A Look Back: The Capella Ixtapa Sabor + Vino Festival 2014

Bittersweet chocolate, bed of peanuts and cocoa, Cotija cheese meringue, xoconostle (a fruit of prickly pear cactus) foam, coconut cotton and a reduction of jamaica and passion fruit.

They say the way to a person’s heart is through the stomach.  And if you haven’t fallen in love with Mexico yet, our Capella Ixtapa Sabor + Vino Festival, would have you in head over heels, guaranteed!

Sabor + Vino 2014, which we held this past May, was Capella Ixtapa’s first culinary festival, and with the amazing feedback we received from our guests and visitors, I can promise you it won’t be the last!

Sommelier Lucian Mocanu and Chef Miguel Baltazar from Capella Ixtapa, with Guest Chef Carmen Valencia and Chef Ramiro Ortega.

Sommelier Lucian Mocanu and Chef Miguel Baltazar from Capella Ixtapa, with Guest Chef Carmen Valencia and Chef Ramiro Ortega.

“This region of Mexico has so much to offer gastronomically, offering an authentic Mexican cuisine experience.  We gathered well known chefs from different towns within the region to participate in festival Capella Ixtapa Sabor + Vino 2014, which established a sense of pride and honor, as we presented diverse traditional Mexican dishes, combined with exquisite Mexican wine and spirits for all attendees, complemented with a wonderful culinary event.  The feedback we received was fantastic, and I hope to see you all again at Capella Ixtapa’s Sabor + Vino 2015!” said Eliezer Quinones, General Manager of Capella Ixtapa.

The Capella Ixtapa Sabor + Vino Festival ran over two weekends in May, and featured Guest Chefs,  Carmen Valencia, Ramiro Ortega, Karla Chápero, Jesús Ordoñez.  Hosted by Capella Ixtapa’s Chef Miguel Baltazar, guests were delighted by appetizers based on regional cuisines, cocktail events, cooking classes, two exquisite 7 course wine pairing dinners and a special breakfast where each of the chefs prepared their own signature breakfast dish.

Bittersweet chocolate, bed of peanuts and cocoa, Cotija cheese meringue, xoconostle (a fruit of prickly pear cactus) foam, coconut cotton and a reduction of jamaica and passion fruit.

Bittersweet chocolate, bed of peanuts and cocoa, Cotija cheese meringue, xoconostle (a fruit of prickly pear cactus) foam, coconut cotton and a reduction of jamaica and passion fruit.

Sabor + Vino 2014 was an incredible experience,” said Chef Miguel Baltazar.  “Four different culinary minds came to Capella Ixtapa with the same objective; to satisfy the palate of our guests, surprise them with the magnificent flavors and show them the best of their cuisine.  It was a great pleasure having them with us and creating the first edition of Capella Ixtapa’s culinary festival together.  For me personally it was also a magnificent opportunity to create, innovate and practice with these amazing Chefs for the Chef of the Year in Mexico contest, at which I will be participating in June, and representing the colors of Capella Ixtapa and our region.  Some of the unforgettable dishes from the festival for me were jack fish with black radish, scallops tiradito, jicama fruit infused with beet and mezcal, cocoa with meringue of salt from Zihuatanejo, and crystallized nopal.”

You can see more photos from the festival here, and mark your calendars for May 2015, for the next Capella Ixtapa Sabor + Vino festival.  Our team is already hard at work planning next year’s festivities!

Old World Spice And Wine At Capella Singapore


This August, it’s all about spices at Capella Singapore.  I am very excited as we prepare for the Old World Spice and Wine Tasting Experience happening from the 29th of August through the 1st of September.


One of the things I am looking forward to is to try the cuisine of our guest chef, Meryem Cherkaoui.  Chef  Cherkaoui  is a Moroccan chef, who has spent many years in France perfecting the exquisite French cooking techniques and incorporating the flavors of Moroccan cuisine.

Having visited Africa once on a holiday, I can well attest to the vibrant flavours and aromas that arise from all the exotic spices used in their cooking.  As such, I am truly anxious to savor the flavors of Morocco made with the intricacy and delicacy of the French kitchen.

Old World Spice And Wine Event At Capella Singapore

The other person I am very excited to meet at the Old World Spice and Wine Tasting Experience is Nora Gasparini, a perfumer who specialises in creating bespoke perfumes and fragrances for people.  Nora is based in Bali, which is home to the exotic scents also used by prestigious beauty brands such as Hermes and Dior.  I was thrilled to learn that she was no stranger to these exclusive spices and also uses them in her work.

What is particularly exciting about Nora is that, in line with the gourmet spice and wine event, she is bringing a selection of spice infusions created from edible spices.  Imagine being able to create your own special perfumes from ingredients in the kitchen!

