The siren song of chocolate called. So in early April, Hamoody Houdroge and fiancee Kelly Brown opened Verdun, a chic little chocolate and gift shop tucked into the ground floor of the Gregory condominiums, 421 N.W. 10th Ave., in the tony Pearl District. The chocolates, displayed like a grand dame's jewels, are imported from Beirut, Lebanon. The shop's name comes from Beirut's premiere shopping district, once occupied by the French and named after the French town where the World War I battle was fought. The boutique-style shop also sells dragŽes, or Jordan almonds, and silver-plated trays and a gleaming silver-plated hookah. Figs, dates and apricots will hit the shelves soon. 'We hadn't seen a presentation quite like this in Portland,' Brown says. Indeed, it would be easy to peer through the window and mistake Verdun for a jewelry store. All of the chocolate lovelies are hand-wrapped in a palette of blue, silver and green and a whole lot easier on the bottom line than a trip to Tiffany's.

Ñ Michaela Bancud

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