Gastronomic Journeys with Reine Sammut

Queen of Hearts Reine Sammut whipping up love

I have always believed that it is impossible to fully enjoy a chocolate éclair without ever being in love, being to Paris, or being in love in Paris.  Food, to me, has always offered the most immediate path to emotions and experiences – whether it conjures up a crisp Spring morning in France, riotous family dinners at home, or warm fuzzy feelings of love.

The best chefs maintain this ongoing ‘conversation’ with you at the dining table.  Like master storytellers, their food tells you about themselves; their personal journeys, joys and heartbreaks; and also trigger your most private memories and intimate experiences.

So it was a rare treat to speak with one-star Michelin chef Reine Sammut before relishing her creations at The Knolls, Capella Singapore, from 13-16 November.  In this short tête-à-tête, the reigning Queen of Hearts talks about meeting her husband, her greatest source of inspiration, and what true love tastes like.

Queen of Hearts Reine Sammut whipping up love

Queen of Hearts Reine Sammut whipping up love

Reine Sammut on Food and Love…

If I weren’t a chef, I would have been a doctor.  I fell in love with cooking when I fell in love with my husband Guy.  I was studying medicine then, but I decided to leave school for him and learn cooking from my mother-in-law Claudette.

My greatest source of inspiration comes from travel and books.  They are my portals to new worlds and perspectives. These experiences help me create food that evokes genuine emotions and create a sense of place.

My favourite comfort food is pasta.  It’s like how some people would dig into a tub of ice cream when they are having a bad day…  I think it’s impossible to have a bad day when you have freshly made pasta.

My favourite ‘cheap thrill’ food is sardine.  They are chockfull of omega-3 fatty acids, and are sustainable and delicious. Even when prepared simply with olive oil and salt, they will win you over with their rich flavour.

An unusual and delicious food I’d recommend is Melokhia.  This popular Middle Eastern soup or stew contains a namesake vegetable, which has a thick, viscous consistency somewhat similar to okra.

One of my favourite French restaurants is La Chassagnette in Arles.  Set in the middle of an organic vegetable garden, this restaurant’s décor and food are irresistibly charming.

If I had to prepare one last meal, it would be bouillabaisse.  This traditional Provencal fish stew contains many kinds of fish, seafood, olive oil, vegetables and herbs. You can taste the freshness of the sea and the garden in every single bite.  We usually make this in a large pot and share it with family and friends, so this dish always makes me feel warm and think of the people I love.

"Calissons” is a Provencal-style iced cream made with almonds

“Calissons” is a Provencal-style iced cream made with almonds

Reine Sammut will be conjuring up culinary magic at CapellaSingapore’s The Knolls from 13-16 November. View her stellar menu HERE.

St. Martin’s Day in Dusseldorf

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I love when the weather shifts in Germany.  It is a sure sign that the holidays are upon us.  The first seasonal holiday is St. Martin’s Day.  The holiday is November 11th, but really festivities begin the night of the 10th.  This holiday is a wonderful reminder to be kind to those around us and is also lots of fun for children to participate in!

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Do you know the story of St. Martin? His actual name was Martin de Tours and he was born in 316 in Hungary. His colleagues and friends appreciated him because of his big heart: St. Martin reached out to people who were ill, gave help to the needy and shared his belongings where he could.  One day, when it was very cold, St. Martin came across a beggar freezing in the streets.  A snow storm was about to erupt and the beggar, who had little clothing, was sure to freeze.  St. Martin, who was on horseback dismounted to check on the beggar.  Realizing that the man was near freezing, St. Martin removed his own cape and drew his sword, slicing the cape in two.  He then gave the beggar half of the cape, ensuring the man’s survival.  It is this event that we celebrate each year.  I still remember my first St. Martin’s celebration and continue to take part every year.

The ceremony starts early in the evening when the sun goes down. In Dusseldorf we meet in the Old Town and everyone brings colorful lanterns which create a romantic and picturesque atmosphere. You can’t imagine what kind of feeling it is to be part of this crowd, watching actors who reenact the life of St. Martin and sing songs about him.

When the ceremony is over, my favorite part of the celebration starts: All of the kids and their parents walk from house to house, sing songs with their lanterns and get candy in return.  Although I’ve become too old to collect candy myself, I still enjoy being part of the tradition, handing out treats to the children.

What do you think? Will you be part of the St. Martin’s Day this year? Come out and watch the performance in the Old Town with me!  We will get you a pretty lantern and I’d love to teach you the songs so we can experience this unforgettable evening together.  For more information, please contact your Breidenbacher Hof, A Capella Hotel  Personal Assistant at pa.bbh@capellahotels.com.

