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Irvine Blog - Posts from Local Experts

Posts for April 2015

ChocXO- It's Like a Craft Brewery Tour for Chocolate Lovers!

Posted by: Sharlene Earnshaw
Posted on: Friday, Apr 24, 2015

This week it was my job to visit a chocolate factory and sample high end, small batch chocolates. I know, I know. My life is incredibly hard but I must take on these difficult jobs so I can bring the story to you. ChocXO is an Irvine-based "bean to bar" chocolate factory which transforms  the simple cocoa bean into artisanal chocolate masterpieces and they want to show you exactly how it is done.

The ChocXO Factory is located on the corner of Irvine Center Drive and Tesla, just down the street from the Irvine Spectrum shopping center. Their inviting storefront features all sorts of high-quality bars, delectable truffles, and a variety of chocolate gifts created by cocoa beans originating from small family farms in Central and South America. ChocXo is the brainchild of Richard Flay, a man with over 30 years experience in the chocolate distribution business and a dream of creating chocolates as fine as those found in Europe right here in the USA.  He knew that in order to do this he would need high quality beans along with superior equipment and know how. His dream came to fruition in late 2013 and ChocXO has quickly put itself on the chocolatier map. Before you start filling up your truffle box with Maple Whiskey, Creme Brulee, Coconut Ginger Lime, Vanilla Chai, Grand Marnier, Chocolate Aztec, and Spicy Peanut Butter & Jelly chocolates, take a tour and discover exactly how these tasty bites of heaven came to be.


The scientific name for the cacao tree is Theobroma cacao which translates to mean "food of the gods".  Chocolate lovers around the world are in complete agreement with this description.  And while most of us have eaten our body weight in chocolate over the years, we really have no clue about how a pod on a tree is transformed into the treat of our dreams. ChocXO walks customers through the process, offering plenty of history, science, and opportunities for sampling along the way. The first sample I tried on my tour was a bit of the cacao fruit which surrounds the bean. The white pulp was tart and tropical tasting. It is used in drinks in Brazil but us American chocolate fiends prefer that they keep the fruit on the bean because it gives critical flavor to the beans during the fermentation process.  Factory tour-takers will also sample cocoa nibs, cocoa liquor (which is neither alcoholic nor sweet),  and chocolate flake before reaching the liquid chocolate sampling station which dispenses the final product with a push of a button into little tasting cups. If there were only a way to get a single-origin, 70% Yaguachi Ecuadorian dark chocolate dispenser into my own home....


In addition to the samples throughout the tour (and three choices from the chocolate case up front), visitors will also enjoy the opportunity to set foot on the chocolate factory tour and see sophisticated machines process chocolate  through its various stages of development.  Special events for private parties of 10 or more can be booked for just $25 per person and involved an opportunity to make your very own chocolate bark to take home!

Good to know: General tours can be booked in advance on the ChocXO website. Cost is $20 per adult and $10 per child under $10. ChocXO has cafes in neighboring Lake Forest and Costa Mesa which serve up sight-roasted coffee in addition to their chocolate treats. Just imagine a mocha made with ChocXO chocolate! ChocXO chocolates can also be found inside the marketplace at Hotel Irvine

Filed In: Events

Hotel Irvine Hosts Backyard Block Party

Posted by: Ellen Bell
Posted on: Wednesday, Apr 08, 2015

What better way to spend a warm, laid-back Sunday afternoon than hanging out with neighbors right in your own backyard?

On Sunday, April 26th, Hotel Irvine is inviting you over to their house.

Irvine's newest hotel is hosting the first annual Backyard Block Party as a way to welcome the community. From 3-6pm, Irvine families can soak up the sun on the 8,000 square foot lawn, part of Hotel Irvine's newly-refreshed outdoor event space, and enjoy some of the best food and entertainment the city has to offer. 

Hotel Irvine's EATS Kitchen & Bar and Red Bar and Lounge will be teaming up with some of Irvine's top restaurants like Shirley Chung's Twenty Eight and STAX Cookie Bar. You can sip on local craft beers and wines while listening to some of Irvine's favorite local bands like The Brevet, Yellow Red Sparks and Armors. 


And no backyard bash is complete without a friendly game of lawn bowling, or cornhole or ping pong.

But the best part of this hometown celebration is the fact that all proceeds from the event will be donated to the Irvine Public School Foundation.  

Admission includes:

  • Access to all culinary vendors, including tastings
  • Two drink tickets for beer or wine (cash bar available )
  • Complimentary Self Parking
  • Access to all activities and games.

Tickets are $40 for adults and $10 for children/students (6-20)

General admission tickets are still available. Click on the link here to order. Advanced ticket purchase required. Proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to Irvine Public Schools Foundation benefiting neighborhood schools.


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