One of the main highlights in the series of events is the Old World Spice and Wine Tasting Experience taking place throughout the grounds of Capella Singapore on Saturday the 31st of August from 11:30am to 5:00pm.  Chef Mereyem, together with the chefs at Capella Singapore, will be creating different stations featuring tapas made with spices from various parts of the world.  These tapas will also be paired with a selection of 26 rare Old World wines.

To add to the festivities, Nora will also have a station set up where she will be able to do personal consultations on creating unique scents and perfumes for each person.

Old World Spice and Wine at Capella Singapore is definitely an event to look out for.  I am eagerly waiting in anticipation for all the four days of exciting and epicurean adventures.

If you are interested in learning more about the event, please contact The Knolls at +65 6591 5046 or email knolls.singapore@capellahotels.com.  Hope to see you there!ND

Meet Juan Carlos Flores, The Best Sommelier in Mexico

Best Sommelier In Mexico

I might seem biased to claim that Capella Pedregal’s Wine Director Juan Carlos Flores is the best sommelier in Mexico, but that is actually the title that Mexico’s Wine Association awarded him with!  I met with Juan Carlos just a couple of days after he returned from the World’s International Sommelier Competition in London, where he represented Mexico and finished in semifinals!  Yes, he is that good!  Despite his flashing awards, Juan Carlos is very humble, pleasant to talk to, and very passionate about what he does.  Here is my interview with Juan Carlos about his passions and plans for Capella Pedregal’s wine program:

Best Sommelier In Mexico

Welcome back from London!  I would love to hear about your trip.

Thank you!  It was very exciting and challenging. This is my third time representing Mexico at the World’s International Sommelier Competition, and as each time, I loved being surrounded with world’s best sommeliers.  I am so honored I get to compete with legends— many of whom were my teachers when I was still in school.  It was a great honor and an amazing experience.  I am already preparing for the competition in 2015 where I am aiming for the finals!

How did you find your passion for wine and how did it become a career?

Originally I studied hotel management in Mexico City, and during my last 6 months of school we started having wine classes, which I loved.  I received a scholarship to work in Monte Carlo, Monaco, where I noticed that the Food & Beverage area of the hotel was among the most important functions.  We worked the most important events in town—from Formula 1 to Tennis Monte Carlo.  We even provided special services for Prince Rainier and Princess Caroline!  I realized then that I wanted my engagement in hotel industry to be where the action is, not in the background.  But it wasn’t until I worked at the 3-star Michelin restaurant Le Louis XV, that I developed a true passion for wine and decided to pursue it as a career. 

What does it take to be a successful sommelier?

I believe you have to have a passion for terroir— that is the elements that reflect the characteristics of a specific place.  You have to have a passion for tasting and smelling different aromas.  My passion is not only for the wine itself, but for all the aromas – be it wines, coffee, teas, food or perfumes!  My other passion is travel, so I always try to explore new and different wine locals.

What are your plans for Capella Pedregal’s wine program?

Our guests are both well traveled and have discerning palates.  I love talking with them and sharing wines that they have tasted on their trips to Europe, South America or in the States.  I am dedicated to building a wine selection with wines from the entire world.  I also make an effort to surprise them with some wines they may not be as familiar with.

I heard you are working on an exciting and new experience for our guests. Can you tell me more about it?

Absolutely!  You probably know that the more the wine breathes, the better it is.  That is why I am preparing a wine list with recommended breathing times, so for example when you make your dinner reservation, you can already choose the wine, and on the basis of your choice we will open the bottle at the recommended time, so that when you come for dinner, the wine is already at its optimal taste.  Our Executive Chef Yvan Mucharraz and the team will help us pair that bottle of wine with food as well.  This is something completely new in the industry, and I am looking forward to introducing it to our guests and hearing their feedback on it.

What would you recommend to our guests who would like to pair their wines with food when dining at home?

Think of wine as just another ingredient of a meal.  If your food is missing acidity, don’t add it to the food itself, but complement the dish with a more acid wine.  The vertebral column of wine is its acidity.  A well-balanced acidity is very important, it brings freshness and cuts the fat.  Never discard any wine until you taste it with food.

FInally, how do you choose your wine, and what other beverages you like besides wine?

I choose the main bottle of the night based on the day, the company, and the occasion, but I always recommend starting the evening with a glass of champagne.  Besides wine I love drinking beverages with great aromas, like coffee, tea, tequila, single malts, and I enjoy preparing different versions of gin and tonic.

Thank you Juan Carlos!

It is my pleasure!

