Up until a few months ago, I’d never heard of Patchi. Then, within the space of a few days, Simon found their store in Doha, Qatar, and I found them at the Chocolate Unwrapped show in London. So here are our individual experiences of the selection of Patchi chocolates we tried on different sides of the planet…
On this, my second visit to Doha, I was staying in another part of town, close to the City Centre Shopping Complex (Doha is fast becoming a chain of shopping centres linked by roads) and I couldn’t help but notice a new chocolate shop there, especially as I had to walk past it every time I went to buy groceries.
Naturally I had to investigate, so business card in hand I popped in one afternoon and made a few purchases. Half a dozen individual chocolates from their range, and a couple of bars.
My selections included ‘Désir’ (a date stuffed with an almond and swathed in dark chocolate and typically Arabian), Casablanca (a milk chocolate shell with gianduja, hazelnut and orange peel) and Emotion (dark chocolate filled with a pistachio croquant).
As you can see from the photos, these chocolates are very well presented. The foils are heavy and expensive looking and the chocolates themselves are well made, very much like the Chopin chocolates I found last time I was in Doha.
The problem comes with the tasting, where it soon becomes apparent that this is a clear case of style over substance. The fillings are quite palatable but the chocolate (and in particular the dark chocolate is rather disappointing). I actually found myself preferring the milk chocolates (not like me at all) as the dark chocolate was greasy on the palate and fairly tasteless.
The only things I could recommend would be the pistachio croquant filling in ‘Emotion’ (but not the chocolate) and the mixture of flavours in ‘Casablanca’ and ‘Perfetto’ (hazelnut, raisin and orange peel).
Over to you, Dom.
The shop pictures Simon sent tied in perfectly with what I saw at the Patchi stand at Chocolate Unwrapped. An elegant and chic Middle Eastern shopping experience, with the emphasis on style.
Patchi started in Lebanon 25 years ago, and now have shops all over the world, including a concession in Harrod’s (which, looking at the ugly price label on the box, is where these came from). According to their parent company’s web site, they’ve since branched out into sliverwear, artificial flowers and printing. An odd mix, but I can see how they got there.
Back to the chocolates. Once you get past the outer packaging, you’re presented with some individual chocolates, wrapped in thick paper. They look nice, but not spectacular. The chocolate bar I was given turns out to be a very simple milk chocolate, although there’s no labels on the wrapper or the box to describe the contents. I guess they’re going for the pre-wrapped gift market.
Unwrap the chocolates, and that feeling of “Ok, but not spectacular” continues. The chocolates look well made, but they also look a little bit like something you might find in a box of Thorntons Continental. Or jar of Quality Street.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what they taste like too. They’re very bland and very ordinary. Turns out all that fancy packaging just hides some run of the mill mass produced chocolates.
The fillings are hard, rather than soft and smooth, and don’t have a lot of flavour. The milk chocolate is just that bit too sweet and creamy, and the dark chocolate isn’t isn’t that dark and has very little flavour. Nothing tastes particularly bad, but this certainly isn’t fine chocolate.
So when it comes down to it, the main problem here is the price. £8.50 for eight small, cheap chocolates is way, way over the top. £1.50 would be more acceptable, but even then it would be pushing it.
I heard a rumour that Patchi are planning on opening a shop here in London, but given the buoyant state of the London chocolate scene and the savvy consumers that shop there, I doubt they’ll have much success outside the tourist trap of Harrod’s.