[A re-post from September 2010]
Patchi are a company I've never heard of before but their history goes back as far as the 1970's. What's more, they're the only chocolate company I've ever reviewed from the Middle-East (although I have had some terrible stuff from Turkey), that being said, they're more like Swiss chocolates than anything else I've reviewed recently. What's more they don't use any artificial flavourings or preservatives; hence they should taste fresh with an experience uncluttered by chemicals and compromised by artificial ingredients.
The box got slightly damaged on transit from the Chocolate Unwrapped event, but it still looked pretty fantastic. Inside there was a regimented collection of chocolates all lined up like toy soldiers in a Christmas box, all willing and ready to be played with. For the purpose of the review. However, I had to restrain myself - which is so difficult with wrapped chocolates as you just want to rip off the covers and explore.
But if you did manage to undress them slowly then you would notice some nice detailing on them. Often this goes unseen, but I find it nice to see some creative detail on bon bons.
The first I tried was a praline type ganache that just didn't want me to talk a small bite. I tried but virtually all of it fell into my mouth and the rest crumbled on to the desk. Pralines to me have a slightly salty flavour by its very nature but didn't have the gritty texture I've come accustomed to with ganaches. It was a solid affair that I often welcome over the gooey ones, especially in the evening and wasn't as "heavy" as I thought it could be.
The next was most definitely more of a praline with the wafer-type feel that comes from the hazelnut crunch. Again this wasn't as powerful as some others; they've left room for your pallet to explore the flavours without being forced into a stereotype. These are most certainly pralines I could see myself trying again - which is a rarity.
And then it was a square of solid chocolate that seemed to have a fig flavour that offered a delicious alternative to the nutty others. There was, what appears to be an almond base, but it didn't manage to overcome the fairly robust fruity flavours - I'm not complaining however as I found it most agreeable.
I continued onto another with a good crisp series of crunches as you chew, and boy does you chew - it just doesn't want to disappear. The flavours are sweet but well-balanced and one of my most favourite as they do last a good while.
I'm not sure what the nut was in the last, it could be another almond, but it was surrounded by a much softer, smoother and nuttier ganache than the others. Another one that hit the mark. There was a great deal of nuttiness. I do like selection boxes to have a great deal of variety. But if you're buying a praline selection box then you know exactly what you're getting. You can find them now in Harrods and another 140 other locations in 28 countries - they must be doing something right! I was given these to try by Maria Chehab, their UK Country Manager, who I found incredibly engaging and passionate about the Patchi selection.
I've always got to compare, however, any ganaches, pralines, truffles and the such like with those from Paul A. Young and William Curley. Were these as good? Well it would be hard as I'm not the world's largest praline fan, but as pralines go I found them delicious, although not enough to make them be the first thing I think of the next day as I have done with William's patisseries and Paul's Port and Stilton Truffle. That's the issue with increasing production volumes, though, some of the je ne sais quoi gets lost. I'll try some of their other offerings in due course and see if any does compare and hopefully the next will induce some "sexy time" - at least in the emotional sense anyway.