Discover Iceland’s Reyka Vodka in Singapore

Having visited some 25 countries, Iceland is one of my all-time favourites.  The minute I touched down, Iceland’s stark beauty stole my heart.  Its immaculate snow-scapes, glaciers, volcanoes and geysers are lit with a soft ethereal light.

Glacials in Iceland

Glacials in Iceland

With a population of approximately 338,800 spread over a vast area of 103,000km2 (that’s more than 140 times larger than Singapore), this magical island is pristine, unspoilt and unfathomable.  It is a land where up to 80% of people reportedly still believe in elves and trolls!

Iceland at dusk

Iceland at dusk

So imagine how thrilled I was to be invited for The Herbal Tales experience, a bespoke Icelandic vodka cocktail tasting at Capella Singapore’s Bob’s Bar.  Created with fresh herbs and Reyka Vodka made from pure Icelandic spring water filtered through lava rocks, it conjures up the breathtaking beauty of Iceland.

As part of this exclusive experience, the bartender invited me to pick my own bouquet of herbs and spices.  I sniffed my way through Bob’s Bar’s very own herb garden, and finally decided on fresh rosemary and lemon verbena.  My bartender then expertly crafted my bespoke cocktail, and I was instantly teleported to the Arctic Circle again.

Bespoke Icelandic Vodka Cocktail at Bob's Bar

Bespoke Icelandic Vodka Cocktail at Bob’s Bar

Deeply intrigued, I caught up with Charlene Low, regional brand manager of William Grant & Sons (which includes Reyka Vodka under its portfolio of premium spirits).  She shares some rare insights and insider tips with me.

What is most interesting about Reyka Vodka?

Charlene: Reyka is an old Icelandic word for ‘smoke’ or ‘steam’.  We use geothermal energy to power our Reyka Vodka distillery, making it one of the greenest distillation processes in the world.  We also use lava rock in place of charcoal for filtration, contributing to its clean taste.

Share with us your tasting notes for this vodka.

Charlene: It is superbly clean, and slightly sweet with subtle aniseed and fennel, faint cream-of-soda vanilla and light peppery spice.

What herbs go best with vodka?

Charlene: Being such a versatile spirit, you can use your favourite herbs to create almost any cocktail.  The best way to do this is to use a Reyka Tonic as your base, add a slice of grapefruit and your choice of herbs.  I like mine with thyme and tarragon.

What are your best vodka mixology tips?

Charlene: Try a vodka martini – this puts the spirit at the forefront so you can fully experience and appreciate its subtle flavours.

What’s a popular Icelandic vodka cocktail?

Charlene: Foragers Ramble is popular in Iceland.  It’s a delicious blend of Reyka Vodka, homemade thyme syrup, cinzano bianco, Reyka bitters, dandelion and burdock bitters. I’d highly recommend it if you’re visiting Iceland.

Foragers Ramble cocktail

Foragers Ramble cocktail

For a bespoke Icelandic cocktail experience in Singapore, swing by Bob’s Bar at Capella Singapore any Saturday or Sunday of October between 5-9pm.  More details on The Herbal Tales experience here.

Celebrate 50 Years: 6 Unique Singapore Experiences

If you’re in Singapore over the next few weeks, you’ve picked the best time to visit!  On the cusp of our golden jubilee, Singapore is one of the most exciting cities to be in.

We may be just a tiny red dot on the world map, but our small size simply makes us better at packing a lot of flavour into every experience.  And to celebrate our 50th birthday, our nation has gone the extra mile to orchestrate unique Singapore experiences in the month of August.  Here’s a peek at my personal calendar this month!

#1  Watch Fireworks Light An Iconic Skyline

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There’s something magical about watching firework light up the night – the dancing lights juxtaposed against a spectacular urban skyline is truly unforgettable.  Although catching the National Day Parade fireworks is a yearly ritual for me, I am particularly excited this year.  To celebrate 50 years of independence, the fireworks next month will be at an unprecedented scale, and specially designed to reflect the theme of ‘Majulah Singapura, or ‘Onwards Singapore’ in Malay.

This year, in additional to fireworks on National Day (9 August) and at the National Day Preview (1 August), you can also catch fireworks on 7 and 8 August at the Marina Basin.  The best part is, you won’t even need a ticket to the parade to witness these spectacular light displays.  Simply find a good spot along the Marina Bay Sands Waterfront, Esplanade, Marina Barrage or Helix Bridge for an unblocked view.

