Thalias Hospitality

We at Thalias Hospitality Group are proud to announce a remarkable achievement

We at Thalias Hospitality Group are proud to announce a remarkable achievement: Topaz Restaurant has been selected in the 50 Best Discovery from the prestigious World’s 50 Best Restaurants platform. Our enduring commitment to offering an exceptional French dining experience is now globally recognized. Join us as we celebrate this milestone and continue to set the standard for fine dining in Cambodia:

Cuisine des Cinq: A Five-Star fine-dining Feast at Topaz

At Thalias, we’re constantly pushing the boundaries to bring you unforgettable gastronomic experiences. This time, we’re offering something truly special: A unique fine dining event that brings together the expertise of five of our top chefs. Get ready for the 10 Hands Special Dinner on the 21st of September! A Culinary Affair of Five Master Chefs Our 10 Hands Special Dinner will feature the remarkable talents of: Sopheak Pov, the Executive Chef at Topaz. Chanrotana Sun, the Head Chef at Khéma Giuseppe Napoletano, the Head Chef at Siena. Phyra Hem, the Head chef at Topaz Commune. Panharith Hak, the Pastry Chef at Khéma. Each of these culinary maestros will bring their unique skills and passion to the table, promising an evening of fine dining unlike any other. The Magic of 10 Hands The “10 Hands” signifies the collaboration of our five master chefs, each contributing their expertise to this grand event. This culinary team of 10 hands will create a menu that is French-focused, but with a hint of Italian flair, thanks to Chef Giuseppe Napoletano’s mastery of Italian cuisine. The Chefs Behind the Magic Let’s delve into the profiles of the master chefs that will make this fine dining event possible. Sopheak Pov Student of Master Chef Alain Darc and acting Executive Chef at Topaz, Sopheak Pov is renowned for his ability to create French dishes that are as visually stunning as they are delicious. Chanrotana Sun Chanrotana Sun, the Executive Chef at Khéma, is a master of French cuisine, known for his innovative approach to traditional dishes. Giuseppe Napoletano Giuseppe Napoletano, the Executive Chef at Siena, brings the authentic flavors of Italy to Thalias. His mastery of Italian cuisine will add a unique twist to the 10 Hands Special Dinner. Phyra Hem Phyra Hem, the Head Chef at Topaz Commune, applies his culinary expertise, built from years of working as sous-chef at Topaz, as well as travelling to France, and experiencing firsthand the work demanded from Michelin star restaurants. Panharith Hak Panharith Hak, the Pastry Chef at Khéma, infuses creativity and precision into every dessert he crafts. His pastries are a perfect blend of taste and aesthetics. Information about the event The 10 Hands Special Dinner will take place at the elegant Topaz Restaurant. Known for its sophisticated decor and exquisite cuisine, Topaz is the perfect setting for this high-profile culinary event. The special dinner is set for the 21’st of September. Bookings will be opening very soon. So, are you ready to immerse yourself in a fine dining experience that is as unique as it is unforgettable? Stay tuned for more information on Topaz Facebook and prepare your taste buds for a culinary journey like no other! Remember, this is not just a meal, it’s a celebration of culinary artistry brought to you by Thalias’ finest.

Seize the Magic of Cambodia: An Unforgettable Two-Week Journey from Temples to Tropical Beaches

