Celebrate 50 Years: 6 Unique Singapore Experiences

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 11.41.12 pm

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

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 11.41.12 pm

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

Singapore Symphony Orchestra  Palm Valley

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

item_1.thumbnail.carousel-img.740.416

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

lz005b_grande

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

BB

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

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

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.

6

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.

 

Discover The Wellness Retreat at Capella Singapore

15. Sunrise Yoga

I love exploring the furthest corners of the world.  However, very often, I find myself returning from a vacation feeling like I need another one to recover from the first.  So after all the excitement of New Year, Valentine’s Day and Lunar New Year, I finally decided that it was time to take a quieter sort of vacation.  I checked myself in for Capella Singapore’s new Wellness Retreat.

The retreat began with a private consultation with a dietician, and a wellness dinner at The Knolls.  I was fully expecting ‘rabbit food’, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that beyond a tasteless plate of greens, I was treated to a Thai Beef Salad, Baked Cod Fish with Olive Mozzarella Crust and Homemade Tiramisu – all nutritionist approved.  They tasted delicious, and left me feeling less lethargic than usual.

Baked Cod Fish with Olive Mozzarella Crust

Baked Cod Fish with Olive Mozzarella Crust

Day Two began bright and early at 7:30am with a personal training session with multiple Manhunt Singapore winner, Jovin Koh.  Jovin discussed my fitness abilities and goals with me before putting me through a series of weight resistance and intensive cardio exercises that gently tested my personal limits.

After ‘paying my dues’ at the gym, breakfast and lunch were rare treats. The highlight of the day however must have been the spa session at Auriga Spa.  The herbal steam room, ice foundation, vitality pool and 90-minute Shiatsu massage were uniquely revitalising.

By Day Three, I didn’t even need my alarm clock get up in time for sunrise yoga at 8am.  My body was so well rested that it didn’t scream for more snooze time.  Going through the gentle yoga postures also helped me discover a newfound sense of balance and well-being.

15. Sunrise Yoga

I emerged from the retreat feeling more than five years younger and absolutely radiant.  I also scored useful tips to embark on a lifelong journey towards healthier living. Here are five detox tips I learnt from senior therapists of Auriga Spa Amapola Nazareno and Chang Huang Mei.

GET REAL – Avoid processed food as they are packed with chemicals and preservatives. Pick real and whole food, whenever possible.

DECAF – Avoid drinking too much coffee and black tea – these stimulants dehydrate the body.

REHYDRATE – Drink up to 2 litres of water daily. Keep a bottle on your desk so you won’t forget.

BRUSH UP – Use a body brush in the morning to stimulate lymphatic circulation and drainage.

SUPPLEMENT – Natural supplements can help your body cope with a hectic and stressful lifestyle. Vitamins, antioxidants, probiotics and other superfood sweep away harmful free radicals and flush out toxins to keep your body in tip top condition.

To find out more about Capella Singapore’s Wellness Retreat or making reservations, please dial +65 6591 5000 or email reservations.singapore@capellahotels.com.

 

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.

Chicken And Lobster Ravioli At The Knolls

Chicken And Lobster Ravioli

Starting the first of April, The Knolls got a brand new menu, specially designed by our new Executive Chef, David Senia. It has been very exciting to have Chef Senia on the team, not just because of his vast years of experience that he brings to the kitchen but also his friendly and cheerful personality which brings much life to the kitchen at The Knolls.

Part of the exciting tasks leading up to a new menu launch is the tastings and food shows. Watching the chefs at work skillfully plating each dish is almost like watching a work of art come to life. Next up is the tasting of the food. One of the signatures on the new menu is the Chicken and Lobster Ravioli.  This is a unique dish because it is served with a light citrus sauce, giving it a mildly tangy flavor, which perfectly complements the savory elements.

And what better way to celebrate the new menu than with the recipe for Chicken and Lobster Ravioli?  Now admittedly, this recipe is a bit labor intensive.  So if it is too much for you, then please stop by The Knolls and allow our chefs to prepare it for you!

Chicken And Lobster RavioliIngredients:

Ravioli-
700g  Lobster
700g  Foie gras
500g  Celeriac
300g  Chicken breast
1tbs  Olive oil
White pepper & salt (to taste)
50g  Chicken stock
100g  Ready-made Pasta dough

Ragout-
100g  Shallots
1  Lemon skin
1  Orange skin
1  Tomatoes
100g  Olive oil

Method:

For The Ravioli-
-Remove the lobster from the shell, keeping the head and the shells
-Blend the lobster, foie gras and chicken breast in a food processor until smooth
-Add in the olive oil and mix well. Season with salt & pepper
-Roll out pasta dough and make ravioli with the lobster and chicken stuffing
-Keep refrigerated until needed

For The Ragout-
-Dice the shallots and tomatoes
-Cut the orange and lemon skins into fine slices and blanche in water to remove the bitterness
-Combine shallots, tomatoes, orange and lemon skin, with the olive oil and mix well

For The Sauce-
-Roast the lobster shells in a pan until fragrant
-Add in the chicken stock and reduce until it begins to thicken
-Add a touch of cream and season with salt & pepper
-Strain and keep aside until needed

To Serve-
-Blanche the readymade ravioli in a salted boiling water for about 2 or 3 minutes until cooked
-Add the cooked ravioli into the sauce and braise, until the sauce coats the ravioli
-Divide the ravioli into pasta plates and pour the sauce over
-Drizzle the ragout on top

 

Voila!  Enjoy this beautiful Chicken and Lobster Ravioli!