#2  Soak In Local Culture At Singapore’s First UNESCO Site

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I’m extremely proud to share that our garden city finally got its own UNESCO heritage site!  And fittingly, it is one of my favourite gardens in the world – the Singapore Botanic Gardens.  The minute you step into this green sanctuary, you will pick up a whiff of exotic herbs, flowers and lush foliage.  From the exquisite National Orchid Garden to the finely sculpted Bonsai Garden, our trees reflect our nation’s unique history, culture and personality.  I also love exploring the century-old heritage trees, which always inspire me to appreciate the fleeting beauty and transience of life.

After an afternoon of exploration, I particularly enjoy kicking back and enjoying an evening concert or outdoor movie screening accompanied by a cool evening breeze.  To celebrate Singapore’s birthday month, the Singapore Botanic Garden’s August line-up include local films such as It’s A Great Great World and Singapore Dreaming.  If you’re visiting Singapore for the first time, this will offer you an instant immersion in local culture and common expressions.

#3  Try The 50-Finger Massage At Capella Singapore’s Auriga Spa

7. Couple's Spa at Auriga

I’ll admit that I have a soft spot for spa treatments. Carving up me-time is my secret to staying young, and beating everyday stress.  Auriga Spa is one of my favourite places because it instantly transports me from the mundane demands of life and the ceaseless bustle of the city.

For the month of August, Auriga’s Spa director Shanti has designed the ultimate indulgence – the 50-Finger Massage.  As you can imagine, this 50-Finger Massage was inspired by SG50 and Singapore’s 50th birthday, so no expense is spared to ensure your utmost comfort and relaxation.  Performed by five therapists in synchronised motions, this massage soothes the legs, body, hands, neck and scalp, kneading away every tensed muscle in the body at once.  It takes one through Auriga’s four signature moon phase therapies – the New Moon to awaken the senses, Waxing Moon to loosen tight joints, Full Moon for balance and Waning Moon for detoxification and cleansing.  I felt utterly renewed after this treatment.

#4  Go Museum-Hopping Around Singapore

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Museums are the best place to soak in culture, and Singapore offers some of the best museums in Southeast Asia.  From art to culture, history and science, museum-hopping is one of the best ways to indulge my inner geek.

One of my favourite museums is The National Museum – also the oldest museum in Singapore, and a haven of intricate artefacts.  Singapura: 700 Years is currently on display at this museum, and chronicles our nation’s transformation from a fishing village to modern Singapore.  Also worth a visit are the Asian Civilisation Museum, the Singapore Art Museum, and The ArtScience Museum.

#5   Shop For Quirky Souvenirs

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Whenever international friends visit Singapore, I love presenting them with Singapore-inspired souvenirs.  However, one thing I do not love, is ‘Singapore Is A Fine City’ T-shirts.  If you’re looking for more design-driven and less clichéd options, two of my current raves are Naiise and Mandy T.

Naiise is a Singapore-based shopping portal that stocks curated designs by more than 250 brands from Singapore and around the world.  This includes homeware, art, T-shirts and fashion accessories that allude to local humour and expressions.  Many of these designs are modern, clean and intelligent.

Beautyphiles will also adore Mandy T, an artisan natural skincare atelier that will give many large brands a run for their money with tasteful and personal creations.  Mandy, founder of the eponymous label, is a former marketer and publicist who cooks up beauty remedies free from synthetic dyes, artificial fragrances, parabens and petrochemicals.  Many of her products feature fresh herbs from her very own garden.

#6  Toast To 50 Years Of Singapore At Bob’s Bar

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If like me, you’ve had one too many Singapore Slings, it’s time to discover a new Singapore-inspired cocktail.  Exclusively for the month of August, Bob’s Bar unveils a new national cocktail crafted by bartender Vincent Zheng.

The Red Island is made with ingredients that represent the four main ethnicities of Singapore – Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian.  It is as complex and unforgettable as it sounds.  An ode to Singapore’s cultural diversity, this Shiraz wine concoction is an ideal way to round up my Singapore adventures.  Cheers to more amazing travels!

For more activities in Singapore, please visit the Capella Singapore’s website here, or contact your personal assistant for recommendations.

 

 

Super Summer Thirst Quenchers

Bob's Bar's Fresh-Pressed Mojito

Bob’s Bar’s Fresh-Pressed Mojito

Thanks to year-round summer in Singapore, ice cold drinks have become a hot weather survival essential.  Given that daytime temperatures average at 30ºC and nighttime temperatures rarely drop below 27ºC, there’s never a bad time for a chilled beverage.

