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Food For Thought – with Raffles

Friday, November 01, 2013

Food For Thought – with Raffles

November 2013 - Food and travel are inseparable companions; destinations are defined by their food, the flavours of a country are created by the local produce and native spices of the region. Wherever we go, we need to eat, so food becomes a natural pathway into a place, a tool for discovering its innermost workings.

This is why food is so central to every hotel in the Raffles Hotels & Resorts family, from East to West, old to new, Phnom Penh to Paris. In their own way, each of the hotels carves a story for itself through food, drawing on tradition, yet always looking to the next culinary chapter. Another meal; another memory.

‘Pappa’ Tuscan Tomato Soup in Paris

image19Le Royal Monceau, Raffles Paris is on a quest: to surprise and delight its guests. Innovation and creativity are part of the hotel’s DNA – and that runs right through to the food. Il Carpaccio is the only Michelin-starred Italian restaurant in Paris. Drawing on his heritage, Tuscan Chef Roberto Rispoli cooks dishes from all over Italy, using the freshest Italian produce. And his quest is to bring the real taste of traditional Italian food – the equivalent to cuisine gran’mere (or perhaps La Cocina de Mama) – to his diners. You might find Taglioni with seafood and citrus, squids stuffed with pan-fried scampis, or osso buco with Jerusalem artichokes and gremolata sauce on the menu. For desserts, famous Pierre Hermé reinterprets the Italian classics such as pannacotta tiramisu.

One dish that leaps off the menu and onto the table is the ‘Pappa’ Tuscan Tomato Soup, a sunny antipasti, or starter, with gorgeous tomato flavours lifted by fresh basil and thin slices of crispy bread. Despite its exquisite presentation in Il Carpaccio, pappa al pomodoro is as traditional as could be. Originally from Tuscany, but known throughout Italy, it was considered a farmer’s dish: it was prepared by housewives during the war who made a soup out of the leftover bread, so not to waste a crust of it. This is Il Carpaccio’s version: simple yet refined, the perfect illustration of Roberto’s mantra: “complexity in simplicity”.

“One of the Most Bespoke Classes South East Asia has to offer”

image023Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor is the first and only hotel in Siem Reap that serves - and has cooking lessons for - authentic Royal Cambodian cuisine, with some of the recipes originating from the Royal Household. General Manager Christian Sack explains:

“We’ve been given an amazing gift that I doubt many other hotel kitchens in the world could lay claim to: King Father Norodom Sihanouk gifted the recipes from the Palace kitchen to the hotel during his reign. Those recipes have been cherished for decades and used to create the two Royal Dynasty Menus which feature in our gourmet restaurant Le Grand. So much has been lost from Cambodia as a result of the country’s turbulent past, but now there is a wonderful resurgence in Khmer culture and traditional crafts. We have a duty to keep traditional Khmer Cuisine alive as well and we do that by offering the cooking classes.”

The Raffles cooking class stands out for its highly personalised approach: chefs accompany guests to the local morning markets to select produce for the lesson, before returning to cook Royal Khmer Cuisine - a starter, soup, main courses and dessert; six dishes in total. Rice is nearly a sacred component of Khmer Culture, along with fish and shellfish, both fresh from Mekong and Tonlé Sap rivers. Herbs and spices come from the hotel’s own Spice Garden. The lesson ends with lunch, where guests taste their own culinary creations, matched with wines from the wine cellar.

The elegant Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor is one of the original grand hotels of Asia, built in 1932, providing accommodation to early visitors to the beautiful and mysterious Angkor and its temples nearby.

US$ 85 per person (subject to service charge and government tax) For reservations, please call +855 63 963 888 |

Femme Fatale in Cambodia

image030In 1967 Jackie Kennedy visited Cambodia. And where else would an icon stay, but at an iconic hotel? Raffles Hotel Le Royal, Phnom Penh has been welcoming the great and the good since 1929, one of only two luxury hotels that survived the Kingdom’s recent troubles (the other is Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor, see below).

