Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hilton Seafood Brunch

Our 3rd visit to Checkers Brasserie and from now till 16 October 2011, Checkers Brasserie introduces a new theme to their Sunday Brunch, The Seafood Sunday Brunch.

Seafood on ice

For those who are familiar with Hilton Hotel's buffets, one will know about their Friday's Seafood Buffet Dinner. While the Friday's Seafood Buffet Dinner focus more on the fish market, this Sunday Brunch offers not only a luxurious seafood on ice including fresh oysters, mussels, clams and Alaskan king crabs but also a series of hot food which includes a wide array of live stations, presenting seafood hot dishes, prepared a-la-minute.

While more players emerge with buffets priced affordably, Hilton Hotel decided to take a different approach by introducing more live stations. Apart from the brunch items (e.g. Raclette cheese, Japanese teppanyaki, sashimi and sushi, pan-fried Foie Gras and famous roasts such as the Leg of Lamb and Veal) they have introduced previously, the hotel aims to share with their diners some of the more uncommonly seen items such as the Northern Indian street food, Tawa, Iberian ham, Scrambled Egg with Vodka, Pasta prepared by the crew from the hotel's poolside Italian restaurant, il Cielo.

Indian "Tawa" Station

Although the layout of Checkers Brasserie does not permit many live stations, credits have to be given to Indian Cuisine Chef Santosh to introduce Tawa, a Northern Indian street food prepared using convex disc-shaped metal griddle.

With your choice of vegetable or meat (Chicken, Mutton or Prawn), Chef Santosh uses his home-made spices to prepare the curry according to one's preference. According to Chef Santosh, preparing the curry on the spot retains the aroma of the spice in the curry which would otherwise fade with time.

Served to your table, the splendid bowl of curry is perfect with piping hot naan bread (Cheese, Garlic or Plain), making this station one of the main highlights of this buffet.

What we like about the freshly made naan is the "clean" taste unlike some with a "smokey" and charred finishing. In addition, the naans are of a good thickness and are not overstretched.

Cheese naan is soft and chewy, well-stuffed with cheeses while the garlic naan outshines with its garlic buttery herb toppings.

Foie Gras & Iberian ham

Sunday brunch at Hilton Hotel would mean a bigger spread for Kaspia Bar (which is located outside Checkers Brasserie) opens up to cater more selections.

Unlike the regular Sunday brunch that features Mediterranean food and roasts, this section of the buffet now houses several live stations, featuring Chinese-styled prawns freshly prepared upon order, Seafood Paella, Italian pasta and risotto prepared by the chefs from il Cielo.

I first fall in love with the hotel's risotto when I had it at the Christmas Media Event last year and since then, it has been the best one I have ever come across. In fact, I briefly made a comparison with the ones I had in Italy and have not found one that second to this. The smooth and rich cream-textured base with al dente grains easily earns a mention for this buffet. This station also features Iberian Ham shaved on the spot and a selection of pastas prepared in various style upon order.

Brunch will not complete without eggs and unlike the regular omelette and poached eggs served in most brunches. One can expect Volka in the scrambled eggs. Topped with caviar and sour cream, this is indeed something different.

Grilled Foie Gras has become a permanent feature at Hilton's buffet for its popularity with the diners. Served with balsamic and chips, the foie gras is nicely seared with a meltingly core, making it one of the better ones which we have eaten so far.

Seafood Paella

Seafood Paella, also available on the Friday Seafood Buffet, is another station that deserves a shout out. As mentioned in my previous post, one can expect this to be extremely flavourful with just the right amount of Australian Mussels, Squid and Prawns. Like the risotto, what I like about the Seafood Paella is that the rice is not exceedingly soft nor mushy.

Chinese-styled prawns

Live Drunken Prawns in XO Chinese Wine and Large Prawns with Salted Egg are the highlights of the Chinese station. These are prepared upon order and the freshness is of no doubt for the live prawns are kept in a tank and cooked upon ordering, ensuring the prawns serve to be at its freshest.

Flamed Duck

Black Pepper Flamed Duck is another new introduction to the buffet.

Abalone, Scallops and Cod

As mentioned in my post on Hilton's Sunday Brunch, the hotel uses slow cooking to prepare their meat and the famous Leg of Lamb and Veal are available at the craving station.

Senior Chinese Chef Aw Yeong also showcases his specialities in this buffet which include 48-hour Braised Baby Abalones and Baked Cod with Fried Ginger and Caviar. While the baby abalones are succulent and juicy, the baked cod is slightly sweetened with a crisp seared exterior.

Rum Baba

Rum Baba is the highlight for the desserts. Using a dry dough sponge which is cooked in butter, sugar and orange juice, this dessert is subsequently flambé with the rum. This caramelized dessert has a nice orange tang that finishes with a strong doze of rum.


