Somewhere along the way, chocolate became the edible expression of love. The evolution from crushed bean with milk and sugar to romance in a bite is a curious one… not that I’m complaining. Mildly chocolate-obsessed, I take part in Cupid’s season by indulging–myself and others–in this luscious confection. Far from being a humdrum gift, chocolates are the perfect little nuggets for instant joy. Doha’s top purveyors of this joy include:
Lagoona Mall – 4493 6376 (10a-10p, Fridays 2p-10p)
A paradise for exotic combinations. Look out for ‘tsuki’ with salted corn and orange or ‘ispahan’ with raspberry ganache, rose and litchi. The house special is the passion fruit milk chocolate ‘mogador’ available in a bonbon, macaron or hybrid form — all packed in elegant or playful cat-themed boxes.
L’Atelier du Chocolat
The Gate Mall – 4407 7121 (10a-10p, Fridays closed between 11:30a-12:30p)
Can’t decide between a bouquet of flowers or chocolate? How about the ultimate composite: a chocolate bouquet. There’s no need to add water to these blooms of giant chocolate barks made fresh on-site using French ingredients shipped from the company’s Bayonne headquarters.
Maya La Chocolaterie
Villagio Mall – 4417 8132 (Sat-Thurs 9a-10p, Fri 1p-10p)
Landmark Mall – 4486 4767 (Sat-Thurs 9a-11p, Fri 1p-11p)
While diners often sip hot cocoa and dip into fondue at this popular café from Bahrain, Maya is also big into the retail scene. The praline selection includes sugar-free options and a 1001 Nights collection featuring flavours such as ‘sesame seeds and tahina’ as well as ‘dates and cardamom’.
Jeff de Bruges
Lagoona Mall – 4432 9504 (10a-10p, Fridays 2p-10p)
You can’t miss the signature gianduja cornets. They resemble mini ice cream cones filled with swirls of piped chocolate and come in a nutty, crispy or dark chocolate variety. They come prepacked or mix them by weight with other into ballotin boxes of varying sizes to suit your budget.
City Center Mall – 4493 4817 (10a-10p)
Landmark Mall – 4487 7136 (10a-10p)
Villagio – 4450 7862 (10a-10p)
The Mall – 4455 1862 (10a-10p)
C-Ring Road Al Sadd – 4435 1631 (9a-10p, Fridays 2p-10p)
Always known to make a statement, Patchi turns heads with its packaging. It is after all behind the Swarovski-studded chocolates of Harrods fame for $10,000 a box. But us humbler mortals can still enjoy their individual pieces of intricately wrapped chocolates sold in elaborate arrangements.
W Hotel – 4453 5383 (8a-11p)
This leading Swiss chocolatier needs little introduction. Although the selection available at the Doha boutique is a fraction of the full Teuscher line, there are still a few dozen exciting varieties including fruit-themed delights: dark orange slice, lemon peel and Florentines to name a few.
Royal Plaza – 4435 5588 (10a-10p)
Salwa Road – 4432 4888 (7a-11p)
The glamour of Paris oozes from this shop/café decked out in fuchsia and black. Chic gift boxes and collector tins (including the ever-popular heart shapes) hold luxury melt-in-the-mouth treats. The platters of individually wrapped chocolates are particularly impressive, but beware their price tags.
Qatar’s homegrown chocolatier gets credit for creating a brand that’s stylish and entirely scrumptious. The bonbons and pralines feature flavours ranging from lavender to truffle cream. They can be packed into different sized boxes, including a chest of drawers that make the chocolates feel like treasures.
** A version of this article appeared in Time Out Doha – February 2014 **