When it comes to exploring the enchanting landscapes of Southeast Asia, the Kingdom of Cambodia often takes the backseat. Yet, the truth couldn’t be more contrasting. This vibrant country, with its rich history, diverse culture, and stunning natural beauty, offers an unparalleled tourism experience, often underappreciated by many travelers. If you are seeking a new experience, filled with exploration and discovery, then a two-week trip to this captivating part of South East Asia promises an adventure beyond your wildest dreams. MUST TRY RESTAURANTS: At the end of each paragraph, you will find two different restaurants with varying cuisines which will be sure to please anyone’s tastebuds. Relish the Royal Splendor of Phnom Penh (Day 1-2) Kick start your Cambodian tour in the bustling capital city of Phnom Penh, affectionately known as the “Pearl of Asia”. This city, replete with a blend of Khmer and French influences, offers a unique amalgamation of tradition and modernity. Upon arriving, make it a point to visit the Royal Palace, a magnificent structure showcasing the epitome of Khmer and Buddhist architecture. Then, satiate your taste buds by trying out the local speciality: Amok, a delightful Cambodian curry cooked in banana leaves. For those with an adventurous palate, deep-fried tarantula makes for an intriguing option. The next day, delve into Cambodia’s chequered history by visiting the Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. These sites, bearing remnants of the Khmer Rouge regime, provide a stark reminder of the four-year genocide that took place under Pol Pot’s reign. Yi Sang riverside : Delicious Chinese restaurant, open for breakfast or lunch for some delicious homemade dumplings. A gorgeous view over the river is just a bonus, and it is right next to the royal palace. Night market experience : Snacking for Khmer street food and shopping in the evening. Fun for any family or group of Friends to feast and wander. Unlock the Mysteries of Siem Reap (Day 3-5) After experiencing the urban charm of Phnom Penh, head to Siem Reap – the gateway to the ruins of Angkor. Begin your exploration with a visit to the world-famous Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The awe-inspiring sunrise over the temple complex is an experience that will surely remain etched in your memory for years to come. On your second day, explore the lesser-known yet equally captivating temples of Bayon and Ta Prohm. While Bayon amazes with its intricate carvings and labyrinthine passageways, Ta Prohm, also known as the “Tomb Raider Temple”, enchants with its unique blend of nature and architecture, where trees intertwine with the ruins in a mesmerizing display of time’s relentless march. For nature lovers, a visit to Ton Le Sap Lake offers a chance to witness the unique lifestyle of the local people living in the middle of the lake. Despite the touristy nature of the boat tours, it’s an experience worth having. Malis Angkor : A must go for anyone looking to explore Cambodian flavours. With brilliant architecture, inspired from the great temples in Siem Reap, you will find yourself full of food and full of happiness. Khéma Angkor : If you are craving, or missing, a more western styled meal, then look no further than Khéma Angkor. Here you will find that they have a delicious breakfast or lunch offering sure to satiate any dish you miss from home. Immerse in the Quiet Charm of Battambang (Day 6-7) Next, travel to the quieter city of Battambang, a place where you can experience Cambodia’s charm at a slower pace. Start your day with a fun ride on the Bamboo Train, a unique and memorable experience. In the evening, make sure to visit the Phare Ponleu Selpak Circus, a not-for-profit project supporting disadvantaged children. The talented young performers put on a show that is sure to leave you spellbound. Jaan Bai : A wonderful restaurant pioneering new Cambodian flavours, with it’s take on traditional dished fused with western techniques and ingenuity. The Lonely Tree Café : Another stop to add during your time in Battambang. Either for a nice break from touring or a filling lunch. Rejuvenate in the Coastal Bliss of Sihanoukville (Day 8-9) After the hustle and bustle of the cities and the historical explorations, it’s time to unwind on the serene beaches of Sihanoukville. Spend your days relaxing on the pristine white sands of Otres Beach, soaking in the tranquil ambiance and stunning sunsets. Golden Beach : One of a kind Khmer style seafood restaurant. If you visit Sihanoukville, do not miss this spot. Sandan : A more traditional style of khmer seafood is what you’ll find at Sandan. A new experience jam packed with all of Cambodia’s herbs, seafood and vegetables. Experience the Tropical Paradise of Koh Rong (Day 10-11) A short boat ride from Sihanoukville brings you to the tranquil oasis of Koh Rong. Spend your days here basking in the sun on the white sandy beaches, swimming in the clear waters, and marveling at the bioluminescence at night. The Big Easy : This is the perfect spot to satiate any craving at all. They have a menu featuring western and Khmer dishes, sure to satiate any craving. Discover the Natural and Gastronomic Delights of Kampot (Day 12-13) Your adventure continues in Kampot, a charming town known for its French colonial architecture and its world-renowned black pepper. Spend a day exploring the Bokor National Park and its Killing Cave, a chilling reminder of the country’s dark past. Next, visit a Kampot Pepper Farm to learn about the cultivation and processing of the world-famous Kampot pepper. Plantation : Eat on-site, a wonderful experience following your tour of the pepper farm. A selection of dishes that will best highlight why Kampot pepper is world renowned. Café espresso : A wide variety of dishes to choose from. Their menu is truly international but featuring heavily on the best vegetarian dishes from all around. If you’re craving some healthy meals, Café Espresso is the restaurant for you. Wrap Up Your Journey in Phnom … Read more

Bringing Back the Business Lunch!