The selection of desserts, though small but memorable. The hotel makes it a point to present a selection of delicate creations to allow their guests to try the sweets that are not sold at Checkers Deli. For instance, the lemon tart has more sugary crumbles in its tart base while the Strawberry Cheesecake is a lighter variant than the ones available for take-aways. In addition, one can also expect the popular mille-feuille and is often the first dessert to run out.

Checkers Brasserie offers a very unique selection of seafood dishes and to make sure the food is served at its best, the hotel has introduced several hot stations to ensure the food to be served at its freshest. Despite being the third visit to Checkers Brasserie, there are a few items which are my must-haves and I will never mind the multiple helpings, which includes the Raclette cheese, Risotto, Seafood Paella, Roasts, Pan-fried Foie Gras and desserts such as the signature Chocolate Mousse and Cheesecakes.

It has been a wonderful Sunday afternoon to be able to dine with Marketing Communications Manager, Ms. Joyce Moo and we would like to thank her for her time and the complementary meal.

Sunday Seafood Brunch Buffet
Available from now to 16 October 2011, every Sunday from Noon to 3pm.

$85++ per person (with free flow of juices)
$110++ with free flow of wine / 3 glasses of Louis Roederer Champagne
$160++ with free flow of Louis Roederer Champagne
$35++ for children aged 6-12 years

Citibank Cardmember gets to enjoy a one dines free for every 3 paying adults for the Sunday Brunch from now to 16 October 2011.

Checkers Brasserie
Hilton Singapore
581 Orchard Road
Singapore 238883
Tel: 6730 3390
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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Pastry Demonstation by Chef Stephane Glacier

This September, Executive Pastry Chef Alejandro Luna of Marina Bay Sands is partnering with world renowned artisanal Pastry Chef Stephane Glacier to bring about a series of chocolate signatures.

Chef Stephane Glacier
Note: The entire set of photos for this post is done by my daddy

A quick introduction, Pastry Chef Stephane Glacier was awarded the prestigious Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF) in 2000, making him the Best Pastry Maker in France. In addition, he owned Patisseries et gourmandises located at the fringe of Paris in Colombes (66 rue du progres, 92700 Colombes, France) and a school "patisseries et gourmandises, l'école (20 rue rouget de l'isle 92700 colombes) for amateurs and professionals.

If Paris is out of reach for the time being, his five chocolate-themed desserts, which are served at Patisseries et gourmandises in Paris, are available at three Marina Bay Sands eateries, The Chocolate Bar, Sweetspot and Rise, the buffet restaurant.

Pastry Demonstration of Felchlin Products

Apart from being able to try some of Chef Stephane's signatures, we were elated to receive an invitation to Chef Stephane's Pastry Demonstration. This demonstration focus on the use of Felchlin Chocolates, a Swiss-based chocolate-maker which uses some of the world's finest and rarest chocolate in their production.

Chef Stephane Glacier's book and creations

Setting aside the technicalities of single origin chocolate, Chef Stephane provided a sampler portion of a freshly-made Chocolate mousse made of Felchlin Maracaibo 65% during the course of the demonstration. The initial taste of the chocolate mousse leaves a distinctive milk aftertaste, which I would labelled it as a strong characteristics of Swiss Chocolates and in general, very balanced, light and pure in its taste.

Felchlin Chocolates from Switzerland

I may not be a baker myself and don't deny a lack of culinary knowledge but the style of Chef Stephane focus mainly on the use of very basic components such as hazelnut to introduce crispy into chocolates, fruits for some tang in his summer creations, sometimes coffee to bring out the quality of the chocolates used. From making the chocolate mousse to chocolate glaze, it was an eye-opener to see Chef Stephane making the various components of his creations and assembling the cake live.

Chef Stephane in action

Chef Stephane shared with us the use of Italian meringue to make his signature pastry, macarons; this type of meringue is generally stable and resistant to mixing using a electric mixer. In addition, he also recommends the use of silicone mats for it will not absorb moisture during the course of baking, thereby maintaining the shape of the shells.

In addition, Chef Stephane is also a man of humour for he relates the application of chocolate glaze to applying make-up. The more rounds one attempts to smooth the glaze using a palette knife, the more smudges one can expect from the chocolate glaze.

Some other tips include the importance in boiling cream and raspberry puree separately for acidity of fruits will break down the cream during boiling. The pointers he gave goes on and on and I am simply astonished by the speed he worked at and also the knowledge he has in every step of pastry making.

Hazelnut Croustillant Bar with Blood Orange Sorbet

While Pastry Chef Alex of Marina Bay Sands consistently pushed the boundaries with each creation, Chef Stephane tends to keep his creations simple to bring out the quality of the chocolates.

The above is the Hazelnut Croustillant Bar with Blood Orange Sorbet and what is splendid about it is the use of
  • Praline Croustillant to give a crispy crunch,
  • Hazelnut Dacquoise for a soft nutty texture,
  • Praline cream for a hazelnut aftertaste to create the "noisette" effect,
  • Maracaibo Chocolate Mousse and Gianduja Chocolate Glaze for the finishing oomph factor.
The overall texture is so velvety smooth and that the chocolate sheets used in the decoration of this cake is paper-thin that melt on the tongue, allowing the palette to take in the diversity of aromas slowly.

