Finding Romance In Chinese Astrology

year of the horse

On 31 January, Singapore celebrated the Lunar New Year – this is one of the most important holidays in the Chinese calendar as it symbolizes the coming of spring.  I personally love the Lunar New Year celebrations because it is a wonderful opportunity to get together and celebrate with the family.

chinese astrology

The Chinese culture has its own zodiac or astrological signs, which rotate each Lunar New Year.   The different signs are named after 12 different animals, (see my post HERE for more information on the animals and the story behind them). This year marks the year of the horse.

Like the western astrological signs, each character in the Chinese zodiac has unique characteristics and personality traits.   As a result, different signs are more compatible as friends, companions and lovers than other.  Because we are approaching western culture’s Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be fun to share a chart outlining compatibility.  You may be surprised to learn that many people still rely on these charts when determining if a mate is suitable for them!

Chinese Astrology

If you are in Singapore and would like to know more about your zodiac sign, you can always approach a Capella Singapore Personal Assistant who can arrange you meeting with a Chinese Astrology expert to teach you more about your sign and the significance of the Chinese zodiac.

Romance In Singapore

Romance in Singapore

This February, love is in the air, especially in Singapore where the Chinese Valentine’s Day, which is the 15th day of the Lunar New Year, coincides with the Western Valentine’s Day.

To commemorate this occasion, I sought to uncover some of the most romantic spots and activities where you can savour the best of Singapore while enjoying the company of your loved one.  These are my top 3 recommendations:

The Jewel Box Cable Car Dining
I particularly love this because you get to enjoy a private dinner with your loved one high up in the sky with a panoramic view of the vibrant Singapore city and Sentosa Island below you.  It is certainly a remarkably memorable experience to watch the glistening lights below.  You will truly feel the romance of spending quality time in a space which you can call yours exclusively for the evening.

Romance in Singapore

Be My Valentine: A Spa Villa at Capella Singapore
Last week, I had the pleasure of having a preview of the Be My Valentine package here at Capella Singapore.  Now this is romance!  Enjoy one of Capella Singapore’s romantic villas for the weekend, which has been completely transformed with romance in mind.  This weekend getaway includes in-Villa Auriga spa treatments, a special Valentine’s dinner at The Knolls and even a one-hour photo-shoot to memoralize the weekend.  Of course there is plenty of champagne and chocolate as well.  Frankly, I can’t imagine a more romantic way to spend the holiday!

Take A Trishaw Ride Though Singapore
In my book, nothing says romance more than a whimsical tour though Singapore’s rich colonial heritage.  Trishaws are bicycle drawn carts, an evolution of the rickshaws, which were used as transportation for the wealthy in old Singapore.  Today you can cosy up to your loved one as you take a ride though some of Singapore’s most culturally rich places like Chinatown – just you and your partner, and of course your friendly trishaw guide who’ll be eagerly share fascinating historical tales.

If you would like to know more about any of these couple’s activities in, please approach your Capella Singapore Personal Assistants who would be pleased to share their favourite romantic haunts in Singapore.

Auriga Detox Day At Capella Singapore

Detox Tips

With the Christmas season behind us, here in Singapore, the festive feasting continues with the Lunar New Year just around the corner.  During this time, Detox is the buzz of the town.

I had the wonderful opportunity to try out the Auriga spa Detox Day treatment which was something specially designed by Auriga spa to compliment The Organic Pharmacy’s 10-Day Detox Programme, a special kit that comes complete with tailored menus, recipes and activities to guide you through a 10-Day Detox ritual.

Detox Tips

While I was looking through The Organic Pharmacy’s 10-Day Detox Programme, I was thrilled to find a series of simple Detox tips to an effective detoxification process.  Here are a few of my favourite:

  • On waking each morning, drink glass of hot water with half a lemon squeezed in it.  The lemon provides nutrients to your body, which is quickly absorbed because there is no food yet in the body.  This practice also helps to break down the mucus in the body and alkalises the tissue.  Not to mention, the tangy zest from the lemon is a sure wake-me-up.
  • Ten minutes of breathing exercises, followed by another ten minutes of stretching is great for clearing and calming the mind as well as to get the blood circulating.  If you do not have much time, reduce the time to five minutes for each.  I felt so refreshed and rejuvenated after taking time off from my busy schedule to do this.  Stress is one of the biggest causes of the buildup of toxins in the body so this is the perfect preventive measure.
  • Before taking a shower, gently dry brush the skin to improve blood circulation and remove impurities on the skin.  I particularly love the soothing feeling of the dry bristles exfoliating the skin.
  • Shower and massage the body with body oils containing rosemary and grapefruit essential oils.  Besides its antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, Rosemary has been known to boost the immune and circulatory system.  Meanwhile, grapefruit oil is not only a lymphatic stimulant, but also has anti-depressant properties- sure to keep you feeling positive.

If your New Year’s resolutions are of the wellness variety, these Detox tips are something to consider.  In fact, you can also pamper yourself and get detoxed in style at Capella Singapore’s Auriga spa with the Auriga Detox Day treatment.

Capella Singapore’s Foie Gras Terrine

Foie Gras Terrine

December is probably my favourite month in the year, simply because the air is just full of festivities and good cheer.

One of the things that I always look forward to is the scrumptious, mouthwatering Christmas meals.  Capella Singapore’s Executive Chef David Senia, was kind enough to share with me a recipe for a very festive appetizer which The Knolls will be serving this festive season – a Foie Gras Terrine with Apple Chutney and Brioche.

