Journal

Top 6 Unique Spots in Culver City

Top 6 Unique Spots in Culver City

Looking for a unique experience in Culver City after years of trudging to the same old haunts? New to the area? Don’t know anywhere to take and impress friends visiting town? We’ve got a few recommendations for you to check out. Some are unique, others are hipster chic, and still others are just strange- but all of them provide a service, product, or experience that’s something very special.

1. Copenhagen Pastry 

11113 Washington Blvd .  As the first authentic Danish pastry shop in California, Copenhagen was already unique when it first opened in 2012. Now, it’s unique in that it may be one of the best bakeries in Los Angeles. Every pastry at Copenhagen is fresh baked throughout the day, and the staff is incredibly good at guiding you through the options. The huge variety of pastries can be overwhelming, from apple Danish (dairy-free) to romkugle (a dense chocolate cake bite made with, you guessed it, rum) to traditional kranse (a gluten-free almond flour cake), but don’t worry- everything is delicious. They also serve tea and coffee to go with their lovely pastries.

2. The Blind Barber    

10797 Washington Blvd . This little barbershop gives great cuts during the day, and their rates include a glass of wine or beer while you get your haircut. The stylists are nice and the barbershop has a very 50s feel, with lots of chrome, but the real star of the show is the transformation that takes place every night. After eight, the barbershop reopens as a speakeasy. The surprisingly large bar in the back room has friendly bartenders, serves fantastic (and strong) drinks, and good DJs spinning it up all night. The place is packed with a hip crowd and a line outside well before midnight, but the speakeasy vibe doesn’t get lost with the popularity. The place oozes cool and is a great first stop after dinner on a Saturday night.

3. Grand Casino Bakery & Café

3826 Main St . Grand Casino is a Culver City institution, having recently celebrated 30 years in Downtown Culver City. The bakery makes bread, pastries, and cakes, and the restaurant serves up simple and fresh Argentinean fare. Both the café and bakery have a relaxed ambiance, and guests are free to stay for a few hours at a time. The empanadas, traditionally fried, are baked instead for a lighter, healthier pastry, and the breakfast and brunch options, like Abuela’s Pascualina (a spinach, ham, and egg tart), are tasty and filling. Recommended from the bakery are the alfajores, hand cut cookies sandwiched with dulce de leche, and the cuatro leches cake, a tres leches cake with a drizzle of dulce de leche.

4. The Museum of Jurassic Technology  

9341 Venice Blvd .The Museum of Jurassic Technology isn’t so much a museum as it is the love child of a classic horror film and a crazed German collector of uniquities. It may just be the physical embodiment of Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein. Regardless, it’s an interesting spot- the exhibits are so strange and the whole museum so surreal that you’ll likely leave wondering what just happened. It’s fun to go through with a friend and then try to figure out which (if any) exhibits are real while you enjoy the upstairs tearoom. Tea and ginger snaps are free with admission, but being surrounded by dogs while a strange man plays violin to the doves is priceless.  

5. Shikibu    

10834 ½ Washington Blvd. The true definition of hole-in-the-wall, Shikibu is tiny and easily missed from the street. Only seating six people inside at the bar, this feels like an extremely private experience with their exquisite sushi. All the sushi is made with soft, delicious, and healthy brown rice, and the pieces of fish are cut into generous portions. The husband (chef) and wife (server and host) team who run the restaurant are kind, if a bit eccentric. There are multiple handwritten signs telling patrons how to behave in a sushi bar, but they’re actually quite cute. The couple is careful to select organic produce and quality ingredients, and the food shows their consideration.