When it comes to hosting, cold drinks are also the life of any party – you can always find a good crowd gathered around the cocktail bowl.  In fact, as far as Singaporeans are concerned, there’s no party without refreshing summer thirst quenchers!

Since making a good chilled beverage is an essential life-skill here, I’ve determined to learn from the best.  With that in mind, I’ve asked Bob’s Bar’s bartender Vincent Zheng, and The Knoll’s Pastry Chef Sam for their all-time crowd-pleasers.

Vincent prefers beach parties, and shares Bob’s Bar’s spin on the classic mojito.  Chef Sam, on the other hand, is known to host intimate dessert gatherings, and suggests an elegant cold-infused tea with tart apple notes. I simply couldn’t wait to have my first sip!

Recipe 1: Fresh-Pressed Mojito

Bartender’s notes: “I had my first mojito many years ago at a Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan, Thailand.  Since then, mojitos have been my drink of choice for beach parties.  This Bob’s Bar recipe replaces soda water in classic mojitos with sugar cane juice. Since rum, the key alcohol in mojitos, is made of sugar cane, this recipe accentuates the rich flavour profile of rum.” – Vincent

Ingredients
Serves 1

45ml white rum
60ml fresh sugar cane juice
15ml fresh lime juice
15ml sugar syrup
Handful of fresh mint leaves
Crushed ice

Directions

Combine all ingredients and stir well. Serve in a tall glass

Tips

  • If you don’t have a blender to create crushed ice, you can replace it with ice cubes. However, if you are using ice cubes, be sure to gently crush the mint leaves with your fingers to bring out their fresh aroma.
  • For a large party, you can also make this in advance.  Prepare it in a cocktail bowl and refrigerate. Simply scale up your ingredients according to the number of guests you are expecting. However, be sure to leave the mint leaves out, and only add them before serving to prevent them from oxidising and turning brown.

Recipe 2: Apple-Infused Iced Green Tea

Chef’s notes: At least once a year, I’d throw a dessert party for my closest friends, and this subtle tea makes an excellent pairing with my creations.  Unlike hot tea, cold brewing draws out fewer tannic compounds for a lighter-bodied tea with less bitterness.  This is elevated with sweet and tart apple puree – apple puree from jarred baby food works just fine.  You can skip the sugar or artificial fruit syrups! – Chef Sam

Ingredients
Serves 6

4 teaspoons of premium green tea leaves
6 cups of water
4 bottles of baby food apple puree

Directions

  1. Freeze the baby food apple puree in ice cube trays overnight.
  2. Combine tea leaves with water in a large pitcher.
  3. Refrigerate for 4-6 hours.
  4. Strain tea to remove tea leaves.
  5. Add frozen apple puree cubes and serve.

 

2If you love cocktails and spirits, swing by Capella Singapore’s Bob’s Bar to savour our fresh-pressed cocktails, and curated vintage and artisan collection.

And have a chat with our enthusiastic bartenders such as Vincent. They’d be happy to share recommendations and mixology tips!

 

 

 

 

Summer Ice Cream Profiteroles

Ice Cream Profiteroles

Ice Cream Profiteroles

What does summer tastes like?  When I posed this question to Capella Singapore’s Pastry Chef Sam, he didn’t have to pause to think twice.

“Ice cream profiteroles and summer are a match made in tropical paradise,” he shares.

This dough keeps well for three days in the freezer, so you can prep for a summer party in advance, or savour it slowly over a few days.  “Dessert is a luxury that should be enjoyed on a daily basis – not just reserved for special occasions,” he adds.  So get creative, and fill it with cream, ice cream or enjoy it on its own.

However, that is not the only reason Chef Sam is so fond of these little gems.  They remind him of the cream puffs his favourite aunt used to make for him in his younger days.  And they certainly take me back to my own carefree childhood as well.

The chef’s three tips for avid or aspiring home bakers: have patience, infuse a sense of warmth into your creations, and keep your flavours simple and well balanced.

And his tip for avid foodies such as me? Tuck in before it melts!

Pastry Chef Sam making gorgeous profiteroles

Pastry Chef Sam making gorgeous profiteroles

Summer Ice Cream Profiterole Recipe
Makes 20 servings

Ingredients
250g milk
250g water
3g salt
10g sugar
200g butter
300g all-purpose flour
10g baking powder
8 eggs
Ice cream or sorbet of your choice
Fresh berries for garnishing

Directions

1. In a pot, bring milk, water, salt, sugar and butter to a strong boil.

2. Add in sifted dry ingredients to the pot, stir and cook till mixture comes together into a ball without clumps.

3. Remove the dough from the heat and add half your beaten egg mixture, slowly stirring with a spatula.  Then, add the other half until the dough is glossy.