Le Petit Antoine

Le Petit Antoine (a bigger individual sliced is sold at $9.10 at Sweetspot) is a creation Chef Stephane has been making for the past 15 years and is acclaimed to be his best seller. Similarly to the Hazelnut Croustillant Bar, it contains the Praline Croustillant and Hazelnut Dacquoise as its base but instead uses the Maracaibo Cariolait 38%. The use of this chocolate allows one to enjoy the full-bodied milk taste with subtle note of honey and caramel, which is a strong characteristic of Switzerland chocolates (in general).

Similarly to the Hazelnut Croustillant Bar, the beauty of this lies in the extreme thinness of the chocolate sheets and its ability to diffuse the chocolately goodness rapidly across the palette.

Chocolate Tart

Chocolate Tartlets (sold at $6.00 at Sweetspot) is outstanding in its pate sablee pastry dough. The crispy sweet crust with the smooth and rich blend of Maracaibo Cariolait 38% and Maracaibo 65% makes every bite an addictive one and once again, the tart finishes off with Chef Stephane's signature chocolate sheet.

More of his creations

Chef Stephane firmly believes that a good macaron does not only lies in the shells but also the filling and using caramel filling in his macarons, the chewy texture of the filling does bring out another dimension of textures in his macarons.

Praline Tendresses (as shown on the right) is also available at Sweetspot for $6.00.

With Chef Stephane & Chef Alex

It was fabulous to be able to spend an afternoon with two world-class pastry chefs, Pastry Chef Stephane Glacier and Executive Pastry Chef Alejandro Luna.

Many thanks to Executive Pastry Chef Alejandro Luna for his warm hospitality and time to share with me his passion and concepts in his pastries. Also our heartfelt thanks to Communications Officer, Ms. Venetia Chung for the invitation to this wonderful chocolate event at Marina Bay Sands.

As mentioned earlier, this is an exclusive collaboration between both Chocolatier Masters and one can expect an exquisite chocolate event from now till the end of September 2011.

Guests can experience a new array of confectionery at the Chocolate Bar, available nightly from 8pm at The Club at Marina Bay Sands.
Website for the Chocolate Bar

During the day, chocolate lovers can enjoy the indulgent bites at Rise Restaurant or pack home these exquisite works of art from SweetSpot.
Website for Rise
Website for SweetSpot

For more information on Rise Restaurant and the Chocolate Bar, please call +65 6688 5525 or +65 6688 8858 respectively.
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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Marina Bay Sands Snowskin 2011

Dark Chocolate Orange Grand Marnier & Salted-Caramel Almond Crunch

Just when we thought we are done with mooncakes for 2011, we received a complementary box from Marina Bay Sands (MBS). For snowskin, there are only 2 flavours available - Dark Chocolate Orange Grand Marnier and Salted-Caramel Almond Crunch. As MBS does not have a Chinese restaurant, the mooncakes come from Sweetspot, the hotel's European Espresso, Bakery and Dessert Bar. Sweetspot is helmed by talented pastry chef Alejandro Luna who has worked in various pastry kitchens in America and Europe.

Chef Alex wants to create a signature for MBS - a flavour which you will associate with MBS just as you would associated Champagne Truffle with Raffles Hotel. Chef Alex feels that one of the best combination is to combine chocolate with orange. I am not a fan of fruity flavors with chocolate but I personally feel that the ratio is just right for this mooncake. The taste of the chocolate is retained but at the same time, you can feel the orange. Further there are chocolate bits which adds some crunch to the chocolate ganache.

These mooncakes were consumed after a chocolate event at MBS and having ate several creations made from Switzerland Chocolate, Felchlin. The quality of the chocolate used in these mooncakes continues to wow and this is of no doubt made from good quality chocolates.

Those who like salted caramel should try the Salted-Caramel Almond Crunch. The caramel is smooth and not too sweet. The outer layer contains almond which is similar to eating the almond snickers bar but the buttery goodness lingering in the palette.

Marina Bay Sands Singapore Mooncake Packaging 2011

Marina Bay Sands probably has the most elaborated mooncake box for 2011. Designed by Chef Alex himself, this box will certainly impress friends and relatives. With a tiffin-like container housing the mooncakes, this entire thing fits into a lattern-like packaging with a Chinese knot suspending it, making it a perfect decoration for this festive event.
MBS Mooncake 2011

Many thanks to Executive Pastry Chef Alejandro Luna and Communications Officer, Ms. Venetia Chung for the complementary box of mooncakes.

Marina Bay Sands Pte Ltd
10 Bayfront Avenue
Singapore 018956
Tel: 6688 5668
Website for Sweetspot
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