Sweet Life

17 Apr 2014
POSTED BY Y Magazine

Easter is a time of new beginnings, Spring awakenings aad, of course, yummy chocolate, says Penny Fray



Sugar is the hot new health topic. Everyone who is anyone is discussing it. But you’d think it was arsenic by the horror it now seems to incite.

Linked with everything from heart disease and diabetes to obesity and ageing, the white stuff is rapidly being eliminated from the diets of Oman’s hip, young things.

Of course, none of this is new. Nutritionists have been aware of the dangers of refined sugars for years. But with Easter just around the corner, isn’t it time we chilled out about chocolate?

Whatever your religion, or even lack of it, this weekend is a good excuse to celebrate spring with vats of chocolate, Simnel cake and an Easter egg hunt. 

Here’s my guide to having a really good Friday…

BUY:POSH EGGS

A Cadbury Creme Egg may taste amazing but when it comes to choosing our chocolate, the experts say that it’s more than a numbers game. It’s not just about the percentage of cocoa, it’s about the quality and provenance of the bean. When you eventually get it out of its ultra luxe wrapper and into your mouth, you’ll want it to linger on your tastebuds for as long as possible, savouring the sweetness and stopping you craving more. While you can buy Thorntons and Lindt creations from Al Fair, it’s worth going online for the crème de la crème of chocolate and eggs almost too pretty to eat. Try Hotel Chocolat or Rococo. Alternatively, Holland & Barrett’s Booja-Booja egg is ethically handmade and decorated by a community in Kashmir, India. What’s more, the chocolates are organic, as well as dairy and gluten free. If you have something special in mind, why not make your own? 

You’ll find all the materials you need at Lakeland in Muscat City Centre. 

ENTERTAIN: THE HUNT

No, we’re not talking about shotguns and the slaughter of innocent animals here but rather the more pleasant pursuit of an Easter Egg hunt. Tally-ho as each contestant is given a small bucket to collect the hidden booty of foil-covered chocolates. Now that’s what I call fun. 

BAKE:SIMNEL CAKE 

Though now almost exclusively associated with Easter, Simnel cake was once part of Mothering Sunday. It’s basically a lighter version of Christmas cake with the marzipan incorporated into the creation rather than covering it. 

VISIT: THE CHOCOLATE ROOM  

The smell of chocolate hits you as soon as you walk through the door of this newly opened boutique café in Muscat. Paying homage to all things cocoa, if offers everything from fondues and fancy cakes to artisan eggs and a mouthwatering array of chocolate milkshakes. It’s the ideal spot to catch up with a friend over a cup of genuinely rich and thick Italian hot chocolate. Did I mention there are over 20 flavours to choose from? Yummy. 

CHOCCY FACTS

  • Switzerland produces about 150,000 tons of chocolate a year and the Swiss are the greatest choc eaters in the world (around 12kg per capita).
  • According to the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), the major world producers of cocoa are Africa (73 per cent), Asia and Oceania (14 per cent) and the Americas (13 per cent).
  • Among the largest cocoa producing countries are Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Indonesia, Ecuador, Cameroon, Nigeria and Brazil.
  • Dark chocolate is healthier than the milk variety if it contains a high percentage of cocoa solids – 70 per cent is good.
  • In 2012, Dubai launched the Middle East’s most expensive box of chocolates (Le Grand Louis XVI for RO346).
  • The world’s most expensive chocolate is Chocopologie Chocolate Truffle (also known as La Madeline au Truffle) by Knipschildt Chocolatier, at RO1,000. It is made of 70 per cent Valrhona dark chocolate with vanilla, heavy cream, sugar and truffle oil. Each one is made to order.


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