 

St. Martinsfest in Düsseldorf

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Ich liebe es, wenn die Tage in Düsseldorf kürzer werden und die Temperatur langsam sinkt, denn dies ist ein sicheres Zeichen dafür, dass die Feiertage unmittelbar bevor stehen. Der erste Feiertag in Deutschland ist das St.Martinsfest, welches traditionell erst am 11. November stattfindet, jedoch schon am Abend des 10.Novembers gefeiert wird. Dieser Feiertag ist besonders für Kinder mit viel Spaß verbunden und ein wunderbares Beispiel dafür, dass man respektvoll mit seinen Mitmenschen umgehen sollte.  610fbea0791

Kennt ihr die Geschichte von St. Martin? Sein richtiger Name war Martin von Toulouse und er wurde 316 in Ungarn geboren. Seine Freunde und Bekannten schätzten ihn vor allem aufgrund seines großen Herzens und seiner Selbstlosigkeit: St. Martin unterstützte Kranke, half Bedürftigen und verteilte seine Habseligkeiten wann immer er konnte. An einem sehr kalten Tag, begegnete St.Martin am Stadttor von Amiens einem frierenden Bettler. Ein Schneesturm zog auf und der Bettler, welcher nur wenig Kleidung trug, drohte zu erfrieren. Ohne zu zögern teilte St.Martin seinen eigenen Mantel mit seinem Schwert und gab dem Bettler die Hälfte dieses Mantels, wodurch er sein Überleben sicherte. Dies ist genau die Szene, welche jedes Jahr im November nachgestellt und gefeiert wird. Ich erinnere mich immer noch an mein erstes St.Martinsfest und nehme seitdem jedes Jahr daran teil.

Die Feierlichkeiten starten am frühen Abend, wenn die Sonne gerade untergeht. In Düsseldorf treffen wir uns zu Beginn in der Altstadt und jeder bringt bunte Laternen mit, welche eine romantische und gemütliche Atmosphäre erzeugen. Ihr könnt Euch nicht vorstellen, was für ein einzigartiges Gefühl es ist, Teil dieser Menge zu sein, die Schauspieler bei ihrer Vorstellung zu beobachten und die Lieder mitzusingen.

Wenn die Feierlichkeit vorbei ist, dann beginnt mein Lieblingsmoment des Abends: Alle Kinder und ihre Eltern ziehen mit den bunten Laternen von Haus zu Haus und sammeln Süßigkeiten. Auch wenn ich leider schon zu alt dafür bin selber Süßigkeiten zu sammeln, freue ich mich immer wieder darauf, Teil des St.Martinsfestes zu sein. Nun darf ich Süßigkeiten verteilen während die Kinder singen.

Was denkt ihr? Möchtet ihr dieses Jahr auch Teil des St.Martinstages sein? Kommt vorbei und schaut Euch den Umzug mit mir gemeinsam in der Altstadt an. Keine Angst, denn ich versorge Euch gerne mit einer schönen Laterne und bringe Euch auch die traditionellen Lieder bei, sodass wir einen unvergesslichen Abend erleben können. Für weitere Informationen, kontaktiert bitte unsere Persönlichen Assistenten im Breidenbacher Hof, a Capella Hotel, welche Ihr unter pa.bbh@capellahotels.com erreicht.

A Visit to the Singapore Art Museum

The Singapore Art Museum is housed in the former St Joseph's Institution, originally built in 1867.

Located in the heart of the arts and culture district of Bras Basah, the Singapore Art Museum is the perfect stop for art lovers. Featuring one of the world’s largest collection of contemporary Southeast Asian art, it is easy to get lost inside just admiring and appreciating the art.

Just yesterday, I spent the whole afternoon walking through the halls of the art museum. While visiting the museum, I learned that the building was a former Catholic boys’ school, St Joseph’s Institution. Originally built in 1867 by a Catholic Father and a group of La Salle Brothers, the St Joseph’s Institution in Brash Basah was the educational home to boys here in Singapore for more than 120 years. Wanting to preserve the beautiful 19th century French architecture, the building was gazetted in 1992 as a national monument and after a S$30 million restoration project, was opened in 1996 as the now Singapore Art Museum.

The Singapore Art Museum is housed in the former St Joseph's Institution, originally built in 1867.

The Singapore Art Museum is housed in the former St Joseph’s Institution, originally built in 1867. Photo credit: Lay Leng Low (via Pinterest)

It was wonderful just walking through the hallowed halls learning all about contemporary Southeast Asian art. The art took on various forms, many were interactive mixed-medium art pieces and some were very experimental. I especially enjoyed the very interactive exhibition entitled Sensorium 360 which explores the way we use our senses to interact and understand the world. The exhibition will be on until 22 October 2014 and is worth visiting. I especially enjoyed walking through a completely darkened room surrounding by laser lights, not unlike the laser lights seen in movies like Mission Impossible. That particular installation challenged my perception of space and reality.