4. Pipe one-inch balls onto a sheet tray lined with baking paper.

5. Bake at 180ºC for 25 minutes.

6. Remove from oven, allow to cool for 5 minutes, and cut horizontally in half.

7. Fill with your favourite ice cream, and serve in a champagne saucer or on a plate garnished with fresh berries.

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To enjoy perfect profiteroles or other exquisite desserts, join us for a meal at The Knolls. Say ‘Hi’ to Pastry Chef Sam while you’re here! He helms Capella Singapore’s pastry team.

 

10 Reasons To Visit A Capella Hotel This Summer

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Welcome June and sunny weather with summer vacations just around the corner!  At Capella Ixtapa in Ixtapa Zihuatanejo, Mexico, we have lovely warm weather all year long, but summer months are still among my favorites, because that’s the time when my family, friends and I have vacations and plan travels together, to which I’m always looking forward.

This summer I have decided to make a so-called “Capella Hotels tour” and visit some of our sister hotels.  I’m planning to visit our sister hotel Capella DC, in Washington DC, and Capella Marigot Bay in St. Lucia (while a visit to Breidenbacher HofA Capella Hotel in Dusseldorf, Germany, and Capella Singapore on Sentosa Island, are high on my travel list, they may have to wait for 2016).  I am so excited to meet my colleagues from around the world, and taste and live the experiences which I have seen in photographs and read about here on our Capella Hotels blog.

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Have you made your summer travel plans yet?  If not, I invite you to visit us at Capella Ixtapa or any of Capella Hotels’ properties around the world.  If you have stayed at any of Capella Hotels before, I am sure you are intrigued to visit them all!  Here is what I love about Capella Hotels, and what excites me about my upcoming Capella Hotels summer vacations tour:

  1. Opportunity to visit five unique properties located in five different countries, all offering a unique, private and luxurious environment.  You can’t help but feel incredibly welcome-  like visiting your dearest loved ones.
  2. Exceptional quality, where only the best is good enough; from room decor, to food and beverages, to small but thoughtful details.
  3. Unobtrusive, gracious and unscripted service, where you feel part of the family, everyone calls you by name and remembers you when you return the next time.
  4. Five star gourmet experiences, which you can enjoy at resorts’ restaurants with exquisite chefs and culinary teams, or at our hotels’ own gourmet festivals, which honor the local traditions and combine them with the best in contemporary cuisine.
  5. Experiences based on local traditions, enhanced by the support of the Capella Hotels and Resorts’ Personal Assistants.  Visit the local market with Executive Chef and choose ingredients for your meal, taste local liquors with the experts, delve into the history and culture of these rich locations.
  6. World renown spas.  Don’t you just love having a spa experience when on vacation?  Wherever I travel, I simply must have a spa treatment, as I love experiencing spa treatments in different countries.  At Capella Ixtapa for example our spa treatments are based on ancient Mexican traditions and created with local flowers and herbs.  Several Capella properties are in fact home to the signature Auriga spa brand, recognized for their amazing services and treatments.
  7. The unique Personal Assistant service, which allows you to enjoy your vacations just the way you like them, worry-free!  Capella Personal Assistant can assist by organizing everything from  dinner reservation and baby-sitting service to exotic tours, personalized room touches or anything else you can imagine!
  8. Disconnect, relax and recharge.  While Capella Hotels offer free wi-fi service at the properties, we do encourage that you disconnect (for at least a little while), and let yourself enjoy the experience completely.  After your stay you will be relaxed, recharged and invigorated and your productivity will be at its best (I promise!).
  9. Creating beautiful and unforgettable memories.
  10. Getting to know new cities and countries, learning some of their traditions, culture and meeting new and interesting people.

Tell me, where will you travel this summer?  Have you visited any of Capella Hotels yet, and what was your favorite experience?  Please share your thoughts with me in the comments below.

10 Razones Para Visitar un Hotel Capella Este Verano

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Seas bienvenido Junio y el clima soleado que anuncia que las vacaciones de verano ¡están a la vuelta de la esquina! En Capella Ixtapa y en Ixtapa Zihuatanejo, México, tenemos la fortuna de tener un clima agradable a lo largo de todo el año, aún así los meses de verano son mis favoritos, ya que esta es la temporada cuando yo, mis amigos y familia tenemos vacaciones y podemos planear viajes juntos, algo que siempre me emociona mucho.

