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This is haute-couture chocolate |

Food and Leisure

This is haute-couture chocolate

SHOPSIFTED - Ana G. Kalaw -

Chocolate’s biggest fans are women — you see that worldwide,” says Oussama Choucair, vice president of Lebanese chocolate brand Patchi, who was in Manila for a brief visit last week. “Chocolates are a woman’s best friend.”

I would be the last woman to dispute this statement. Chocolate is my caffeine kick (I can eat it first thing in the morning), the only addiction I would admit to having (I can go on a chocolate diet and not think I am suffering), the one thing that I will never give up (thank God for sugar-free varieties).

Chocolate makes me so happy that I can even tolerate Valentine’s Day just for the sheer proliferation of the treat during the occasion, particularly in the Philippines, where Valentine’s Day shares nearly the same popularity and promotes nearly the same level of excitement as Christmas. I may not necessarily celebrate Valentine’s but the people around me do, and they are more than willing to pass around the boxes of chocolates that come with Herculean bouquets of beribboned blossoms given to them by suitors, clients or significant others.

“We treat chocolate like jewelry,” says Patchi vice president Oussama Choucair (right). “This is haute-couture chocolate.” With Suyen Corp.’s Bryan Lim.

Two weeks before V-Day, I am telling Mr. Choucair about the local obsession with everything leading up to this day for lovers and he professes amazement at this phenomenon. He tells me that Patchi, distributed locally by the Bench group, definitely has something cooked up for the occasion but that we would have to go to the store to see for ourselves what exactly. But he does hint that, if you give a box of Patchi pralines for Valentine’s, the bouquet of flowers that usually accompanies the gift might just be unnecessary.

So I do what he suggests and check out their outlet on Bonifacio High Street. Shelves present elegant boxes bearing the label’s twisted symbol, slim chocolate bars and other chocolate treats. But center-store is already set up for the holiday of hearts, displaying red foil-wrapped chocolate in the most elaborate settings.

“We use crystals and silk material in our packaging,” says Choucair. “This is very unique in the world of chocolate. You don’t find chocolate pieces decorated so luxuriously.” For Valentine’s Day, Patchi sets up pralines, some heart-shaped, in glass bowls or silver dishes liberally decorated with silk roses, heart charms, and more red ribbons — and these are the simplest of the gift sets. The more elaborate packages encase chocolates in soft leather boxes. You can even buy tiny bonbons stuffed into a painted ceramic teapot. What girl would want flowers when she can get her chocolate with a bright, little pot? This is chocolate packaged like you’ve never seen before. “We treat chocolate like jewelry,” Choucair intones. “This is haute-couture chocolate.”

Patchi is located at Bonifacio High Street, Bonifacio Global City, and at Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center, Makati.

The dedication Patchi puts into their packaging follows the commitment they put into creating their chocolate. Patchi is a luxurious chocolate maker (apparently the best-selling one at Harrods in London), not necessarily just for their elaborate packaging but for the way they actually make their product; the brand still keeps the old tradition of chocolate making. Choucair leans over, as if imparting a restricted piece of information: “The secret to good chocolate, the secret to Patchi’s chocolates, lies in the amount of raw ingredient you put. You have to be very, very generous. In the traditional way of making chocolate, a big amount, maybe about 80 percent, would be the raw ingredient — cocoa mass or cocoa butter — and the rest would be the filling — cream, nuts — and the other ingredients.”

With Patchi get the kind of chocolate that can be good for your health, the kind of chocolate that stimulates and releases those feel-good endorphins — on Valentine’s Day and beyond.

With Patchi, you’re assured that you’re not just getting cream, sugar and nuts wrapped in a thin chocolate shell, but real, rich smooth chocolate with just the right amount of hazelnut or milk or ganache; chocolate that’s not overloaded with sugar. With Patchi, you get the kind of chocolate that can be good for your health, the kind of chocolate that stimulates and releases those feel-good endorphins that make those who eat it, not just women, happy — on Valentine’s Day and beyond.

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Patchi is located at Bonifacio High Street, Bonifacio Global City, and at Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center, Makati.

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