As you stand at the concierge desk there is a large black and white photo of Jackie standing up in an open car (how times have changed) waving to the people of Phnom Penh as she progresses to the hotel – where there are two abiding mementos of her stay: a cocktail and a menu.

The Femme Fatale cocktail, a brilliant red creation inspired by the First Lady’s lipstick colour was created by the barman in her honour. It is still a firm favourite in the atmospheric, colonial Elephant Bar, a delicious melange of Champagne, Crème de Fraise Sauvage and a dash of Cognac.

Guests can also channel their inner First lady by choosing the menu that was served to Mrs Kennedy. The five-course ‘1967 Heritage Menu’ includes specially chosen wines, and costs US$134.

Chinese Cheese in Beijing

image032Do the Chinese eat cheese? Except for a small number of ethnic Mongolians and Tibetans, China has no tradition of cheese making, while 90% of the country’s population are lactose intolerant: there’s no surprise that the cheese market in China is limited. But there is one man – and a herd of cows – changing that. Just outside Beijing, a herd of Holstein-Friesian cows, who arrived in China via Australia, spend their days happily grazing on green pastures, and supplying the milk essential for one Mr. Liu Yang’s vision.

Liu Yang trained in France, as an artisan cheese-maker, and is now at the helm at Le Fromager de Pekin in the capital, churning out cheese as fresh – and as good quality – as those in France. Raffles Beijing Hotel is proud to be able to offer guests these artisan cheeses, from the bestselling ‘Beijing Grey’ Camembert with black pepper crust to soft fresh white cheese, and a fragrant Beijing blue. Guests at Jaan – one of the most refined and consistent French restaurants in town – will discover the secrets of Chinese cheeses, paired perfectly with old and new world wines.

Fusion Food for a Tropical Hotspot

image034Hainan Island is China’s new tropical hotspot, with beaches that have been compared to the best of Hawaii and Australia. Here, in Clearwater Bay, on the island’s southeast coast, Raffles Hainan has just opened. With four restaurants, Raffles Hainan is the place to be – and especially Sapori, the only Italian restaurant on this fast-developing island. Sapori (‘tastes’ in Italian) brings La Dolce Vita to China, with a rustic stone and timber dining room, a charming terrace for long, relaxed meals al fresco and a menu of Mediterranean dishes and fresh seafood to complement the views over the South China Sea.

The chef in charge of the culinary magic is the highly talented young Alessandro Dal Zotto. Alessandro has spent many years studying and cooking Italian food, and this is an opportunity for him to channel his creativity into new and exciting dishes, as well as classics. Deftly using subtle combinations of local Chinese and Italian ingredients, his dishes such as Salmon and Tofu bring an exciting touch of fusion to the menu, looking and tasting incredible. Alongside Italian favourites, these Chinese & Western combination dishes are sure to put Sapori on the map and make it a “must-do” for anyone visiting Hainan.

Taal Lake Tempura in the Philippines

image036There is only one place in the world where sardines can live in freshwater: the Philippines. Endemic to Taal Lake on Luzon island, Sardinella Tawilis are a delicacy across the Philippines, and internationally. Raffles Makati has a philosophy which holds local culture at its core, and combines that culture with cuisine. As such the Chef at the hotel made certain that Taal Lake Tempura be top of the ‘Bar Chow’ menu at the Long Bar - infusing the atmosphere the bar brings from Singapore with truly local spirit.

The traditional dish is carefully crafted into an interpretation of Fish & Chips here, at once authentic and comfortingly familiar. With a light coating of tempura, the fish is kept fresh and crisp, and is served on a wooden board with the finest chips, and local malt vinegar. Taal Lake Tempura embodies the welcoming spirit of the hotel as a home away from home. Fished sustainably, the dish also supports local fish farmers and will inspire guests to visit Taal Lake itself – the third largest lake in the Philippines, and formerly the caldera of an ancient volcano.

High Tea in Singapore

image38-1There are plenty of reminders of Sir Stamford Raffles and British Colonial rule throughout Singapore, harking back to an era of timeless elegance. Perhaps this is seen most clearly in the penchant for partaking in High Tea. Food has sacred status in Singapore, and High Tea is one of the few traditions of the colonial era which has stuck, without complaint, as a self-indulgent and elaborate past-time.

