[Mom, and the two hundred Indian aunties out there who I know, and don't know - but who are convinced that they've rocked me to sleep when I was barely three months old - all of whom are fervently praying for my wedding to happen, please note that NO such wedding is currently in the works. A girl's gotta engage in a bit of strategic pre, pre-planning these days, and that's all I'm doing here.]
ANYWAY, getting back to what I saw that inspired me to rethink my not-happening wedding, it was an 'edible' segment of the Abu Dhabi bridal show, hosted exclusively by ChoCo'a. ChoCo'a is a local chocolaterie ruled by a husband-wife team whose passion for chocolate and confectionery transforms a simple plate of dessert into hedonistic art. They've managed to rope in some ridiculously talented French chefs into their empire, and preside over oodles and oodles of exquisite Belgian chocolate, desserts and tantalizing cakes. I had first heard of their name when I sampled a slice of one of their elaborate two tier cakes for a baby shower...massive chocolate base encased in blue fondant, with a pink enrobed vanilla pedestal holding two laced baby booties. It was beautiful, I thought. And probably tasted of sugary plastic inside. But that first bite, that first bite spanked me and my misconceptions like no other cake in Dubai has ever done. Not too dense, nor so airy that every other chew gets wasted on a gigantic annoying air space that’s lodged between the cakey crumbs, not too sweet, not too over flavored, nor too fancy or distracting. These were just perfectly textured, honest-to-goodness vanilla and chocolate cakes that are the only cakes that I can remember having really touched my cake-crazed soul since I moved back home to Dubai. So, when I heard that Choco'a was designing an edible collection for the Bridal Show, I became possessed with the thought of butting myself in like the pesky paparazzi and getting my chocolate scoop firsthand.
And so there I was backstage with a team of enormously friendly ChoCo'a’ers and their agents – the founders Dina and Assem Hamzeh, chefs Raymonda Saadeh and Frederic Legras, their Production Manager Reshmi Sashidhar, ChoCo'a's Business Development Manager and smiling photographer Reem Bsat, Divine stylist and founder Kelly Lundberg...and the lady who I hold personally grateful for getting me the rights to snoop around, Hala Sarieddine, Weber Shandwick's PR account manager for ChoCo'a, whose bubbling energy spilled out even over the phone as she was arranging for me to join the team. To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised, even shocked...not only were they welcoming me in backstage right in those jittery minutes before the show, but they were doling out dark chocolate Belgian coins, giving me detailed descriptions of the dresses and accessories, and letting me stick my nosey camera into the dresses and models alike, snapping away as though my finger had been fused with my camera's shutter button.
On a separate, but very critical note, I personally witnessed the models at the show eat chocolate. Reread that every-lady-who-goes-on-a-guilt-trip-after-having-had-her-chocolate-fix, I SAW MODELS EATING CHOCOLATE. It warmed my heart to see them dig into ChoCo'a’s snack box of delectable dark chocolate coins back stage, and even come back for seconds and thirds. Skinny Words of Wisdom - NEVER shalt thou feel guilty about being enslaved to chocolate again.
So using ChoCo'a’s designs at the Bridal Show, as well as what I’ve seen in their shop in Barsha, let me start laying out the pre-pre-plan for My Big Fat Chocolate Wedding,* as simply summarized on the nearest paper napkin that could bear the fruits of my inspiration when the idea hit me.
As I transform my excitable chickenshi scrawlings into the chocolate dream that this could be, I am going to assume my most hypnotically enchanting writer's voice, almost Enigma like, to really immerse you in the chocolate experience I have laid out.
[For all those of my friends who really know me and are cackling right now at my attempt to be magically romantic, this is not a joke people, WORK WITH ME HERE.]
[And for those who are sticklers of wedding minutiae, please note that I am not describing the actual wedding ceremony - this is a plan for the wedding reception, which leaves more room to be creative and non-traditional, and where I can whimsically insert chocolate any which way I like without offending any religious sensibilities. AS IF chocolate could ever offend.]
*all plans are subject to the mommy veto, which inevitably gets exercised when least convenient for me.
(PS. In case you see numbers in square parentheses, those map to my very systematic napkin plan)
From the corner of your eye, you catch a glimpse of the wedding cake . You turn around to take in the full four tiers, simple but elegant, with tender maroon sugar rosettes inching their way round the concentric layers. You, and you alone know, that beneath that innocent white fondant lay layers of dreamy vanilla and chocolate cake, crafted with the sort of texture and teasing sweetness that makes you want to claw savagely at it until you've gobbled every last crumb dream of mermaids and unicorns.
***TO BE CONTINUED***
Sorry folks, but life usually happens in episodes [other than the fact that you and I both do need to tear ourselves away from the computer and attend to the non-chocolate banalties of life]. So as cliched as this sounds, stay tuned for the rest of the plan.
(Disclaimer: Choco’a has neither paid me or given me free gifts to write this post, unless you count those delectable Belgian chocolate discs they were handing out to everyone backstage. I did have to agree to timing my post after their PR release, and while I was not open to their editing any of my opinions, I did give them the option of asking me to put a hold on my post if they really felt like the content would be detrimental to their business. I was confident enough about the quality of their work to know that this post could not have been anything but positive, and hence gave them that rare editorial veto.)
Al Barsha, Behind Mall of the Emirates
Tel: +971 4 340 9092
They also have a store in Abu Dhabi, check out their website for details on location