Two days ago, while parking my car in front of The Gathering on rue Pasteur, a small sign caught my attention: "Nougat, Chocolate Attie" handwritten and coloured stuck on a closed shop with an arrow leading to the stairs. This sign surely doesn't reflect what I discovered inside. I didn't know anything about Attie or its chocolates but letting my curiosity guide me inside the building, I discovered one of Beirut's oldest and most famous Nougat manufacturers.
Since 1930 this family business has produced just two things -- honey with almond nougat, and chocolate with dried orange -- said to be the best in Lebanon. This is also a mini factory where you can watch the three aging shop employees hand-rolling each piece.
Nougat is a family of confectioneries made with sugar or honey, roasted nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, and recently macadamia nuts are common), whipped egg whites, and sometimes chopped candied fruit. The consistency of nougat can range from soft and chewy to hard and crunchy, and it is used in a variety of candy bars and chocolates. The word nougat comes from Occitan pan nogat, from Latin nux gatum 'nut cake'.
There are three basic kinds of nougat. The first, and most common, is white nougat, made with beaten egg whites and honey; it appeared in Cremona, Italy in the early 15th century and in Montélimar, France, in the 18th century. The second is brown nougat ("mandorlato" in Italy and nougatine in French) which is made without egg whites and has a firmer, often crunchy texture. The third is the Viennese or German nougat which is essentially a chocolate and nut (usually hazelnut) praline. Mr. Pierre Attie, following the steps of his grand-father, still produces to date the same Nougat like the ones known in Montelimar, dark chocolate flowers and orange dark chocolate flowers.
Nougat of Montelimar: Historically the starting of the nougat goes back to several centuries. It is thought that it was imported by the Greeks, Via Marseilles, which explain the success of this product in all Provence. One sees mention of the nougat in the years 1700-1701 since one speaks about the nougat with nuts, the cake with the nuts " Nux gatum " or " nougo ". End of XVIIème century, an gentleman agronomist , Olivier of Serre planted the mulberry tree, but also the almond tree in its field of Pradel in Villeneuve-of-Berg to a few kilometres of the South-west of Montelimar. The almond tree was acclimatized extremely well in Provence where the arid ground and limestone were appropriate to him perfectly. The effects of its propagation was to renew the nougat which, before him, was done with nuts cooked in honey. The almonds frays with the honey of Provence and Alps replaced nuts. Montelimar specialized in the manufacture of this delicious product where the almond made it possible the nougat to be whiter, softer and to better preserve itself. This transformation became and remained the prerogative of Montelimar. Montelimar became the city of the nougat as of second half of XVIIème century.
The Shop Sells:
- A 1kg bag of Nougat for 60,000L.L
- A 1kg box of chocolate for 60,000L.L
- Filled in a nylon bag on which is written: "Les Parois sont couvertes de papier hostie comestible. Pour le conserver, il est recommande de mettre notre nougat dans un sac en plastic ou dans un bocal hermétique".
- Individually wrapped Nougats in a white paper with honeycomb printing sides
- A rectangular honey Nougat with Pistachio
- Just bite into it and discover its unique simplicity and awesome taste
- A chewy feel hiding a strong flavor of honey felt instantly when this candy touches your lips
- A pleasant crunch adds the needed taste and finesse feel
- Ground floor, Fakhoury building, 331, Pasteur street, Gemmayzeh sector, Beirut, Lebanon
- Tel: +961 1 447-123