When it comes to dinner, you have three types. The first is what you eat when you are in a rush: picture grabbing a few bites from whatever is in the fridge as you rush out to whatever you have to be at. The second is what you usually eat on a regular day: some people cook at home, others get zichar in, it all varies. And the last type is when you decide: “okay, today’s a special day to splurge”.
The last one deserves some attention today, because we often are at a loss for options. Where do we go, that is truly special, when the occasion calls for it? If I’ve gone to this restaurant annually, is it really all that special? Perhaps the key then, is to look at things that don’t repeat, in locations that are not quite the easiest to get to. If memory making is all about being unusual, perhaps those looking for a weekend to remember this weekend (2nd and 3rd June) have quite the option.
Enter The Knolls, at Capella Singapore. Those who have been there will know that it’s not quite the easiest of places to get to: you’ll have to make your way past the Sentosa bridge into the island, and then find it tucked away discreetly behind fairly impressive greenery. But we’re setting the bar for “special” here rather high, so don’t settle.
Now that ambience and location is squared away, consider the food. Just for this weekend, The Knolls is hosting the Spanish Gourmet Extravaganza. Which means that if you wait, you’ll only tempt fate. The Extravaganza is a travelling culinary event that moves around the globe: first starting in London, and before Singapore, Dubai. It’s in town for four days only, but this weekend’s your chance to sample the works of Spanish Michelin-starred chefs Yayo Daporta and Rafael Centeno, along with the glorious company of the father-and-son sommeliers Luis and Alejandro Paadin.
With the details out of the way, let’s have a sneak peek at what’s on offer.
First up, the Jamon Iberico Ham from Joselito. The Extravaganza serves the Jamon Iberico Bellota De Pata Negra Gran Reserva Joselito 48 Months. If you don’t speak Spanish, like me, that’s some of the finest Iberico ham made from black pigs slow-aged for 48 months in the mountains of Salamanca. Iberico ham is a treat in itself, but Joselito’s ham distinguishes itself through a nutty flavour that can only come by letting the pigs eat as much acorns as they would like. Sliced extremely thinly, the flavour shines through in the fatty bits as it melts in your mouth. Sweet, savoury and a whole host of other complexities right there, in your mouth.
Glazed Spanish Pork Ribs with Apple Chimichurri. Eat with your fingers, you’ll thank me for this tip when you lick them clean.
If you’re more a tapas person, looking for small bites, I also enjoyed the Glazed Spanish Pork Ribs with Apple Chimichurri. While not especially meaty, this was quite the treat because of how the glazing let the natural flavours of the pork rib shine through by itself. Often, ribs are done with a lovely sauce, which is all fine and good, but you do lose a bit of the light sweetness. Here, the apple chimichurri’s flavours just about complemented the natural sweetness of the pork, a welcome change from the usual palate assault when it’s drenched in sauce.
Marinated Spanish Presa Pork with Herbs Salad: a thin cut of pork that is well-marinated with sherry vinegar.
Another item to try would also be the Marinated Spanish Presa Pork with Herbs Salad: it’s a tender pork cut with sous vide egg yolk in the middle, complemented with a subtle smokiness from the paprika used. Light notes from the sherry vinegar used to marinate the pork cut round off the palate, making this an extremely balanced bite of meatiness that is still refreshing.
Chef Santi Almuiña’s paella: this is the sea, if the sea came in the form of paella.
Call me old fashioned, but a highlight of Spanish cuisine for me has always been paella. Chef Santi Almuiña’s rendition here was quite the experience for me. Using the perfect pearls of Spanish bomba rice, he’s created a visually stunning dish that elicited gasps from around the table when it was brought in. I spooned a mouthful in once they served my portion, and boy, the incredible flavour of the rockfish broth he used transported me right to the sea immediately. The shellfish used was fresh (of course, how could it not be), and each mouthful had just the right mix of rice and shellfish. I rarely do this, but I asked for seconds.
Chocolate Ganache with Cocoa Streussel and Chocolate Ice Cream: this is how you confuse a chocolate-lover. With all sorts of textures, and all chocolate.
To end it off, dessert was served: a Chocolate Ganache with Cocoa Streussel and Chocolate Ice Cream. If that’s confusing, you’re not alone. Essentially, this is a dish all about presenting chocolate in as many forms and textures as possible. Bite into your first spoonful, to feel the soft chocolate ice cream (and the popping candy) swirl around your tongue, then the salt Streussel’s crunch takes over. And at the end of it all, the dependable luxury of the ganache rounds out the mouthful: ah, this is how a chocolate addict gets high.
The Extravaganza has various events: bring a date you really want to impress (or even better, your life partner who definitely deserves it) to the Exquisite Flavours of Spain, running at Cassia, only from 6:30-10:30pm on the Saturday, 2nd of June. Priced at $200++ per person, dinner features a 6-course menu with a separate premium Spanish wine pairing option available.
Or if brunch is more your thing, there’s A Taste of Spain brunch from 12:30-3:30pm on Sunday, 3rd June, at The Knolls. $198++ per adult for a free flow of Taittinger champagnes, Spanish wines and beers, or $168++ if you prefer not to indulge in the alcohol. Kids 7-12 years old go for $78++, while the 4-6 year olds get in for $48++.
Ultimately, if you want to make it special, why not? Here’s your chance.
Thank you Capella for the invitation.
This article was written by Lan Yingjie.
EXQUISITE FLAVOURS OF SPAIN
Date: 2 June 2018, Saturday
Time: 6:30pm to 10:00pm
Dinner (6-course menu): S$200++ per person
*Wine pairing option is available
Join Michelin-starred chefs, Chef Yayo Daporta and Chef Rafael Centeno as they present their signature dishes, paired with premium Spanish wines presented by the father and son duo, sommeliers Luis and Alejandro Paadín.
A TASTE OF SPAIN BRUNCH
Date: 3 June 2018, Sunday
Time: 12:30pm to 3:00pm
Venue: The Knolls
S$198++ per adult with free flow of Taittinger champagnes, Spanish wines, Spanish beers and non-alcoholic beverages
S$168++ per adult with free flow of non-alcoholic beverages
S$78++ per child (7 to 12 years old) with free flow of juices and soft drinks
S$48++ per child (4 to 6 years old) with free flow of juices and soft drinks
Savour authentic Spanish delicacies at the live food stations helmed by all invited Michelin-starred chefs, Tapas and Paella chefs. Toast to free flow of Spanish wines and beers and spend your Sunday afternoon amidst Spanish live music.