Chocolate-covered strawberries

My childhood friend Serena’s bridal shower is in two weeks. Our friend Lisa is preparing Spanish tapas. Bernice is bringing two gallons of her husband Frank’s amazing sangria. My job is to bring a few dozen chocolate-covered strawberries. They don’t quite fit with the tapas bar theme, but so what. It’s Serena’s day, and she loves them.

“Bernice and Lisa are doing homemade,” I told my man Patrick, “I want to go homemade, too. How hard can it be to cover strawberries in chocolate?”

Patrick nodded, said nothing, and kind of half-smiled. Looking back, I see there was something in that smile — an unspoken warning that I should have heeded. Because two hours and a $100 grocery-shopping trip later, I stood in my kitchen moist-eyed before three cookie sheets full of chocolate-stained strawberries. The chocolate that should have been clinging to berries had oozed off and formed a brown puddle.

Patrick grabbed me around the waist, scooped up a fingerful of chocolate, and put it on my lips. “You don’t need to be a great dessert chef, baby,” he said. “Charles Schulz said, ‘All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.’”

“That Peanuts man knew what he was talking about,” I laughed.

“The kids and I will eat these ones,” my man said. “Why don’t you call around and see where you can buy some good...uh, better ones.”

“We sell them on Fridays and Saturdays,” replied the clerk at Elegant Truffles, located in Point Loma ($3 each; 619-222-1889). “They are long-stemmed strawberries, extremely large, about the size of a small apple, dipped in dark chocolate.”

The strawberries, she told me, are prepared offsite.

“We sell a cone of small strawberries, about five to six strawberries,” offered the saleslady at Godiva Chocolatier in the Fashion Valley Mall ($12.50 for a cone; 619-293-7492). “You can purchase a cone of strawberries dipped in all dark chocolate, all milk, or a mix of dark, milk, and white [$12.50]. We also sell individual, larger-sized strawberries. They are about the size of a plum [$7 each]. We make them each day, but if you want to pick them up first thing in the morning it is best to call ahead of time and place an order.”

“Call a few days in advance,” said the lady at Sumi’s Oven in Carmel Mountain. “We get our strawberries from the farmers’ market. They are pretty big. We dip them in dark chocolate and then we can do a drizzle or nuts or toasted coconut or chocolate curls [$2 each; 858-676-0760].”

“Our dark-chocolate-covered strawberries are made here,” explained the lady at Arely’s French Bakery in Clairemont ($1 each; 858-270-1910).

“We sell them by the dozen, and you need to order them a couple days ahead,” said the man at Extraordinary Desserts in Little Italy (619-294-7001). “We sell them coated in white chocolate or dark chocolate. The long-stemmed strawberries are $45 a dozen, the regular strawberries are $36 a dozen.”

“Our strawberries are coated in dark chocolate, and we can drizzle them with white chocolate also,” offered the saleslady at Champagne French Bakery Cafe in Carmel Mountain ($2.75 each; 858-613-7767). “Ordering ahead of time is recommended.”

“Give me a day or two,” answered the man at San Diego Desserts, located in the College Area. “We can make them for you. They are coated in dark chocolate [$1.75 each; 619-287-8186].”

“The dark-chocolate-covered strawberries we sell are made here,” said the lady at the Gaslamp’s Chocolat Cremeries ($1.95 each; 619-238-9400).

Edible Arrangements (619-464-1111) sells a dozen in semi-sweet chocolate for $29. With white-chocolate drizzle, they run $39 a dozen.

The local delivery company San Diego Rose Company sells hand-dipped chocolate strawberries (858-273-5902). Three strawberries dipped half in white, half in dark chocolate, plus three more strawberries dipped in dark chocolate with drizzle runs $19.95 plus delivery. For a dozen, the dipped strawberries cost $39.95 plus delivery.

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