Meanwhile, the city is home to a hotel so iconic that it shares its name with the city’s founder: there’s nowhere more atmospheric to take tea in Singapore than in the Tiffin Room at Raffles Singapore. A feast for the eyes and tastebuds, High Tea at Raffles takes guests on a cultural trip from the tranquillity of English tea right through to the most local flavours of South East Asia. The Tiffin Room setting is all lofty ceilings, teak tables and bentwood chairs, playing host to rounds of miniature sandwiches, fresh scones – with clotted cream and strawberry jam from England – and the finest in pastry chef concoctions to finish, each filled with local flavour. Sit back, relax, and enjoy.

A Gastronomic Stroll through the Seychelles

image040Beautiful fresh fish, spices, coconut, papaya, chilies and passion fruit – the Seychellois archipelago is bursting with wonderful ingredients and flavours, born of a fusion of African, French, Chinese, Indian and English cooking. The result is a cornucopia of tangy, sweet, rich and spicy dishes that are one of the great pleasures of a visit to these paradise islands.

With an island location, ingredients are smiling fresh and often directly from a garden or fishing boat. This is certainly the case at Raffles Praslin, where fish is bought daily from the fishermen and Chef grows his own herbs and spices. Guests of the hotel can get a first-hand insight into the local cuisine, by booking a cooking class with the Chef. Depending on the season, they will learn to prepare wonderfully creative and colourful dishes with local products. Sample dishes could be Tuna Ceviche with green papaya; Octopus Curry with crushed hot chilies, and Exotic Soufflé, scented with fresh local passion fruit.

Once cooked, the final step is to eat these delicacies at a private dinner at the Chef's Table.

Marinated Persian Feta in the Middle East

image042The dark wood and earthy tones of Fire & Ice, Raffles Dubai’s dramatic steakhouse and grill, often reminds guests of the New York Meat Packing District. The restaurant is one of the jewels in the crown of this iconic pyramid-shaped hotel - itself a social hub, with beautiful bars and restaurants and a trendy nightclub. A meal at Fire & Ice is all about a brilliant mix of atmosphere and entertainment - a stunning setting for exceptional food.

Famous for its succulent cuts of meat prepared in a variety of ways and great fresh seafood specialties, Fire & Ice has just been awarded the Wine Spectator’s 2013 Best of Award of Excellence, with a list of more than 700 wines, many available by the glass, with a dedicated award-winning Sommelier.

Voted “one of the lightest yet rich in flavour dishes ever tasted with a divine combination of cheese and watermelon” by Raffles diners, the Marinated Feta is a Fire & Ice signature dish and firm favourite; a light hors d'oeuvre packed full of flavour, combining exquisite Middle Eastern and local ingredients such as smoky eggplant caviar, watermelon, piquillo peppers and basil. The intensity of the feta cheese mixed with the smokiness of the eggplant and the fresh fruitiness and crunchy texture of the water melon, makes it a perfectly balanced and exquisite dish.

Delicious Ice Cream in Makkah, Saudi Arabia

image044Among the exquisite restaurants at Raffles Makkah Palace lies a sweet secret: The Creamery. An al-fresco ice cream parlour, The Creamery offers guests delicious and decadent treats, with custom-made Teppanyaki ice cream dishes. A personalised touch is central here, beginning with an ice cold marble slab which works as the base for a totally bespoke creation. Choose between home-made ice cream and sorbet, before selecting a kaleidoscope of toppings and creating a fusion of flavours – limited only by the imagination. This artistic, informal and fun-filled café provides a perfect hangout for all the family on the terrace, featuring a stunning view of the Grand Mosque and the Holy Kaaba. Chefs here are more like ice cream artists, whipping up a storm – and ideal for cooling down in the Middle Eastern heat.

Further information:
Vivian Koh, Senior Manager, PR & Communications
Raffles Hotels & Resorts

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