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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
Patchi: Lebanese Chocolate Frou Frou
If you wish to satisfy your sweet tooth with a little luxury, chocolate maker Patchi adds some aesthetic to our favourite guilty pleasure. This lebanese brand has been making chocolates for over 35 years, since founder Nizar Choucair opened his first store in Beirut in 1974. The franchise now has over 140 boutiques in over 35 countries, known far and wide for their gourmet luxury.
The brand’s Cairo location in Zamalek has a beautiful shop on the corner of Marashly street filled with their signature frilly chocolate arrangements in an assortment of colours, sizes, and with various keepsakes. Their selection ranged from 650LE to 1000LE. For baby showers, the Patchi baby arrangements are delightful, and definitely the shop’s decorative highlight with adorable teddy bears, butterflies, flowers, stars and animals souvenirs.
The store is known for its elaborately decorative wrapping and gift arrangements. Some incorporate crystal, silverware, porcelain, leather, velvet, and designer decorations, which can be personalised with engravings, specialized ribbons, or individual chocolate branding.
The chocolate is made without preservatives or artificial flavours. The menu has over 40 varieties of chocolate with ingredients such as coconut, pistachio, caramel, and hazelnut cream, in milk, dark, or white chocolate. They also sell chocolate bars (22LE), sugar-free options, dragée (candy-coated almonds), and some branches even carry chocolate spreads.
We handpicked some of their single chocolates by weight, which came to about 30LE for 1/4kg, (250LE per kg) as well as some dragée for 23LE per 1/4kg. The dragée was expectedly sweet and the almonds were well-roasted, but varied in freshness by colour.
The chocolates were creamy, rich and high quality. We asked for a variety but the flavours seemed a bit repetitive, being mostly nut- or nut-cream based. Toffee crunch and rich nut cream were some highlights, and there were only a few misses, such as the one with a charred coffee bean centre, and one with bittersweet orange rind. Dark chocolate lovers may also feel ignored, as they offer less options and are often not as dark as some would like.
Forbes Magazine has declared Patchi to be the No.1 luxury brand in the Middle East, and in 2008, Patchi teamed up with Harrods to produce the most expensive box of chocolates to date at £5000. Wrapped with leather and embroidered with refined silk, the 49 organic chocolates on suede leather were separated by gold and platinum linings and decorated with gold and a Swarovski crystal flower or handmade silk rose. They came with a personalised inscription and were offered as part of Harrod’s ‘High Life’ line.
Gift Carnival has a variety of wrappers, bows, ribbons and such to make gifts as festive as possible and prices range according to size and amount of supplies used. . While they had a lot of plain balloons, the occasion-specific ones were out of stock, although you can also grab some helium balloons (8LE each). Gift bags are also available in surplus, with prices ranging about 10LE. Celebratory cards (12LE) are offered in great variety, many of which were simple and appealing, without being too tacky or fussy.
Apart from gift accessories, you may also find the gift itself while roaming the shop. A definite highlight, and one of the nicest items we’ve seen around, were porcelain travel mugs (100LE) in a range of vibrant colours and patterns.
The shop also carries lightweight storage pieces - essentially a straw chest of drawers - at a very steep price of 790LE; single baskets are also available, most useful for storing small items and knickknacks. Interestingly, the Gift Carnival had quite the selection of scarves claiming to be Burberry and Gucci, at 100LE to 150LE.
Other household items include candles; a large one was discounted from 260LE to 130LE, while scented candles come at a much more reasonable price between 20LE and 40LE. Gift Carnival also has a range of kitchen utensils such as egg whiskers, cheese graters, cheese knives and vegetable peelers – all around 20LE each.
If you’re looking to decorate your Christmas tree, the shop also has a bunch of tree ornaments available. Though not very exciting or unique, a box of large round ornaments, with two per packet, costs 25LE.
The knickknacks are endless at Gift Carnival. Louis Vuitton inspired lighters, refrigerator magnets, decorative boxes, pillows, stuffed animals, there appears to be no restricted theme.
If you’re looking to wrap a gift or buy a helium balloon than Gift Carnival is likely a good stop.