6. lastly, ChocoVivo    

12469 Washington Blvd 

if you didn't know, we are the first bean-to-bar chocolate factory in Los Angeles, ChocoVivo has a unique take on all things chocolate. For first-timers, a chocolate drink or tasting flight is a good introduction to the style of chocolate and different flavors the shop carries. Every month, there’s a limited edition chocolate like Lavender & Blueberries or Pineapple, Hemp & Coconut and a number of events for chocolate lovers. In the past, there have been heirloom chocolate tastings, chocolate and liquor pairings, film screenings, and jazz nights. This place is also a great stop for gifts like a simple chocolate bar or a lovely rose- scented chocolate body oil, with free gift wrapping, or, for five dollars, gifts can boxed with a process notebook describing how the chocolate is sourced and made.

 List by ChocoVivo chocolate expert and Culver City native, Amaris Bellord 

Spicy Mexican Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipe

Spicy Mexican Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipe

This recipe is PERFECT for those following a gluten-free diet but want to spice it up. We combined our Cacao Almond Butter and spicy bar to create a Mayan Tradition-flavored dense cake. 

 

Ingredients:

4 eggs

1 cup ChocoVivo Chocolate Almond Butter

1 cup Almond Butter 

½ cup Coconut sugar

½ teaspoon of salt

2 teaspoon baking soda

4 oz of Mayan Tradition Chocolate

Vanilla extract

Instructions:  

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees

2. Beat eggs and combine with  almond butter, vanilla extract. Mix well

3. In Separate bowl, mix 4 oz Mayan Tradition Chocolate and ½ C of coconut sugar, add baking soda and combine both bowls

4. Bake for 15 min in a square pan.

Yields about 15 square pieces of cake 

Optional* Frost the top of the brownie with Chocolate Almond Butter & Dust with Crushed Roasted Cacao Beans.

We offer discounted pricing for bulk baking orders. Give us a call and we will help you with selecting the best chocolate for your recipe! For more information the ingredients listed, click below:

Mayan Tradition Bar

Cacao Almond Butter

Roasted Cacao Beans 

Cacao Dust 

 

ChocoVivo Cacao Mask Recipe

ChocoVivo Cacao Mask Recipe

The benefits of cacao extend beyond just eating it. Applying cacao to skin topically has it's own perks, including a boost of antioxidants which promote collagen production and reduce free-radical damage. It can also reduce redness due to  anti-inflammatory properties found in cacao! To read more about the benefits of cacao for beautiful skin, find the Journal of Nutrition study here

After using many different masks, we decided to try our own with ChocoVivo cacao powder . The recipe is super easy, check it out below!

 

ChocoVivo Cacao Face Mask 

  • 1 Tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 2 tsp clay (green, red, bentonite, or white depending on the desired effet)
  • 1/2 tsp oil jojoba oil or cacao oil 
  • 1 small cup of steeped green tea, for adding slowly 

Mix ingredients and add green tea until consistency is thick and fluffy. Apply thick layer to face for 10 - 15 minutes. To remove mask, use an old towel as it could stain. Wash face with hot water. Rinse well and follow up with your favorite face oil, we love our Rose Cacao Oil

ChocoVivo Summer Guide to the Westside

ChocoVivo Summer Guide to the Westside

School's out for summer, or it's summer friday season at least! How do you plan to spend it? If you aren't going on a trip this summer, you can still be a tourist in our city and escape to the beach! We've compiled a list of our favorite places to hit on a day off on the Westside.

1. Wake up early and head to the beach.  Early morning is the perfect time to squeeze in a surf or check out a new yoga class before the day starts. We suggest Kundalini with Guru Mitar at Mandala.

2. Grab a coffee at Blue Bottle on Abbot Kinney. Now that you are relaxed and feeling zen, time for some coffee and a bite to eat. After coffee, stroll down Abbot Kinney and see whats new. 

3. Lunch at Cafe Gratitude is never a bad idea. If you're following a vegan diet and want casual vibe with venice walkability, this is the place. Try one of their bowls or a smoothie to cool down and escape the summer heat. 

4. A quick massage at The Now on Main. Have you heard of The Now Spa? A few months ago they opened their Main St. location and it's the perfect place to stop in for a quick massage. They have one that is just 25 minutes, but the perfect amount of time to de-stress and unwind. Once inside you'll immediately feel transported. 

