I was in the Cape Town City Centre Hotel, to be renamed the Hilton City Center Hotel at the end of April but which is already branded as such, last week to find out more about the Hilton Hotel-to-be in what was previously the Coral International, and found the surprise chocolate heaven Patchi chocolate shop inside the hotel. (The Patch bill states its address as the Hilton City Center Hotel already).
I felt as if I had arrived in a shop in another country, so beautiful and luxurious was the interior design of the shop, and initially one does not see the chocolates. But the wrapped chocolates are creatively displayed in numerous cases, glass bowls and other containers, to entice one to leave not only with the chocolate but also with a gorgeous gift holder too.
I spoke to the delightful Noli, but she was very nervous about me taking photographs, and pointed out the notices to this effect inside the shop – odd that one would not want customers to help spread the word, given that the shop had no other customers. She told me that the chocolates are made in Lebanon, and there are 140 Patchi ‘Boutiques’ in 38 countries around the world, the website says. Noli seemed surprised that I had not heard of the brand name before. The Patchi shop in the hotel is the first in South Africa, and I was left with the impression that there will be more local store openings in future.
The company was founded in 1974 by Nizar Choucair. Its vision statement is “Beside the pleasure of savouring, Patchi chocolate opens up an entire world of feelings and festivities, which takes you beyond reality”. Its unique concept is described as: “At Patchi, chocolate gained the distinctive stamp of nobility by being beautifully presented”. The website says that the company “transforms chocolates into decorated gifts that can be offered anytime and anyplace, whether placed in crystal, porcelain or silver”.
Each chocolate is individually wrapped in gold or silver paper, adding class to the already quality chocolates. None of the chocolates contain alcohol, Noli told me proactively. There are two product ranges, consisting of about twenty chocolates each, and the Classic range is charged at an expensive sounding R489 per kg and the Deluxe at R 564. It sounded worse than it was, and four chocolates cost R 47, some of them larger than one would find in local chocolate shops, and Noli added an extra one that she wanted me to try (Marquise). The Deluxe range has better quality fillings, and tend to be larger, Noli said. Many of the chocolates contain gianduja, which is a hazelnut creme, she explained.
The shop is airconditioned as well as humidified, and the chocolates are neatly stored in drawers, rather than being visible inside the counter. One has to choose one’s chocolates from two product lists that are on the counter, with a short description of each. Each of them have a catchy name. The five I left with were :
Parfait – dark chocolate filled with caramel truffle (from Deluxe range)
Quatro – milk chocolate filled with gianduja, praline and almond croquant (Deluxe)
Arabica – milk chocolate filled with four roasted beans (Classic)
Pause Café – milk chocolate filled with coffee cream (Classic)
Marquise – dark chocolate filled with gianduja, crisped rice, almond and hazelnut pieces (Classic)
Excellent quality gift items can be bought – a sterling silver tray in the window caught my eye, and inside a lot of beautiful Morano glass items are displayed, as are those made by IVV, also from Italy (the international Patchi brochure shows Rosenthal, Sèvres, L.S.A., lladro and Kosta Boda gift items too, but they are not for sale in the Cape Town branch). I asked for more information about Patchi, and Noli gave me a luxury brochure with their Christmas Collection. It shows that one can have corporate chocolates made up with one’s branding, and that one can buy gift vouchers. There is a Patchi’s Kids Collection too.
Patchi Cape Town, Hilton (to-be) City Centre Hotel, corner Wale and Buitengracht Streets, Cape Town. Tel (021) 481-3786. www.patchi.com
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage