Friday, June 4, 2010

Sweetspot @ Marina Bay Sands

Marina Bay Sands is the latest hype in Singapore, be it its infrastructure, dining and not forgetting the casino. Although most of the shops are not opened but it sure stir alot of curiousity among the local.

Located at the lobby of tower 3, this pastry shop has attracted me with its modern style decoration. With no sit-in for their cakes, there are stands for customers to enjoy a cuppa or 2. Not a bad deal as there is no 10% service charge. Have to admit that the choice of mirrors, metal and stone provides a nice comtemporary ambience to people-watch.

Sweetspot @ Marina Bay Sands

Executive pastry chef Alekandro Luna provides a wide selection of bread, chocolates, cakes and pastries and the presentation of all is indeed a visual treat. Having grew up in a Venezuelan cocoa plantation, it is no surprise to spot the chocolate sculptures and chocolate bonbons.

Individual cakes for the day

Somehow or rather I just don't have luck with chocolate cakes that are widely publicised for varying textures. Deste has ceased production with individually sliced Candle cake and I didn't see Sweetspot's signature, the Chocolate Paradigm Cake.

Screening through the selection for the day, it seems that chef Alekandro Luna focus alot of combining varying flavours in a single creation. Over here, there aren't the regular chocolate mousse nor strawberry cake. Instead, fruit purees, cheese, yogurt and liquor are the common ingredients in various creations.

Nougat Torte

Nougat Torte ($8.80+) is highly recommended by one of the staff (as her favourite) and is also known to be the chef’s version of a snickers bar. With a light mousse (not sure is it suppose to be vanilla or nougat, i.e. the flavour is not distinctive however Yuan said that it tasted like almond) and a chocolate cake base that resembles a soft brownie or cookie dough. This is generally light on the palate (can be bland to those who has strong taste). The textures of both layers are good and the overall is not too sweet. I am neutral to this and would say its plus points are the toppings (peanuts, caramelized crumbs and chocolate mousse).

Rum and Raisin Cheesecake

Rum lovers like Yuan love this while non rum drinkers like me will be put off by the bitterish, alcoholic content.

Rum and Raisin Cheesecake

Enclosed in a white chocolate (with peanuts), the rum cheesecake ($8.80+) is very light and has a texture close to a mousse. The rum-soaked raisins provide a good alcholic kick while the sponge provides a neutralizing sweet taste to the overall. A favourite of Yuan.He added that this could be a good alternative to the tiramisu especially for those that don't like coffee or chocolate.


The flavours of Sweetspot's macarons ($2.50+ each) are closer to fruity and green tea, pink guava and mango caught my attention. Among all the sweets, this is a disappointment as the shells are merely crumbly and sweet. The flavours weren't strong and the overall taste is closer to a sweet biscuits, lacking the chewy interior.

Sweetspot to a certain extent is worthwhile trying, given its exquisite choice of ingredients and given how much Yuan likes the sweets for the afternoon, pretty sure we will blog about it again. Apart from the sweets, Yuan mention that this is one of the rare place to obtain a cheap Caramel Ice Latte ($5+) and flavoured sodas are charged at $3.40+. Apart from cakes, I bought back some bread and these hard European breads, in particular the parmesan cheese, leave a deep impression.

Marina Bay Sands Hotel
10 Bayfront Avenue
Lobby Level, Tower 3
Singapore 018956
Tel: 6688 8588

Operating hours: 7am to 10pm (daily)


Stargirl said...

i haven't been to sweetspot but the place could really do with some seats...

ice said...

fen, you know how I feel about this place. I think too much gelatin is added in the cakes rendering your rum cheesecake mousse-like. Same problem in the mousse layer in Nougat Torte, I thought there's too much gelatin in there.

No 10% service charge but the cakes are pretty expensive.

Fen said...

Stargirl: True, I was quite disappointed that I cannot laze around with some sweets, considering it was a chore to go to MBS (at the moment). The seating areas at the hotel lobby looks so pleasant...

Ice: I am ok with the texture of the cheese but the bitterish taste is too much for me to stomach... I guess you are pretty right on the gelatin, the cakes are still solid despite equilibrating at RT while taking the photos.

taster said...

Some comments on the different types of desserts.

Desserts that contain mousse are usually after-meal desserts so they are light and can be bland to remove the aftertaste of the meal(chocolate mousse is stronger). A good example of an after-meal dessert is the moist and light Tiramisu, which actually does not have to be strong-tasting at all.

Depending on the meal's volume and aftertaste, desserts with different levels of flavor are eaten. Desserts that look moist, cold and easily digestible are usually after-meal desserts compared to the ones that look dense and heavy that are eaten as standalone desserts like in afternoon tea. But of course you don't have to always eat according to this rule.

I wonder if the fruity macarons are also meant as after-meal desserts.

BTW, mini mono cakes at Cova Paragon are at $2 each instead of $6 only on June 9th.

Fen said...

In my opinion, most have a favourite flavour and be it served before or after meals, this is often compared based on overall and intense of the taste. To obtain a rough idea of eating according to the rule, I think pairing or course meals will have to come in picture, which is not practised by many.

According to the interview done by j2k3blogs, Chef Alejandro Luna uses home made jams instead of buttercream, so it works either way. Fruits goes very well after meals since they are not exceedingly rich and is slightly tangy. However, the macarons are sweet and crisp which is something I don't like. Fails to bring out the goodness of a macaron. The flavours are good but not the texture.

Also quoting from j2k3blogs, it seems that Nougat Torte alot lighter in taste when compared to Chef Alejandro Luna's creations. Some (for instance, the staff who served me that afternoon) loves this for its light texture while others (like me) finds it good for its minimal sweetness.

I doubt I will be able to drop by Cova today... Have been busy these weeks, nevertheless, thanks for the information.

From all the talks about Sweetspot, I think I am curious to try the Chocolate Paradigm and Carrot Muscovado Cake. The tiny bit of chocolate mousse on Nougat Torte does impress.

ice said...

fen, I didn't try the fruit-flavored ones but those macarons I had were ganache-filled. They weren't sweet & I thought they were quite strongly flavored. Perhaps you could try the ganache-filled ones should you drop by SweetSpot again.

taster said...

I think the reason why fruit macarons are crisp is due to the acidity in the fruit puree plus the fruit sugar. The acid reacting with the alkaline in the egg white acts like baking soda, helping the batter to dry out and the sugar to crystallize. These could cause crunchiness in the fruit macarons. I used to taste a passion fruit macaron with brittle crunchiness too. Perhaps it is inevitable that macarons with real fruit extracts are brittle and crunchy?

No worries if you are not too impressed with the Nougat Torte, I only pointed it out because it looks adventurous. It reminds me of the exciting qualities found in Toshi Yoroizuka's desserts in Tokyo.

Fen said...

Ice: Will do. In fact, I have the intention to pop by Sweetspot given how much Yuan likes the cakes. The only thing that is stopping me is the hassle to go MBS.

Taster: This doesn't strike me as the fruity macarons from Laduree does not have this effect. In fact, the moist, meaty core is still present in Laduree macarons. If that is the case, the filling might not be optinum since Laduree's filling is alot more in terms of quantity and moisture.

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying I am not impressed by Nougat Torte. In fact, I was pointing out to Yuan and the staff at Sweetspot that the combination and choice of ingredients is very different from the regular patisseries. I am fine with Nougat Torte but I have a feeling I may like their Chocolate Paradigm and Carrot Muscovado Cake more.

No worries, it is a good recommendation. The reason why I took so long to visit Sweetspot is that I was recuperating at home while you drop the message. :)

By the way, any idea how the Boulangerie at Resort World, Sentosa is like? I passed by the last time round but wasn't feeling hungry to feast.

taster said...

Maybe the fruit macarons are made with less almond powder(they don't look very milky), which means less oil and less moisture. Or, they could be dry because they were baked in small portions, or the temperature of their new oven could be too high.

I have not heard much about Boulangerie at RWS. I read on the net that their pastry chef is Alain Herber, who was also mentioned to be from St Regis. He could have moved there? But I don't think they could beat St Regis' Brasserie Les Saveurs in terms of ingredients.

Fen said...

I am not sure about using less almond powder, it may be possible considering the low water content of egg whites and that icing sugar gives crisp texture.

I doubt the problem lies in the temperature of the oven as I have tried baking macarons at higher temperature. If so, the shells will appear burnt with a moist core. Given the lovely colours of the shells, doesn't seems to be the case.

I have been to Brasserie Les Saveurs once and I felt that the dining atmosphere was very stressful, moreover, the desserts are pricey and limited in selection. Sad to say, the 2 we had were not to our liking.