5. Bring a Picnic to the Summer Twilight Series at the Pier. The Summer Twilight Concert Series kicks off today at the Santa Monica Pier. This is a great place to bring the whole family, or a date. Check out the line up here. Concerts happen every Thursday. From now until the end of the series, we'll be creating to-go tastings bags so you can have your own wine and chocolate pairing on the beach. 

The Florentine Codex + History of Drinking Cacao

The Florentine Codex + History of Drinking Cacao

 Where Did Chocolate Originate?

When many people think of the beginnings of chocolate, they imagine European chocolatiers with big white hats, lovingly stirring chocolate in a small charming cobblestone village. While Switzerland, France and Belgium are part of chocolate’s history; the origins of chocolate go back much further to Mesoamerica -where cacao was an integral part of not only cultural and spiritual practices but of the economy as a whole.

The first mention of cacao was in the Florentine Codex written by Spanish friar Bernardino Sahagún in 16th century. The Codex, also known as Historia General, is an ethnographic chronicle detailing the daily lives and practices of Mesoamerican society. Some historians refer to Friar Sahagún as one of the world’s first anthropologists. Thanks to his detailed accounts, we know exactly how chocolate was consumed.

According to the Aztec and Mayan, cacao was a sacred gift from the gods and was treated with the upmost reverence. There were parades honoring the god of cacao, which included drinking cacao as part of ceremonial practices. Even the word “chocolate” comes from the Aztec word “xocoatl” which translates to “bitter drink.”

How Was it Consumed?

This bitter drink consisted of pure cacao and an array of spices mixed with water. So how did chocolate transform from this watery, bitter drink to the chocolate we know today?

It is said that the Spanish did not think the native Mayan spices would be marketable in Europe. So they decided to remove them and add sweeteners, and thickening agents like milk. The result is the European sipping chocolate and bars we are familiar with today.

What to Order for the Mayan Experience?

If you are interested in tasting an authentic drinking chocolate, come in to the shop and order a Mayan Tradition with water or a 100% cacao with water...if you dare. For those looking for more of a sweet treat, we have an array of chocolate drinks, and even the European-style sipping chocolates.

Learn More

If you are interested in learning more about the origins of chocolate, we host AirBnb experiences that dive into chocolate’s rich history as well as the production of cacao and it's flavor profiles. Click here to find out more.

Chocolate Avocado Mousse Recipe

Chocolate Avocado Mousse Recipe

Summer time calls for lighter, colder desserts. Give this healthy alternative to ice cream a try, and let us know how it goes! 
 
Total Time: 5m
Yield: 4 servings

 

Ingredients

  • flesh of 2 ripe avocados (240g)
  • ChocoVivo 75% bar (80g) 
  • 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup milk of choice (60-120g)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • pinch stevia OR 2-6 tbsp sweetener of choice

* Top with your favorite nuts, cacao nibs, or fruit for added texture 

Instructions

Carefully melt chocolate in a double boiler until smooth. Combine ingredients in a blender or food processor until completely smooth. Use less milk or milk substitute for a thicker mousse. Use sweetener of choice to taste. Note that the chocolate will already be sweet. If you're looking for a sugar free alternative try one of our Paleo Bars or Choco Vivo 100%

How to Host your own Chocolate and Wine Pairing

How to Host your own Chocolate and Wine Pairing

 
Imagine several bottles of wine, a spread of chocolates, and a group of friends gathered around a kitchen or dining table, all ready to enjoy a cozy evening together.
 
We’ve hosted several events just like this, where one of our chocolate-makers designs an adventure for the palate and guides a tasting in the home. The good news is that you can design your own, with a little wine knowledge and a little help from us here at ChocoVivo.

 

Step 1: The Wine List:

We recommend choosing your wines first because there can be such huge variation in the palates of different wines. Each chocolate could potentially pair with hundreds of wines of different varietals that happen to share a similar flavor note, but each wine may only have one or two chocolate mates.