While walking through the museum, I imagined myself travelling back in time to the 19th century. As if I was one of the St Joseph Institution students running to class through the beautiful hallways. When restoring the museum, the architects tried to be as faithful as possible to the original architecture as possible. They even tried to replicate the old school hall to its original glory by following blueprints they found. The architects even managed to commission new tiles that matched the old original tiles exactly. No detail was too little to be left out. The courtyard, which were the old school quadrangles where the boys used to have their morning assembly and play basketball, are now spacious courtyards where guests can enjoy coffee or just the peace and tranquility the museum affords.

Two very important additions they had to include are the glass windows to ensure that all 18 galleries have climate controlled temperatures to preserve the artwork and also the reinforced concrete floors necessary to support the heavy art installations.

The Singapore Art Museum is an easy 20-minute drive from Capella Singapore. Entry is free for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents and S$10 for visitors. Our Personal Assistants would be delighted to organise a tour of the Singapore Art Museum for you. They can be reached at +65 6591 5034/35 and pa.singapore@capellahotels.com.

All About Rum at Bob’s Bar

Cuban Fever at Bob's Bar - experience three different rums

I recently learned that Bob’s Bar at Capella Singapore features some of the region’s most rare and unique rums. Wanting to learn more about Bob’s Bar’s exclusive collection of rums, I sat down with Bob’s Bar’s lead bartender Brendon Khoo who shared more about rum.

Brendon Khoo at work creating a delicious cocktail

Brendon Khoo at work creating a delicious cocktail

Can you tell me how rum is produced?

Rum is a spirit that is made from molasses, the by-product of making sugar from sugarcane.

Can you share with me about one of the more exclusive rums that we offer?

One of the rarest rums we offer is the Diplomatico Single Vintage 2000. In the year 2000, the weather conditions were just perfect in Venezuela (high temperatures during the day, cool at night, high humidity and lower than average rainfall) that created the best and sweetest sugarcane harvest in the country’s history. It was during this season that Diplomatico created this single vintage rum which is a limited edition. The harvest was so good that the rum was created from fresh sugarcane “honey” and molasses together and pot-stilled in very old copper pot stills, which produce a rum with distinctive character. After which the rum was aged as a mixture of single malt and bourbon casks, before being finished in Spanish Oloroso Sherry casks. There are not many bottles of this rum available in South East Asia but Bob’s Bar has it!

That’s amazing. What are some of the cocktails you serve that feature rum?

As a Cuban bar we try to serve cocktails that are predominantly rum-based such as Daiquiris and Mojitos which are created using white rum and Rum Old Fashioned made using dark rum.

I would love to learn more about rums. How can I do so?

We recently launched an exciting rum-tasting experience called Cuban Fever where you will be able to try three unique rums – a classic, a distilled and a premium reserve rum.

Taking place daily from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm, the team and I will share the stories and tasting notes for each rum – allowing you to fully appreciate and enjoy each rum for all its glory.

Cuban Fever at Bob's Bar - experience three different rums

Cuban Fever at Bob’s Bar – experience three different rums

If you would like to make a reservation at Bob’s Bar you can contact them at +65 6591 5047 / bobsbar.singapore@capellahotels.com or book online at here.

Discover Auriga Spa’s Sun Worshiper Treatment

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Summer is my favorite season of the year. During the summer months, my hair gets lighter, my skin gets darker, the water in the Pacific Ocean gets warmer and life in Cabo gets better.  This summer, I spent most of my time in the sun, between enjoying Don Manuel’s pool and trying some of the summer activities the Capella Pedregal Personal Assistants recommended.  But last weekend was, even for me, too much time in the sun.  I got an awful sunburn and my skin was hurting.  Luckily, Alan Navarrete, Auriga Spa Director, recommended I try the Sun Worshiper treatment at the spa that was specially designed for moments like this.

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Normally, any Auriga spa experience starts with relaxation time in the wet areas followed by a foot ritual before going into the treatment room. Since my skin was so delicate, Betty, the therapist, encouraged me to only spend time in the ice room and not the steam room, which was a great recommendation.  From there she started with my foot ritual (using cold water) and I immediately felt better.

The Sun Worshiper treatment started with cold towels on my feet and back that helped to release the tension and the burning.  Next was the hydrating full body mask to nourish my skin and activate the natural collagen in my body.  The mask included mineral-rich organic algae, luscious aloe vera, aloe vera gel (harvested from plants in Capella Pedregal’s own desert grounds) and green tea extracts, rich in antioxidants.

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Once my body was completely relaxed, the masseuse Betty gave me a mini facial with Osea’s product, Ocean Lotion, a sun repair and hydrating oil. All Osea natural products specialize in vegan skin care from the sea and are used on the rest of the body. To my surprise, the facial also included a cranial massage. By this time my mind was relaxed and my skin was feeling so much better. I have to say, because of my damaged skin, a typical massage would have hurt too much, but the softness and delicacy of this treatment was just what I needed!
Now you know, next time you spend too much time in the sun at Capella Pedregal’s pools, experience the Sun Worshiper treatment at Auriga spa, trust me, you will feel much better.