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

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

The Vintners’ Tour 2012

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.

Getting To Know Capella Singapore’s Gabriel Danis

Famous author and lover of all things French, Julia Child, once declared, “Wine is one of the agreeable and essential ingredients of life.”  Indeed, these words could not ring more true for Capella Singapore’s new Restaurant Manager and Sommelier of The Knolls Restaurant, Monsieur Gabriel Danis.

Originally hailing from Roanne, a commune in the Loire region in central France, Gabriel has spent just over 14 months in sunny Singapore.  Indeed, it is fitting that coming from one of France’s most renowned wine regions – he is now half-way round the world sharing his passion for French wine.

Starting from a humble beginning in 1995 as a commis waiter in Troisgros, a world renowned three Michelin-star restaurant in France, Gabriel learnt all the basic skills of fine dining service at the highest level.  Since then Gabriel has continued to grown restaurant knowledge, working in premier locations throughout the world.  During that time, Gabriel developed a special passion for wine and in 2000 he earned the highest level of certification in wine education from Wine & Spirit Education Trust.

Wanting to learn more about wine, I followed Gabriel around to observe his duties and walk in the shoes of a wine sommelier for a day.  Apart from running wine tasting information sessions and offering expert advice and service to guests, Gabriel also manages wine procurement, wine storage, and wine cellar rotation.  Working along with Capella Singapore’s culinary team, Gabriel has also created wine pairing to complement each and every dish.

After an interesting afternoon, the charismatic and gentlemanly sommelier left me with three useful tips to for even the most novice wine lover:

  • Don’t be shy to ask the restaurant to pack up your wine bottle, especially if it is one that you thoroughly enjoyed. Remember to keep the label!
  • Decanting is not always necessary, as the wine will get plenty of air in the larger wine glasses while we swirl.
  • If you do not own a wine refrigerator, find a place in your house which is dark with a fairly constant, moderate temperature.