 

We have paired chocolate with wines of all types before, but reds usually pair with chocolate the best, followed by whites then sparkling wines. Consider dessert wines, fortified wines, and other unique wines for a more interesting experience. Just keep in mind when choosing wines that chocolate is a big bold flavor, and it can easily overwhelm a very delicate wine.

 

Step 2: The Pairing

 This is where these events can become a little confusing, because it’s difficult to know how to pair wines without an in-depth knowledge of wine tasting. If you have trouble, feel free to stop by our store for a few pointers, and if you’ve decided the process is not for you, you can hand off the pairing to us for a small fee.

 Generally, if you have not yet tasted the wine, you can pull a description of the wine off of the winery’s website or from a review of the wine. Here’s a sample description for a wine we paired recently:
Lafage; Cotes du Roussillon Villages; South France; Grenache & Syrah; 2014
Lots of black raspberry, chocolate covered currants, pepper and olive notes giving way to a full-bodied 2014; it has polished tannin and a seamless texture. A blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah that was aged mostly in concrete tanks.

 

We paired this with our Shangri-La chocolate, which is a 55% dark chocolate with goji berries and black sesame. The fruity notes of the Lafage pair well with the sweetness of goji berries, and those olive notes add saltiness that pairs well with the nuttiness of black sesame.

Use your intuition- if two flavors sound good together, go ahead and pair them.

 

Step 3: The Style

Will your guests move at their own pace while chocolates and wine glasses are set out around the room, or will you lead a group and describe the pairings as you go? This depends on the number of people involved and the style of gathering you’re holding. For large groups at a party, a tasting room, with a more relaxed move-at-your-own-pace atmosphere, may work better than trying to pour tastings and pass out chocolates.With a more intimate group, pouring each tasting can be a moment when you can chat with each of your guests or guests can talk amongst themselves. Generally, a guided tasting is more formal because it requires that your guests are attentive and quiet as you describe the pairings.

Step 3: The Day Of Prep

On the day of, you’ll want to work out how you’re laying out or passing out the chocolate.
You can order our tasting pieces, which are cut into perfect squares, one week in advance, or you can come in and grab a few bars to break up at home. If you decide to buy bars, assume each bar is enough chocolate for about eight good-sized pieces. You’ll want to break up the bars in advance; we suggest setting the pieces on plates in your fridge and taking them out about ten minutes before the tasting.
A tasting of wine is usually about an ounce, so a tasting flight of five is equivalent to drinking one moderately sized glass of wine. To learn how to eyeball that amount, take a wine glass and pour in two tablespoons of water. Because only two or three sips are needed to taste the wine, a bottle of wine is enough for about twenty tastings. Much of the time, guests will want to go back and have a glass of their favorite wine, so make sure to get an extra bottle (or two!) of each pairing wine just for that purpose.
Once you’ve set up your tasting area, make sure you have your wines ready at the correct temperature and enough plates and glasses to serve all your guests before they arrive.

The Tasting:

When you start the tasting, feel free to explain why you’ve paired each chocolate with each wine, tell people to keep in mind the major pairing notes, or let people try the pairings and guess why they were paired. This part is entirely up to you!
Our only recommendation here is that your guests take a sip of their wine and then taste the paired chocolate. Flavor is only detected in liquid, which is why our mouths have saliva. You can’t taste dry flavors in a dry mouth, so a sip of wine before tasting the chocolate helps you taste more of the flavors in the chocolate.
You also may want to warn guests that trying wines with a chocolate that they’re not paired with can result in some combinations that make the wine and chocolate seem really metallic, sharp or otherwise unappetizing.

Share with Us:

You now have all of the information to get started on your home tasting! Let us know how it goes by tagging us on Instagram or Facebook. 

The Science Behind Chocolate and Coffee

The Science Behind Chocolate and Coffee

Chocolate + Coffee : Health Food?

