LAHORE: Bite sized ganache frosted cupcakes and chocolate éclairs, round cocoa dusted truffles, chocolate coated almond biscotti, chocolate chip cinnamon rolls, mousse cups, chocolate panacotta and crepes to wash down with a hot or cold chocolate drink. That and a lot more was at the chocolate buffet on offer during the opening of Lal’s flagship shop in the city.
A small yet elegant affair, the event started at 6 pm, with people trickling in until 10 pm. The decoration, done by JnS events, was “all about chocolate,” as Jalal, one of the founders of JnS said.
A make-shift wooden structure draped with tobacco-coloured velvet, complimented with butter sofas and gold lamps with crystal shades, the lounge arrangement was completed with a huge glass table in the centre filled with 15 chocolate items. The chocolate fountain tucked on one corner table had wafer rolls lying next to it, tempting one to indulge every now and then. Water was aplenty because as Jalal said, “Chocolate makes you thirsty.”
The visitors whose numbers came to about 250 included the US Cultural Officer Carmela Conroy and several models including Noore, Fia and Sophiya.
Ayesha, one of the people in attendance said, “There’s so much chocolate! I do not know whether to eat it or just look at it. I watch my calories but then again, chocolate’s my guilty pleasure. So maybe I should indulge myself since it’s like a dream come true, this chocolate buffet.”The owners of Lal’s had counted on just that – people like Ayehsa letting go of themselves for just one night – while arranging the event. Madiha Sultan Khwaja and her mother, Lal Majid, are the brains behind this label. When asked why Lal’s had opened two shops in Lahore and just one in Karachi (from where they operate), Madiha said, “In Karachi, our shop’s in Zamzama and that is the one stop for all Karachi’ites. However, in Lahore, we noted that there were quite a few places that people usually visit. There’s Cantt, MM Alam and Defence.”
The young CEO added that they had decided to open in Defence, after having a shop at the Mall of Lahore because “the Cantt was sealed off whenever there was a terrorist attack in the city. So we thought we should open another store in an area where our sales would not be affected that much. Defence was the obvious choice.”
“It took me two weeks to bake and decorate all the things that you see on the table. I have made them all, with my hands,” said Lal Majid proudly, adding, “Today I am exhausted but satisfied because people are full of compliments.” Lal is hopeful of a good response during the upcoming wedding season since she believes that the ‘mithai trend’ is now being replaced by chocolates “even in Lahore,” she added. Lal said that people who try the products once will know that theirs is the best brand. “We purchase our blends from various Belgian chocolate manufacturers and then melt and mould them to create our available variety,” she said.
The mother and daughter duo are both chocolate lovers. Their website states, “For us, chocolate is more than just a sweet treat...it’s a state of mind, and most importantly, a journey for everyone involved. Where you go is entirely up to you...” You can find more chocolate at Shop #33, Outer Circle, Round Market, Y-Block, Defence.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 26th, 2010.
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