Pretty surprised to hear that St. Regis has a pastry chef since they do not serve any buffet (excluding the high tea buffet served on Mondays to Wednesday) and that the hotel has no patisserie. Yan Ting seems to be more heard of in St. Regis.

taster said...

Yes, maybe the cornstarch in the icing sugar could seriously affect the macaron's texture, and make it less resilient to the oven's temperature.

Check this out:

"Steudler recommends storing almond flour in the freezer, and drying it on a cookie sheet for 24 hours before using it. Try to find confectioner's sugar without cornstarch added, he says."

The characteristic that stands out from the famous French macarons is their thick circular ring of bubbled crust at the bottom. If one can achieve this, surely they could taste like the famous macarons made in Fance.

St. Regis has a pastry chef for their English+French Afternoon Tea on thurs, fri and sat, which now comes with tea dance. They also have macarons.

You said the dining atmosphere there was very stressful? Because of the tai-tais?

Fen said...

I don't store almond flour in freezer since that is the depot for frozen meat.

I have tried drying the almond flour but it didn't solve the problem, given the humidity in Singapore. As for drying it in a slightly warm oven, it didn't work for me either as the secreted oil clog my sieve.

As for confectioner's sugar without cornstarch, this is something I am not very sure since cornstarch prevents the icing sugar from clumping. Whatever the case, I am using SIS icing sugar and it seems ok for me.

I guess checking the weather forecast will not make too much of a difference unless I install the air-conditioning unit in Singapore. As you have pointed out previously, our room temperature is way beyond the optimum and the humidity in Singapore is... oh well...

Talking about the macaron feet, it really drove me crazy during my macaron baking spree. From my experience, even baking paper plays a role in getting it right. I recall staring at the oven like a kid waiting for exams results and when the feet grew beautifully, I literally jump in joy.

Oh, didn't know the afternoon tea is from Thurs to Sat, I thought it used to be from Mon to Wed and since I need to take leave to enjoy their afternoon tea, I have decided to give it a miss.

I went to St Regis 2 years back when they are opened not long. I realize the staff does selective greeting to their patrons. I don't feel welcomed in their premises and they aren't very keen to answer me when I asked for their patisserie or bakery in the hotel.

Dining at Brasserie Les Saveurs seems very out of place for me since we were only there for desserts and I recall leaving the hotel pretty awkwardly. This is something I don't experienced when I am at Shangri-la and Ritz Carlton, there is this unfamiliarity and foreignness about this place which I experienced when I am in St. Regis.

taster said...

You can try drying the almond flour by leaving it in a dry aircon room or put it in a airtight container with a moisture absorber?

The afternoon tea used to be on every day but has been reduced because of the low numbers.

I have heard of people(Indian tourists) complaining of selective treatment at St Regis in the papers a while back. But I think it should have improved. Of course the staff are in the wrong and inexperienced. Good service staff should never behave in a snobbish manner, but should assist customers with their service.

Service staff are not even rich themselves. So if they try to act like they are on par with the tai tais and rich expatriates, we have to slap them back down to earth.

Thousand-dollar plus a month staff trying to act like they have millions in the bank with high social status? Such fakes are truly laughable. They should realize they will never be on par with the customers. I think such snob-acting staff are also a little low in intelligence because they really don't have a clue how society really works.

I'm sure you are even more well-paid than any of the service staff at St Regis. If you face any rude staff from there in the future, just tell them how much you earn a month and give them the taste of how low they really are on the social ladder. And don't forget to complain to the management to get them fired. This is a must otherwise they will never learn who they are really serving.

Fen said...

Noted with thanks.

Not sure if silica gel is safe to be kept with foodstuff. My experience with a moisture absorber is either silica gel or desiccators used in laboratories.

Anyway, I understand where you are driving at. When I encounter unpleasant service, I don't confront them in the public but rather I drop feedbacks via the hotels and eateries' channels. If I received a reply, I will continue to patronise them but if they choose to ignore it, I will boycott them since they don't bother in improving their services.

As for St. Regis, I doubt I will pay a second visit since I am one who don't appreciate fine dining. If I really do, that is when I have the spare cash to spend. =)

taster said...

Small packs of silica gel can be found in those Japanese snacks, so those should be safe.

St Regis compared to other hotels and restaurants around the world is not really that fine, the place actually is really small. To me, the afternoon tea ambiance there feels similar to Four Season's, which actually has more elegant deco overall.

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