Story & photos by Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling GourmetTM
The inspiring Travelling Gourmet goes to 5 star resort hotel Capella on the island of Sentosa to taste…
MARVELLOUS Capella Chocolates and Capella’s own bespoke blend of tea specially created by the Gryphon Tea Company that is making a name for itself in the world of gourmet teas.
A flute of tea cleansed my palate for the temptations to come…
The chocolate Bon Bons feature intrinsically and iconically true-blue Singapore flavours! Nyonya inspired Kueh Lapis Spice with Coffee & Prune Jelly, Raspberry Lemongrass with Chilli Padi (my favourite! I always like some spice in my life…), Kalamansi Ganache, Blueberry-Violet Ganache & intriguing Black Truffle Ganache. The charming chocolates were matched with winsome wines from around the world selected by Sommelier Gabriel Danis. I loved Raspberry Lemongrass with Chili Padi made with Cacao Barry Madagascan chocolate whose aromatic tangy flavour enhances the fruity raspberry as it melds with the sourish lemongrass nuances. A really refreshing Gewueztraminer, Wintzerheim Domaine Zind Humbrecht 2004 from the Alsace region of France that has 10-12 g’l of residual sugar brought out the flavours while moderating the spicy chilli notes on the end palate. Hints of roses and lychees from the wine added further exciting aromas. Did you know that the ancient Mayans enjoyed their chocolate with chilli without sugar? On my extensive travels in Italy, I have also tried chocolate with pepperoncino (chilli)!
The next Bon Bon I tried was Blueberry-Violet Ganache. Blended with Oropucce dark chocolate and Lactee Superieure milk chocolate. Hand crafted with fresh blueberries and perfumed with violet extract which costs S$400 a bottle, the nutty notes balance the acidity from the berries. Pastry Chef Sam who worked at the Ritz Carlton San Francisco for 12 years before joining Capella explained, “I created this to be…a happy fruity chocolate for children!” Australian Shiraz is known for its jammy plummy charcteristics and black pepper. The wine matched with this was Shiraz Jester Mitolo from McLaren Vale in South Australia. Its combination with the Bon Bon brought out flavours of ‘frutti di bosco’ (forest berries) and smooth tannins at the finish.
Truffles are prized and coveted by gourmets for their amazingly inspiring and appetizing parfum and Chef Sam’s next creation was a ganache with tiny morsels of Black Truffle! A pinch of salt added a savoury dimension to this delightful titbit which on the palate reminded me of the classic Bechamel Sauce spiked with Truffle! This chocolate creation is made to be slowly savoured and enjoyed while you meditate on the true maning of life…A lovely amber coloured wine from Toscana in Italy was a good partner with its flavours of mocha coffee and caramelised pecan nuts. Vin Santo Felsina 2001 also has that oxidised character which is typical of Vin Santo, made during the Holy Month by drying the Malvasia grapes for many weeks before making the wine.
In between tasting wine and chocolates, I tried my hand at making the chocolate Bon Bons from dipping the square-cut chocs into liquid tempered chocolate at a constant 30 to 32C, tapping them to remove excess chocolate, and then laying them down ever so gently. Finally, I placed the decoration in the form of transfers made with sugar and cocoa butter very gently on top. Really FUN!
Inspired by Nyonya cuisine, Kueh Lapis Spice with Coffee and Prune Jelly had a gummy, chewy texture and is made with puree of prunes made into a paste. The spice and coffee are very subtle. A 10 year old Cockburns Tawny Port with coffee and dried nuts on the nose and a brownish rose hue when tasted together with the chocolate gave rise to cherry flavours.
Delicate Yuzu, the celebrated Japanese citrus fruit blended with hazelnut and Favourites Mi-Amere had pleasing bittersweet nuances and a crunchy but not too brittle texture due to the dried pancake bits. I adore the crunchy texture of this Bon Bon. Paired with Courvoisier 12 year old Borderies Blend Cognac the spicy finish was intensified.
Last but not least was Kalamansi Ganache. Kalamansi is Tagalog for lime and is widely used in Malay/Indonesian cuisine to marinate fish & to give acidity to Sambal Belachan sauce. I closed my eyes…bit into the BonBon to taste fresh cut lime. Alto El Sol dark chocolate adds acidic and nutty notes. With Don Julio Reposado, a 100% double distilled Blue Agave Tequila, the combo was harmonious as the classic smooth Tequila and Lime drink. A match made in heaven. Lim Tian Wee, Founder of Gryphon Tea introduced his Constellation Tea. This is an exquisite blend of the rarest white tea from Darjeeling with Muscat grapes, rose hips and orange blossoms. Edible GOLD dust is another ingredient which gives it that mysterious glimmer in the jet black cup in which it was served. Capella comes from the name of the brightest star in the Auriga Constellation. A pleasant sweet and sourish sensation can be enjoyed when the chocolate is savoured with the tea. Chocolates always remind me of the South American government official who shall be nameless who explained, “I can be bribed, try chocolate…”
Chef Sam says: You always cook with an open mind! I agree! Guten Appetit! Remember: When the going gets tough, the tough eat chocolate!
The Capella Chocolate Collection comprises 24 pieces of hand crafted, preservative free, all natural chocolate Bon Bons with unique flavours nestled securely in a bespoke case that can be reused as a decorative jewellery box. It takes a lot of skill and hard work to make so only 5 boxes can be made per day! You can purchase from S$128++ from the Capella Singapore from 10 July 2012. Please see http://www.capellahotels.com/singapore/dining-en.html. I recommend them as perfect gifts for birthdays and anniversaries!
Capella Constellation Tea is available in Cassia, The Knolls and Bob’s Bar of Capella Hotel at S$14++ per pot from 10 July 2012.
1 The Knolls
Singapore 098297 www.capellasingapore.com
Tel: 6377 8888