Is Tifa the ideal chocolate shop? Probably. But we won’t say that until we’ve tried all of them.
Suffice it to say that Tifa Chocolate has become the unofficial meeting place of The Chocolate Tourist production team. With easy access from the 101, little else nearby to gum up the flow of traffic, and plenty of chairs and tables (not to mention an easygoing ambiance that doesn’t seem to mind if we hog a corner table for three hours), Tifa is a great place to meet old friends and make new ones.
Generous with their time and samples, Tifa could almost be in the chocolate business just for the fun of it. The person ahead of me in line tried no less than five gelato flavors before settling on one. I asked which one she chose, and she responded with, “I had to have the chocolate.”
Girl, you know it.
I have yet to taste this magnificent gelato, but that’s only because there are SO many other things!
The first time Leanne and I visited Tifa, she ordered gelato and raved about it. It comes with a paper-light wafer that’s kind of like a sliver of ice cream cone, but much more delicate. And not as sweet.
I’ve never tried anything like it – it serves as a pleasant palate cleanser in between rich and delicious bites of whatever you’re biting.
I ordered drinking chocolate – a room temperature dense chocolate that can be ordered in three different shades (dark, milk, or white) and tinted with any of about sixty-seven flavors. OK not that many, but still so many more than I am comfortable choosing from.
Dazzled by the array of exotic possibilities, I decided to go simple for a change and requested dark chocolate with honey. With lavender, earl grey, cinnamon and other such stimulating options still waiting to be tried, I will have to work my way through the dizzying variety of possible combinations. If next you see me I’m three hundred pounds, you’ll know what happened.
Pumping hip tunes and filled to bursting with hard-to-find chocolate bars from around the world, Tifa offers so much to people of all kinds – whether you’re just looking for a quick coffee or a long chat over waffle cones.
And then… I saw the chocolate case.
Holy moly. How many reasons do I need to move in here?
I really wish I had bought one of the Strawberry & Cabernet things of beauty. Twenty-twenty hindsight… next time I will not be so foolish.
When proprietor Shawn Orr noticed us deliberating over the packaged chocolate bars, he brought out a few samples to try and we got to chat for a moment. Tifa hosts events from time to time (connect with their Facebook page for details) such as chocolate tastings and music showcases.
Tifa creations are made from Tanzanian chocolate – which is pretty forward-thinking in itself, working with single-origin chocolate (typically chocolatiers use a blend of beans from different geographical locations). But Shawn mentioned he’s developing a bean-to-bar operation that will allow him to fine tune the Tifa flavor profile even more.
By my count, that now makes for three bean-to-bar chocolate makers in the LA area. I love it.
So what does it taste like?
The dark truffles are like shooter marbles – bigger than you would think, and destined to be eaten in several bites, scattering cocoa powder to the wind. There is no dignified way to eat these. One must release one’s inhibitions and simply go where the chocolate takes you.
It’s a good trip.
The truffles are fudgey balls of rich, dark chocolate that don’t immediately fall apart in your mouth. Giving you a chance to savor each bite of the barely sweetened chocolate lining your lips and teeth (and possibly chin). A dark chocolate lover’s dream.
In keeping with our liquor-infused chocolate dalliances of late, I picked up a Whiskey & Dark Chocolate. So creamy and ganache-y, the whiskey flavor is very subtle. But the smooth chocolate sweetness does have a hint of bite. Just enough to give it an edge.
Now I may have previously mentioned my running theory that chocolate tastes good with everything. So naturally whenever I encounter a flavor pairing that allows me to test the theory, it’s like a personal challenge.
I’m happy to say that after tasting the following combinations, the theory stands.
The Basil White Chocolate Ganache covered in dark chocolate? Unbelievable. It tastes VERY much basil. It tastes VERY much like chocolate. Two things I have never tasted and thought, “You know what would be good with this?”
But it rocks. I can’t explain it – it shouldn’t work, and it totally does.
Similarly, the Red Pepper chocolates are deceptively simple chocolate ganache in a chocolate shell – there are no bits of pepper to make you think this will taste like anything other than chocolate. But the flavor and heat of peppers is unmistakable. This makes me want to serve red pepper slices at my next fondue experiment.
Try it – dip red peppers in melted chocolate and see what you think. Tifa’s got it down.
Lastly, the dark chocolate salted caramel – I don’t normally go for caramels, but this one is soft and toothsome without being too tough or sweet. I really liked it.
So whether you are a local with a sweet tooth or out to prove something about what can and can’t be put in chocolate, we invite you to step through Tifa’s doors and draw your own conclusions.
Go to Tifa. Pull up a chair, spend a few hours, try a few things. Tell them we sent you.