Conoce A Juan Carlos Flores, El Mejor Sommelier En México

Best Sommelier In Mexico

Posiblemente seré tendenciosa al asegurar que Juan Carlos Flores, Director de Vinos de Capella Pedregal es el mejor sommelier en México, sin embrago ese es exactamente el título que que la Asociación Mexicana del Vino le otorgó sólo algunos días después de que volvió del Concurso Mundial de Sommelier Internacional en Londres, donde Juan Carlos representó a México y llegó hasta las semifinales!  Así es, el es así de bueno! A pesar de sus reconocimientos y premios, Juan Carlos es muy modesto, agradable, y muy apasionado de su profesión. Aquí les presento mi entrevista con Juan Carlos acerca de sus pasiones y los planes para el programa de vinos de Capella Pedregal:

Best Sommelier In Mexico

Bienvenido de vuelta de Londres! Me gustaría escuchar cómo te fue en tu viaje.

Gracias! Fue un viaje muy emocionante y un gran reto para mí. Esta fue mi tercera ocasión representando a México en el concurso World’s International Sommelier, y como las veces anteriores, me encantó estar rodeado de los mejores sommeliers del mundo. Me siento tan honrado de poder competir con leyendas del ramo -muchos de ellos incluso fueron mis profesores cuando aún estaba en formación. Fue un gran honor y una experiencia inolvidable. Ya me estoy preparando de hecho para la competencia del 2015 donde quiero llegar a las finales!

Como es que encontraste tu pasión por el vino y como es que se volvió tu profesión?

Originalmente estudié administración hotelera en la Ciudad de México, y durante mi últimos semestre tuvimos clases de degustación de vinos, las cuales me encantaban. Recibí posteriormente una beca para trabajar en Monte Carlo, Mónaco, donde me di cuenta que el área de Alimentos & Bebidas del hotel estaba dentro de las funciones más importantes. Trabajábamos para los eventos más importantes en la ciudad -desde la Gran Premio de Formula 1 hasta el torneo de Tennis de Monte Carlo. Incluso dimos servicio para el príncipe Rainier y la Princesa Carolina! Me di cuenta entonces que quería relacionarme en las actividades del hotel donde está la acción y no tras bambalinas. Pero no fue hasta que tuve oportunidad de trabajar en el restaurante Le Louis XV con tres estrellas Michelin, que pude desarrollar una verdadera pasión por el vino y decidí perseguir esta profesión.

Que se necesita para convertirse en un sommelier exitoso?

Creo que necesitas tener pasión por el terruño -ese es el elemento que refleja las características de un lugar específico. Debes tener una pasión por probar y oler diferentes aromas. Mi pasión no es sólo por el vino en sí, sino por todos los aromas -ya sean vinos, café, té, alimentos o fragancias! Mi otra pasión es el viajar, así que a donde voy siempre estoy tratando de explorar nuevos y diferentes vinos locales.

Cuáles son tus planes para el programa de vinos de Capella Pedregal?

Nuestros huéspedes tienen tanto un paladar educado como un sin fin de experiencia en viajes. Me gusta hablar con ellos y compartir vinos que ellos hayan probado en sus viajes por Europa, America Latina o en los Estados Unidos. Estoy dedicado a juntar una selección de vinos con vinos representativos de todo el mundo. Así también estoy haciendo un esfuerzo por sorprender a nuestros huéspedes con algunos vinos con los cuales probablemente no estén familiarizados.

Escuché que estas trabajando en una nueva y emocionante experiencia para nuestros huéspedes. Me puedes decir un poco sobre esto?

Claro que si! Probablemente ya sabes que mientras mas respira un vino, mejor es su sabor. Es por esto que estoy preparando una lista de vinos con tiempos recomendados de oxigenación, para que por ejemplo al hacer tu reservación a cenar, ya puedes elegir el vino, y basados en esto podemos abrir la botella con el tiempo recomendado, para cuando te sientes a cenar el vino esté en su punto optimo de sabor. Nuestro Chef Ejecutivo Yvan Mucharraz y todo el equipo nos ayudarán a maridar esa botella de tu elección con la comida perfecta para ella. Esto es algo completamente nuevo en la industria, y no puedo esperar a ver la reacción y escuchar los comentarios sobre esto de parte de nuestros huéspedes.

Que les podrías recomendar a nuestros huéspedes que quieren maridar sus vinos y alimentos en casa?

Que piensen en el vino como otro ingrediente de la cena/comida. Si a su comida le falta acidez, no se la añadan a la comida, sino que complementen el platillo con un vino más ácido. La columna vertebral del vino es la acidez. Una acidez bien balanceada es muy importante, añade frescura y elimina las grasas. Nunca deseches un vino hasta que lo pruebes con alimentos.

Para finalizar, cómo es que eliges tus vinos, y que otras bebidas disfrutas además de los vinos?