I love the simple preparation that impresses with its beautiful flavours.

Foie Gras Terrine

Terrine of Goose Liver, Vanilla Apple Chutney and Brioche Toast

Foie Gras Terrine

1kg  Foie Gras

10g  Salt

3g  Pepper

4g  Sugar

  • Marinate the Foie Gras with salt pepper and sugar and place it in a terrine
  • Put the terrine in a hot water bath and cook it at 55 degrees Celsius for an hour
  • Allow it to cool and set for one day
  • Remove the foie gras from the terrine and slice it evenly

Apple Chutney

500g  Sugar

1.5kg  Granny Smith apple (peeled and cored)

5pcs  Cardamom

5  Vanilla Pods

  • Dice the Granny Smith apple into fine pieces.
  • Combine all the ingredients, including the diced apples into a large saucepan and cook
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally
  • Reduce the heat and continue allowing the mixture to simmer while stirring occasionally until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  • Remove from heat and allow it to cool.

Assembling the dish:

  • Place the sliced foie gras terrine in between two slices of toasted brioche and smear a generous helping of apple chutney across the plate.
  • To garnish, chop some nuts (hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, pistachios) and gooseberries in a bowl toss it with vanilla olive oil

Additional festive garnishing tips from Chef David: you can add some micro herbs, such as coriander leaves, which not only add a decorative touch to the dish but also enhance the taste.

Bon Appétit!

Capella Singapore’s Peranakan Experience

Traditional Peranakan beading work.

Last week I had the opportunity to accompany one of the Capella Singapore Personal Assistants on a trip to the Peranakan museum as part of the new Peranakan Experience that we have created for guests who would like to explore the local Singapore culture.

Part of the tour took us to the Peranakan Museum, which showcased decades of age-old Peranakan culture and history.  For those unfamiliar, the Peranakan culture evolved from the early Chinese and Malay settlers in colonial Singapore and Malaysia who intermarried resulting in an exotic blend of cultures.

One thing I found particularly interesting was the strong matriarchal tendencies among the Peranakan.  While the men were the sole breadwinners for the family, the women, known as Nonyas, stayed home and ran the household.  As a result, one of the unique traits of Nonya women is that they are skilled in the culinary arts and crafts that distinguish the culture.  Luckily for me, I had the opportunity to experience both these luxuries.

Following our tour of the Peranakan Museum, we headed to a near by Peranakan restaurant.  The cuisine, while employing many traditional Chinese preparations, is extremely unique in its flavor profile.  We tried everything from a Fish Head Curry (not nearly as mad as the name suggests!) to Kueh Pie Tee, which featured shredded bamboo shoots and shrimp inside mini pie shells.  The flavors were exotic and bold and the dishes beautifully presented.

Traditional Peranakan beading work.

Traditional Peranakan beading work.

From there we headed to a shop run by a Peranakan woman, who still creates the traditional beaded shoes as well as selling beautiful kebayas.  Like the food the clothing was also brightly colored and rich in ornate detail.  We were told that some of the shoes could take several months to make as each bead was sewn on individually.  The same held true for the blouses and sarongs, as even the most “casual” kebaya was intricately decked out in skilled embroidery. Truly an art form!

The Peranakan culture is truly a significant part of the Singapore culture and something you really must experience for your self.  The next time you are at Capella Singapore be sure to ask your Personal Assistant for the Peranakan Experience.  I am sure you will love to learn about the history, culture and food just as much as I did!

Deepavali: A Festival Of Lights

Deepavali

Just recently, Singapore celebrated Deepavali, or Diwali as it is also known, one of the biggest and most important celebrations in the Hindu calendar.  Deepavali literally translated, means a row of lamps and it is observed by families traditionally lighting oil lamps to signify the triumph of good over evil.

Deepavali

For Hindus, Deepavali is typically celebrated over five days, with each day bearing a special significance. The festivities start with Dhanteras which also represents the beginning of the financial year for many Indian business communities. The second day of the festival is known as the Naraka Chaturdasi marking the vanquishing of the demon Naraka, a celebration of the triumph of good over evil.

Amavasya, which is the third day of Diwali, symbolizes the worship of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Amavasya also tells the story of the Hindu Lord Vishnu, who vanquished the tyrant Bali, and banished him to hell. Bali was allowed to return to earth once a year, to light millions of lamps to dispel the darkness and ignorance, and spread the radiance of love and wisdom. The fourth day of Deepavali is known as Kartika Shudda Padyami is when Bali returns to earth to light the lamps. The fifth day is referred to as Yama Dvitiya, and on this day sisters invite their brothers to their homes for reunion.

In Singapore, Deepavali is a public holiday and the festivities are observed primarily by the Indian community, more specifically, the Tamils. It is typically marked by a vibrant lighting display along the streets of Little India in Serangoon Road which is the heart of the Indian community.

Apart from the light-up, Little India is all abuzz with a kaleidoscope of activities such as bazaars, exhibitions, parades and concerts. Here you can find a vast collection of traditional Indian artifacts, floral garlands and colourful Saris – the traditional Indian costumes which feature intricate brocade patterns and glittering gems. Traditional arts and crafts will also be on sale at the bazaars.

Like many Asian traditions and celebrations, the date for Deepavali is dependent on the phase of the moon. As such it is typically celebrated between the end of October and early November. If you are in Singapore during this period, you must remember to ask your Capella Singapore Personal Assistant for more information on the activities lined up for the Deepavali celebrations.