Capella Singapore’s Peranakan Experience

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!

Una Vista A La Fábrica De Vidrio

Vivir en Cabo significa tener no solo el beneficio de disfrutar las playas, sino también de disfrutar la ciudad. Me encanta explorar y conocer a los diferentes artistas y artesanos que conforman nuestra comunidad. Uno de mis sitios favoritos es la Fábrica de Vidrio, la cual vende hermosos objetos de vidrio soplado.

La fábrica de vidrio abrió sus puertas en 1990 y fué por muchos años la única fábrica de vidrio soplado de la península. Visitarla a lo largo de estos años ha despertado mi curiosidad acerca de esta forma de arte. Me entrevisté con el dueño Sebastián Romo, quien me explicó un poco acerca de la historia y proceso de soplar el vidrio.

El vidrio fue descubierto alrededor del año 2500 A.C., pero no fue sino 200 años después que la gente comenzó a soplar el vidrio. Los primeros ejemplos de vidrio soplado que hay en Norte América vienen de Puebla, México en 1535 por artesanos que llegaron de Europa durante la colonia Española. La expresión artística se desarrolló y el vidrio soplado es ahora considerado una de la artesanías típicas Mexicanas.


El vidrio soplado auténtico tiene una especie de pqueña marca o ‘cicatriz’ en la parte baja del objeto. Esta marca indica que la pieza fue soplada libremente. Esta marca se produce cuando el soplador termina de moldear una pieza en particular, y corta el vidrio caliente del tubo que sirve para soplar el vidrio.

La fábrica de vidrio emplea 30 artesanos los cuales producen diario cerca de ¡500 piezas únicas! ¡Es verdaderamente algo que prescenciar! Por supuesto si tienes la oportunidad de hospedarte con nosotros, tu Asistente Personal con mucho gusto organizará un tour para tí.

Romance in Singapore

In Singapore we do not celebrate Valentine’s Day Once- but twice.

While the Western Valentine’s Day is recognized in Singapore, we also celebrate the Chinese version.  It falls on the fifteenth day of the Lunar New Year, which this year happens to be Februrary 6th.  In my earlier blog post about the Chinese New Year Celebration I mentioned a little about the Chinese Valentine’s Day, but I thought I would take a closer look at it now.

As I previously described one of the central traditions involves single women throwing mandarian oranges into the water to be collected by potential suitors.

But where does the excitement and lore come from?

Historically, it was only on the fifteenth day of the Lunar New Year that unmarried women could go out into the streets (accompanied by a chaperone).  Many young men would gather in the hopes of catching glimpses of these lovely maidens. The legend holds that there would be a “matchmaker” from the moon who would be watching and would tie red strings of destiny on the legs of compatible couples. Incidentally, because of this legend, matchmakers in the past were traditionally very busy on this day in hopes of pairing couples.

So, if you are looking for love, be sure to go out in public on the 6th.  You may just meet you destined partner!

Tamales On Candlemas Day

Through my writings in the past you may have learned that Mexico is full of religious festivities and family celebrations.  Here, in fact, Christmas celebrations are not over yet; they conclude on February 2nd, when we celebrate another important holiday: Candlemas day.

Candlemas falls forty days after Jesus’s birth, and is celebrated by Catholics as the the “Feast of Purification” or as the “Presentation of Christ at the Temple.”  In Mexico we celebrate this day by going to the church and then gathering with family and friends.

Tamales are a traditional Pre-Columbian Mexican dish.  In Mexico we have over 200 different varieties of tamales.  Back in the day they were cooked with sweet chile, tomato and seeds, mixed with beef, turkey, pheasant and quails.  Today some are sweetened with molasses, others spiced with mole.  Some are plain, others filled with meats or vegetables.

In its essence, tamales consist of masa (a type of starchy corn dough) that has been wrapped in leaves, then steamed or boiled.  Some come bundled in cornhusks, others in plantain or banana leaves.  My favorites are tamales with huitlacoche (corn smut), with chicken in a green sauce, corn tamales, and tamales with potatoes.

Tamales require hours of preparations.  My family would gather for ‘tamaladas,’ and everyone contributed to the cooking process.  All that teamwork helps explain why tamales are a synonymous of family, love and holidays.

I wish you a wonderful Candlemas day.  Enjoy your tamales!  And please don’t forget to tell me which are your favorites!

Tamales Del Día De La Candelaria

A través de mis artículos pasados han visto que México tiene muchas fiestas y celebraciones familiares. Aquí, de hecho, las celebraciones navideñas no han terminado; concluyen el 2 de febrero, cuando celebramos otra fiesta importante: el día de la Candelaria.

La Candelaria se celebra 40 días después del nacimiento de Jesucristo, y es recordado por los Católicos como la “Fiesta de la Purificación” o como la “Presentación de Cristo en el Templo”. En México celebramos este día asistiendo a misa y después reuniéndonos con la familia y amigos.

Los Tamales son un platillo precolombino tradicional en México. Hay 200 tipos de tamales. Anteriormente eran cocinados con pimiento, tomates y semillas, mezclados con carne de res, pavo, faisán y codornices. Al día de hoy algunos son endulzados con saborizantes y algunos condimentados con mole. Algunos solos y otros rellenos con carne o vegetales.

En esencia, los tamales consisten de masa de maíz envuelta y posteriormente hervida al vapor. Algunos se hacen envueltos en hojas de maíz y otros en hojas de plátano. Mis favoritos son los tamales de huitlacoche (hongo del maíz), los de pollo en salsa verde, y los tamales con papa.

Los tamales requieren de horas de preparación. Mi familia se reúne en “tamaladas” y todos contribuyen en el proceso de cocinarlos. Todo ese trabajo en equipo explica por que los tamales son sinónimo de familia, amor y fiesta.

Les deseo un maravilloso día de La Candelaria. Que disfruten sus tamales, y no olviden decirnos cuáles son sus favoritos!


Changing Tides: The Shark Fin Controversy

American author, Aldo Leopold once wrote, “conservation is a state of harmony between men and land.”  Recently it has become clear that this quote also applies to the sea and its occupants.

Over the past couple of weeks, our local Singapore news has focused on the controversy of serving and selling shark fins.

Historically, Chinese have considered shark fin one of the eight treasured foods from the sea.  Fins were seen as a noble and precious commodity—fit for the tables of the emperors.  Because of the association with luxury and wealth, shark fins are traditionally served only at important events.

However, the shark population has suffered a rapid decline.  With more than 73 million sharks killed each year (mostly for their fins) many of the species are facing extinction.

As a result, many shops and restaurants have announced their ceasing to sell sharks fin as part of efforts towards environmental sustainability.  Capella Singapore is also offering alternative to the Shark Fin Soup.  Among the options are Braised Bird’s Nest, Braised Superior Dried Seafood Broth and Double-boiled Abalone Soup.  In addition to offering these alternatives, we are also offering incentives for those who select these options.

I hope that our contribution will help to maintain the very fragile balance of life in our seas.  Tradition is nothing if we can’t find a way to live in harmony!


Photo Credit: ©Conservation International/photo by Emilie Verdon