Este verano he decidido hacer un “Tour de Hoteles Capella” y visitar algunos de nuestros hoteles hermanos.  Planeo visitar nuestro hotel hermano Capella DC en Washington DC, y Capella Marigot Bay en St. Lucia (mientras que la visita a nuestros hoteles hermanos Breidenbacher Hof, nuestro hotel Capella en Dusseldorf, Alemania y Capella Singapore en la Isla Sentosa, aunque están como prioridades en mi lista, tendrán que esperar a 2016).  Estoy muy emocionada de conocer a mis colegas de otras partes del mundo, y probar y vivir tantas experiencias maravillosas de las cuales he leído y visto fotos aquí en nuestro Blog de Hoteles Capella.

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Y Tu, ¿Ya tienes planes para viajar este verano?  Si no lo has hecho, te invito a que nos visites en Capella Ixtapa o cualquiera de las propiedades de Hoteles Capella alrededor del mundo.  Si ya te has quedado anteriormente en alguno de los Hoteles Capella, seguramente te intriga ¡visitarlos todos!  He aquí lo que me encanta de los Hoteles Capella y lo que me emociona acerca de mi próximo tour de verano por los Hoteles Capella:

1. La oportunidad de visitar cinco propiedades únicas en su tipo ubicadas en diferentes países, todas ofreciendo un ambiente único, privado y lujoso, donde uno no puede evitar más que sentirse increíblemente bienvenido -como visitar a seres queridos.

2. Calidad excepcional, donde solo lo mejor es nuestro estándar; desde la decoración de las habitaciones, a los alimentos y bebidas sin olvidar los pequeños pero cuidadosamente pensados detalles.

3. Un servicio agradable pero discreto y sin un guión preestablecido, donde te hacen sentir parte de la familia, todos conocen tu nombre y te recuerdan cada vez que nos visitas de vuelta.

4. Experiencias gourmet de cinco estrellas, las cuales las puedes disfrutar en los restaurantes de nuestros resorts con equipos culinarios y Chefs exquisitos, como también en nuestros propios festivales gourmet, los cuales honran las tradiciones locales y las combinan con lo mejor de la cocina contemporánea.

5. Experiencias basadas en las tradiciones y cultura local, mejorada por el apoyo de los Personal Assistants de Resorts y Hoteles Capella.  Visita mercados locales con el Chef Ejecutivo y elige personalmente los ingredientes de tus alimentos, prueba licores locales con expertos y sumérgete en la historia y cultura de nuestras maravillosas ubicaciones.

6. Spas de renombre mundial.  ¿No te encanta experimentar un spa cuando estás de vacaciones?  A donde sea que viaje, necesito tener un tratamiento de spa, ya que me encanta vivir la experiencia de tratamientos de spa en diferentes países.  En Capella Ixtapa por ejemplo, nuestros tratamientos de spa están basados en tradiciones mexicanas ancestrales y creadas con flores y hierbas locals.  Muchas de las propiedades Capella son poseedoras de un Auriga Spa, reconocidos mundialmente por sus increíbles tratamientos y servicio.

7. El inigualable servicio de los Personal Assistant, el cual te permite disfrutar tus vacaciones como a ti te gusta, ¡sin preocupaciones!  Los Personal Assistant de Hoteles Capella te pueden ayudar a organizar lo que desees, desde reservas para cenar y servicio de niñera, hasta tours exóticos, toques personales en tu habitación o ¡todo lo que tu imagines y desees!

8. Desconecta, relájate y recarga.  Mientras que los Hoteles Capella ofrecen servicio de wi-fi gratuito en sus propiedades te recomendamos siempre desconectarte (por lo menos por un rato), y dejarte sumergir y disfrutar completamente la experiencia Capella.  Después de tu estancia con nosotros te sentirás relajado, recargado, y motivado por lo cual tu productividad estará lista al máximo (¡lo prometemos!).

9. Crear hermosas e inolvidables memorias.

10. Conocer nuevos países y ciudades, aprender algunas de sus tradiciones, cultura y conocer gente nueva e interesante.

Dime, ¿a dónde viajarás este verano?  ¿Nos has visitado ya en alguno de los Hoteles Capella, y cuál fue tu experiencia favorita?  Por favor comparte con nosotros tus ideas en el espacio para comentarios bajo este post.