UAE

Marie Antoinette’s Paris in Dubai

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It all began with, “Let’s catch up over hot chocolate”.

My friend and I had reconnected on Facebook recently and we’d realized that catching up via texts or phone calls did not do any justice to the gap of seven years. There were far too many experiences and memories to be shared and a regular cuppa accompanied by sandwiches just wasn’t good enough for us. After having established that we’re both not only equipped with a sweet tooth but also wanted to visit a chocolate boutique that would make our reunion a memorable one, the choice was quite obvious- Debauve and Gallais.

Located strategically by Gate 2 at the Dubai International Financial Center,  this boutique has been crafted (quite skilfully) to transport you back to the rococo woven French era. Every square inch of the chocolate boutique has a story to share provided you are not listening but watching carefully.

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun’s portrait of Marie Antoinette stands out as one enters the boutique, with a radiating display of everything cocoa. No element can be seen in isolation as the furniture and the decor seem to blend with the intricate ornamentation.

You can’t help but ask yourself, “You sure this isn’t the French museum?”

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The roots of Debauve & Gallais go all the way back to the 18th Century when Sulpice Debauve , who was the chemist appointed by Louis XVI of France, concocted a way of combining cocoa, cane sugar and Marie Antoinette’s least favourite ingredient – her medicine. Through various trial-and-error tests using different percentages of Brazilian cocoa, the Queen was extremely content with Debauve’s renowned creation – the pistolewhich was designed to help ease the Queen’s medicine ingesting ritual.The chemist turned chocolatier later took his nephew Jean-Baptiste Auguste Gallais on board after the chocolate blends and compositions started gaining popularity.
Though the role of the chemist isn’t prominent in this boutique any more, the fact that these chocolates were hand crafted to meet tailor made delectable choices spells the absence of mass production, which, in a way is a good thing in my opinion.

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The signature Chocolat Chaud de Marie Antoinette or hot chocolate that is named after the queen is a must have. Accompany a dainty cup of this with some bonbons, or the popular coin shaped pistoles (Les Pistoles De Marie Antoinette)  or even my personal favorite, the forestiere (coated in ground pistachio) and you just might experience a fourth dimension through the sense of taste.

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There are various tea blends to choose from and each one is unique. I had opted for a cup of Rami tea which is a combination of flakes of ivory chocolate and China white tea. The aftertaste is quite refreshing and it’s not too sweet either.

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Other fusions to choose from would be Miss Shanghai with hints of cornflower petals, orange extracts and raspberries or if you’re looking for a simple green tea, then Fukujyu might be your best bet (I’d rehearse pronouncing the name in my head before actually saying it out loud if I were you).

The assorted chocolates on display leave you spoiled for choices. It’s hard to pick from a collection of dragées, aiguillettes (Candied orange, lemon or ginger extracts), fancy nougats, croquamandes, truffles and so much more.  From shell to ganache, the transition of flavours appear to share a healthy marriage.
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Printed chocolates stand out from the other refined ones thanks to the silk screen printing process. It’s even more pronounced on tempered chocolates.

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When I’d mentioned that every inch of Debauve and Gallais is covered in exorbitant French history, I wasn’t kidding. The ceiling art too has a lot to offer but don’t look up while you’re munching on some candy lest you’ll choke.

This high end chocolate boutique does cater to customized requests and with the festive season round the corner, there are a few new arrivals due this week.

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The verdict

Ambiance and decor: Excellent
Service: Excellent
Wait time: Good
Menu presentation and design: Average
Food: Excellent
Value for money: Excellent (If it’s gourmet that you’re looking for)
Overall dining experience: Excellent

Comestible regards,
Judy

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