  

Neither chocolate nor coffee is considered particularly healthy, but many recent studies support that both coffee and chocolate can actually be very beneficial to your health. Why has scientific opinion changed on these common treats?   

Drinking your coffee with milk and sugar turns coffee from a calorie-free antioxidant drink to a sugar-filled sweet treat. Because of this, the benefits of coffee have been obscured for years! In fact, many scientists now say that drinking black coffee is very good for you- and is perhaps the best way to get all the health benefits of coffee.   Black coffee (up to two cups a day) has antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic effects in the human body. Coffee drinking is even linked to lower mortality, obesity, and depression rates, while other promising research suggests that coffee consumption can even postpone the onset of neurodegenerative disorders like MS, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

 

 

Coffee is good for you, but chocolate is truly a superfood. Chocolate’s fatty acids modify LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and its many polyphenols increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol when consumed regularly, and the benefits increase as chocolate gets darker. Regular dark chocolate consumption also results in lowered blood pressure, leading to decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Pure cacao is also one of the strongest antioxidants in the world, ahead of acai and blueberries, and is high in omega-6 fatty acids, like those found in olive oil. Chocolate is also a huge mood booster, and regular dark chocolate eaters even have lower rates of depression than the general public!

Chocolate also gives many of the known benefits of coffee because it contains trace mounts of caffeine as well as larger amounts of theobromine, a byproduct of caffeine metabolism. So, when you break off a piece of your favorite dark chocolate, you’re getting all of the antioxidant and heart-protective power of chocolate along with some of the alertness and anti-carcinogenic powers of caffeine. 

 

  

At Chocovivo, we only serve dark chocolate with no added binding agents- which means our chocolate is purer and better for your body.  And, because we serve both chocolate and coffee, you can get the health benefits, mood boost, and increased alertness of coffee and chocolate all in one place!

 

Paleo Cacao Bite Recipe

Paleo Cacao Bite Recipe

 

Sometimes we are craving all the richness of a dense chocolate brownie or torte, but without the heaviness of full butter or gluten. Enter these little Paleo Cacao Bites!
We found this recipe in the May issue of Bon Appetit and couldn't resist! Now that is it Spring we are in search of lighter versions of our favorite treats. Let us know if you have a recipe using ChocoVivo chocolate you'd like us to feature! 

 

Ingredients

MAKES 18

  • 1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil, melted, cooled, plus more for pan
  • 3 tablespoons ChocoVivo cacao nibs
  • 5 ounces pitted Medjool dates (about 8)
  • ½ cup nut butter ( Cacao Butter for extra flavor)
  • 3 tablespoons ground chia seeds, ground flaxseed, and/or ground hemp seeds
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons almond flour or meal (we use hazelnut meal) 
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
  • Flaky sea salt

Preparation

Brush an 8½x4½" loaf pan with oil; line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on long sides. Pulse cacao nibs in a food processor to a fine powder; transfer to a bowl.

Place dates in a small heatproof bowl; pour boiling water over to submerge. Cover with plastic wrap; let sit until softened, 8–10 minutes.

Drain dates and transfer to food processor. Add nut butter and remaining 1 Tbsp. oil; process in long pulses until dates disintegrate and ingredients come together (mixture will be crumbly). Add seeds, kosher salt, and cinnamon; pulse to incorporate. Add almond flour, ground cacao nibs, and shredded coconut and pulse just to combine. Press into prepared pan in an even layer, compacting as firmly as possible (it will look slightly greasy, but oils will solidify once mixture is cold). Cover and chill until firm, about 1 hour.

Uncover and use sides of parchment paper to lift bar out of pan. Cut into a 6x3 grid to form squares; sprinkle with sea salt.

Do Ahead: Energy bites can be made 5 days ahead. Cover and chill, or freeze up to 2 weeks.


Recipe and Photo Courtesy of Bon Appetit May 2017