesy tamales with cocoa mole and many more.

This place has a good vegan offerings and also serve pastries, coffee, wine, cupcakes, etc. They have great options for party favors.

Related articles:
http://eclipsechocolat.blogspot.com/2008_07_01_archive.html

http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/feast/2011/dec/07/up-too-early-on-sunday/

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Best little Known places and faces in San Diego: Crunchtime Popcorn and Homemade Ice Cream Review

Ice cream has been ruined for me forever.

I love ice cream. It’s my one weakness, the weakness that even the best intentioned New Year’s diet resolution cannot touch.

Before stepping foot into the doors of San Diego’s Crunchtime Popcorn and Homemade Ice Cream, I could eat ANY type of ice cream:¬† Ben and Jerry’s, Dreyers, Baskin Robbins, even a Klondike bar would do.

But after having Crunchtime’s homemade Caramel Ice-Cream mixed Cold Stone style with freshly baked brownies and cookie dough rolled just that morning, no other ice cream will now do!

As soon as the spoon hit my tongue, the caramel flavor transported me back to my childhood standing at the grocery store candy section, which back then was a row of see-through plastic bins filled with Brach’s candy.

My favorite was the square caramels and the taste of that ice cream was exactly that heavenly flavor. I remember the crinkle of the empty cellophane bag as I greedily scooped in caramel candy and yellow candy wrapped in orange plastic.That was childhood heaven and that’s where that first bite led me to.

This kind of nostalgic feeling is exactly what the owner, Kim, is trying to accomplish. Head of this literal, mom & pop store, she works alongside her husband, the creative chef who comes up with all of the gourmet popcorn flavors including caramel bliss, white chocolate and cheddar cheese sensation. Even their son works the family business.

And as soon as you walk in the store and have a conversation with them, you’ll feel like part of the family too. They are the most genuinely kind and friendly people you’ll ever meet. I found out randomly that they were the first Americans to befriend one of the lonely international students I know who had just arrived in San Diego and didn’t have any friends yet. That student still remembers them years later.

When I shared with Kim the nostalgia that overwhelmed me and complimented her on such a delicious dessert, she smiled and said that she wanted her customers to feel like they are back in Grandma’s kitchen with the warmth and love that came with it. From the fresh-baked cookies to the thick squares of handmade fudge brownies, I think she’s succeeded.

She prides herself on the freshest, natural ingredients. They use only local dairies, incorporate real lemons for their sorbets and use real yogurt in their frozen yogurt. Her strawberry ice cream really tastes like strawberries because they use only fresh fruits. Her chocolate is imported from Switzerland. They hand-make their waffle cones from scratch. They get their corn for their gourmet popcorn straight from Iowa and air pop them using no oil.

I expected her to charge an arm and a leg for all of the extra work and for the superior  quality of the ingredients she uses but it was the cherry on top of the ice-cream to see the affordability of everything she serves.

The biggest secret I have to share is that they do catering! Kim mentioned the amazing catering service they offer where they bring several flavors of their delectable homemade ice cream, cold stone slab (like an iced table) and all their yummy toppings to your party, corporate event and even your wedding. They do Cold Stone type mixing that is the best thing you’ll ever taste. I had the Caramel with fudge brownie AND cookie dough in one of their white chocolate waffle cones with sprinkles. They mix it all up in front of you and it’s heavenly from start to finish.

I asked her the price of her catering, expecting it to be very expensive, but it’s a real steal starting out at just $5/person!! Their individual gourmet popcorn bags are another affordable deal that she says works great as party favors in lieu of boring old candy or mints at any party.

They are located on the west end of Petco Park, K St. across from the Marriott Hotel downtown. The actual store is nothing too fancy, just small, intimate and extremely cozy. But you aren’t there for the decor, you’re there to ruin ice cream forever for yourself like it did for me. Because once you’ve tasted what ice cream is really supposed to taste like- there’s no going back!

You can sample their delicious treats at the San Diego Bridal Bazaar on Jan. 29th. BFFbridesmaid is lucky enough to be in the booth next door to them. Booth #107. Come say hi and try some tasty treats next door…

http://www.crunchtimepopcorn.com

611 K. St.