The Joy of Chocolate
By RG Davis
A chocolate buffet unlike any other, The Chocolate Bar at Marina Bay Sands brings out the kid in you while catering to your penchant for the finer things in life.
It’s a warm night as usual in Singapore and guests are refreshing themselves in the pool on the Sands SkyPark – an architectural marvel longer than the height of the Eiffel Tower, seated atop the three Marina Bay Sands hotel towers. Two hundred metres below them, lasers from the hotel’s Wonder Full light and water show dance on the surface of the marina’s waters to an orchestral soundtrack. Watching the show, swimmers peer over the side of the infinity pool, the largest of its kind at this height. It looks like they might float off the edge of the earth.
But this splendid view is just a precursor to the evening’s delectation. Walking alongside the pool, I continue toward The Club at Marina Bay Sands, which is transformed to the Chocolate Bar every night at 8 P.M, an indulgent buffet inspired by everyone’s favourite ingredient – chocolate.
In The Chocolate Bar, chocolate lovers from across the globe congregate around the desserts artistically curated by Executive Pastry Chef Ryan Witcher. Cautiously perusing the 57 chocolate-inspired delights, mouths begin to water, smiles crack and fingers start pointing, until it’s too much to hold back any longer…Like children in a chocolate factory, everyone dives right in.
Some start at the donut station, where fresh, hot donuts are made-to-order and plopped into your own brown paper sack. Choose one out of 10 different sugars ranging from traditional chocolate or vanilla to popular green tea or the odd black pepper. Dump a heaping spoonful of sugar into your bag, shake it up and enjoy. “It’s kinda like you are back at the carnival,” says Witcher, whose spirited approach toward dessert inspires the whimsical flavours of Chocolate Bar.
?This chocolate buffet is a journey of texture and taste with the highest quality chocolates and fine ingredients prepared with artful sophistication and craftsmanship…
But you won’t find any tummy-aching, cotton candy-sugary sweets here. This chocolate buffet is a journey of texture and taste with the highest quality chocolates and fine ingredients prepared with artful sophistication and craftsmanship – in a light-hearted and jovial way, of course. Chef Witcher has mastered the technique of marrying sweet and savoury tastes to produce unexpected and surprisingly sensory tasting experiences, such as lavender whipped ganache served on a demitasse spoon. Light and airy, the fragrance gently touches the palate, only to vanish a moment later. Another fragrant favourite is the thyme infused chocolate praline…who would think that one bite of this tiny, chocolate would suddenly inspire visions of open fields and fresh herbs. Such successful combos eliminate any preconceived notions that herbs like thyme only belong in meat or pasta sauce recipes.
“They’re unexpected,” Witcher says. “You know the flavour’s profile but you don’t know exactly what you’re getting until you taste it. That’s what we want, is to make something that teaches people and gets them out of their comfort zone. ”Then this is learning through enjoyment. Fanciful displays of pralines piled high on giant Valrhona dark chocolate blocks juxtaposed by M&M’s in vases help set the candyland scene in a chocolate-lover’s dream come to life. While another corner exhibits teeny-tiny waffle cones filled with Earl Grey whipped ganache, banana and passion fruit cream, topped with a raspberry and a touch of chocolate Pop Rocks at the bottom of the cone – “Just enough to make it fun and playful,” adds Witcher.
The desserts are beginning to disappear nearly as fast as they are replaced. A bouquet of light pink lollipops is still up for grabs. One bite of the pop unleashes the vibrancy of wild strawberries and fresh basil for a refreshingly crisp, sweet and savoury combo that’s never overly sweet or overly pungent.
The seemingly decadent, light yet lush, chocolate caramel apple cake is balanced with caramelized apple resting on a lightweight green apple mouse with a chocolate breton base. Slice by slice it disappears. Time to move on to the richer, comforting, deep cocoa indulgences like warm chocolate soufflé cake or the salted caramel tart filled with dark chocolate ganache and sea salt caramel, topped with crunchy, chocolate coated beads. Finally, after savouring the evening’s yummies, it’s time to relax and savour the lavish view with a glass of champagne while a light breeze blows on a very clear night, 57 floors up.