Elijo la botella principal de la noche basándome en la fecha, la compañía y la ocasión, pero siempre recomiendo iniciar la velada con una copa de champagne. Además del vino me encantan las bebidas con fuertes aromas, como el café, el té, el tequila, la malta, y me encanta también preparar diferentes versiones del gin & tonic.

Muchas gracias Juan Carlos!

De nada, es un placer!



The Vintners’ Tour 2012

Capella Nature Day 2-16s

These few weeks have been very exciting for me as we head into the yearend and prepare for the much-anticipated Vintners’ Tour 2012.  I’m thrilled because Capella Singapore will be hosting this huge event showcasing more than 20 winemakers.

Needless to say, over the course of these few weeks, I’ve been learning much about wines that I had not known before.

What is interesting about The Vintners’ Tour 2012 is that all the visiting winemakers are all old world winemakers.  Old world wine regions include Italy, France and Spain.  Such winemakers focus on traditional winemaking techniques and the wines created in these regions are generally earthier and more tannic.  New world wine regions include countries such as Australia, Canada and the United States.  Such wines are made with new technology and usually tend to be fruiter.

Another area that I learned about is the growing attention to the term “biodynamic wines” by wine enthusiasts.  Loosely defined, the term “biodynamic” refers to an agricultural philosophy, which focuses on creating a balanced ecosystem in the vineyard.  This practice combines well with the traditions of old world wines and in fact, many of the winemakers attending the Vintners’ Tour are employing biodynamic practices.  In this spirit, there will be a master class on biodynamic wines at Capella Singapore during the Vintner’s Tour 2012.

The Vintners’ Tour 2012 begins today, November 22nd and runs through the 25th.  In addition to the class on biodynamic wines, there will be other several other master classes as well as a series of dinners with Two Michelin Starred Chef Jean Andre Charial from the very famous l’Oustau de Baumanière in Provence, France.  I am also looking forward to the wine treasure hunt, which takes place on the 24th and is sure to be loads of fun!

Carles Tejedor And The Art of Olive Oil


Just last week, Capella Singapore played host to One-Michelin-Star Spanish Celebrity Chef and olive oil specialist, Carles Tejedor of Via Veneto in Barcelona. I have to say that it was hands down, one of the most educational weeks I have ever had.

Personally, besides the usual olive oil dip for my bread roll when I dine at any western restaurant, I have never been much of an olive oil connoisseur. Needless to say, this olive oil filled week has left me a little more cultured in the art of olive oil appreciation.

Before his cooking stints began at The Knolls, Chef Carles was kind enough to allow me to organise a little media workshop on manipulating the textures of olive oil, granting us a little peek into his world.

The workshop was off to an interesting start with Chef Carles boiling olive oil with some gelatin to create a sort of paste – that kind that you could use as an all natural hand cream but edible and appetizing at the same time.

Next up was the olive oil caviar – olive oil that is shaped and textured exactly like real fish roe, right down to the “pop”. Adding to the surprise, he added a drop of Sesame oil to the olive oil caviar, an idea he picked up from coming to Asia.

The final treat of the day – Olive Oil Jelly. While definitely intrigued, I had my reservations at the thought of olive oil and jelly. However I stood corrected. To my pleasant surprise, the slightly chewy yet smooth texture of the jelly gave off a gentle fragrance from the olive oil with a mild sugary aftertaste

Here Chef Carles let us in on a little secret – in order to make the olive oil jelly, one must ensure that the gelatin and sugar mixture was the same viscosity as the olive oil. Then only can the ingredients bind well together.  Olive oil jelly was a technique he took months to perfect.

To close the chapter on the evening, Chef Carles left a little parting gift for us – a recipe for Olive Oil Gummies.


  • 150 g extra-virgin olive oil
  • 7 g xanthan
  • 7 g garrofin
  • 320 g glucose
  • 160 g sugar
  • 35 g water


  1. Combine the olive oil, xanthan and garrofin. Blend together with a hand blender.
  2. Combine the olive oil mixture with the rest of the ingredients in a cooking pot. Bring to a boil, blending with a hand blender to create a homogeneous mixture.
  3. Working quickly, add this mixture to a pastry bag. Pipe the mixture into cornstarch molds, pinching the bottom of the pastry bag to release each large drop of the gummy mixture. Try to make as little contact as possible between your hands and the gummy mixture, as it is very sticky. Also, it is advisable to wear a double (or triple) layer of gloves, as the mixture is very hot.
  4. Cover the molded drops with more cornstarch. Allow to sit overnight at room temperature. Remove gummies and brush off excess cornstarch.
  5. Gummies can last up to 5 days at room temperature, and 2 weeks in refrigerator.