Business is back in business in Cambodia, which means that the business lunch is back too. But with everyone still keeping an eye on budgets, that doesn’t mean that the kind of breakthroughs that business lunches inspire have to break the bank… Business is coming back to Cambodia, and that means one very important thing (as far as we’re concerned anyway): business Lunches are coming back too. At Topaz and Khéma, we’ve made it our business to make sure that you have everything you need to get through your agenda with colleagues, associates and clients in a refined and serious setting, without any fuss, delays, interference, or a digestion-inducing bill. A few years ago, it was declared that the days of the business lunch were over, though this had more to do with the tax laws of a particular country than the actual usefulness of a long-standing tradition. But the Business Lunch is more than just a tradition, because a carefully thought-out Business Lunch will always deliver so much more than what’s on the menu. Among clients, associates and colleagues, it’s an effective way of breaking down barriers, cementing relationships and finding common grounds that define the path for advancement. Something as simple as the change of context can help those attending to reframe problems or situations in their minds, and arrive at solutions or agreements they might not otherwise have done. It’s also a great way to show appreciation for your team’s achievements, strengthen the bonds between them, or to cheerfully welcome a new recruit. This is why the Business Lunch remains popular, despite what the naysayers say. That’s what naysayers do though. In Phnom Penh, Topaz is one of the city’s premier Business Lunch venues because we are able to offer a peerless combination of the highest levels of sophistication, quality and value. Our menu changes every month, and offers a two-course haute cuisine lunch, with drinks, starting at just $19 per person, while a three-course meal including drinks is only $27. It’s hard to argue with numbers like that. But that is not all. For a Business Lunch that combines fine-food standards and preparation with exceptional value and a more relaxed environment, then the Free-Flow Khéma Lunch is a “no-brainer”, as they say in the business world. The extensive Free-Flow Lunch menu changes every week and offers a delicious range of our favourite dishes and revolving specials for the extraordinary price of just $15 per person. And the Free-Flow means you never have to worry about negotiations that might be grinding on, or whether your morning’s work means you’ve worked up an appetite. We predict that the Business Lunch will never die, though its forms will change over the years. The three-hour long “Martini Lunches” of the past are certainly over. Today’s Business Lunch is now a more serious affair, but that’s no reason why it can’t still be useful, rewarding and, of course, delicious.

Valentine’s Day ~ Love Bites…

As many as half of all couples are planning to do something special this Valentine’s Day. Most of them are going out for a romantic dinner (don’t forget to book your table at Topaz, Malis or Khéma now, before they fill up), but almost as many will give their loved one a gift of chocolates as an emblem of whatever emotions underpin their bond, be it fresh young love, or hard-earned affection, companionship, understanding, compassion and tenderness. Chocolate’s relationship with love and ritual goes all the way back to mankind’s first discovery of this delicious bean. Chocolate comes from cocoa tree which is known as ‘Theobroma cacao’, which is Greek for “food of the gods”. The people of Central America were the first to discover and cultivate cacao beans as long as 3500 years ago. Its ceremonial importance then was profound, and chocolate was given generously at banquets, used in ritual offerings to the gods, and to anoint newborn children on the forehead, face and fingers in a rite resembling baptism. In Europe, chocolate was first introduced as a medicine at the beginning of the 16th century, its arrival coinciding with the growth of the West Indian sugar trade which no doubt aided its popularity. About 150 years later, it finally arrived on England’s shores, where it was soon popularly mixed with milk. At this point, it was still almost entirely consumed as a beverage, which remained the case until the mid-1800s when the Cadbury brothers worked out a process for transforming cocoa butter into blocks of delicious melt-in-the-mouth chocolates that we have all come to adore. Chocolate’s association with love and Valentine’s Day might just be the product of good marketing — one of the Cadbury brothers, Richard, was savvy enough to start marketing his new product in heart-shaped boxes and his stroke of marketing genius coincided with the expansion of Valentine’s Day in the Britain and the US. But there is a lot of science behind it too. Chocolate is popular perceived as ‘comforting’ and also as an aphrodisiac. How much of this is actually true is debatable, but as delicious as it is, it certainly provokes feelings of pleasure, and perhaps awakens the mind to pleasure’s potentials. It also contains phenylethylamine, a naturally occurring chemical in the human brain, responsible for the euphoric feelings associated with being in love. However, experiments to discover whether eating chocolate has a measurable effect on this aspect of body chemistry have proved inconclusive. But questions of marketing, science or history aside, we all love chocolate, and we especially love an opportunity to make those we love happy with a gift of pure pleasure. We have a beautiful range of delicious, luxurious and beautifully presented hand-made chocolates at Khéma. Made with love, for the one you love. Malis ❤️Love is your nature Surprise your Valentine with a romantic dinner under the stars and indulge in a charming 5-course gourmet dinner. Choose between the intimacy of the garden dining or the cosy room dining area.​ Malis menu Khéma ❤️Feel the love No matter how you say it, Valentine’s Day is the time to let loved ones know just how much they matter. Whether you are a couple madly in love, a family looking for a delicious meal, or a group of friends, we have you covered with an amazing French menu made with love.​ Khéma menu Topaz ❤️ Taste the love We’re bringing all the love to Topaz to celebrate Valentine’s Day! Taste your love around a romantic dinner planned for you. We have created a divine menu, crafted intricately and filled with delicious dishes that are sure to amplify the love for those closest to your heart. Topaz menu

Unreasonable Hospitality is the Future

Everyone who wants to run a business, any business but especially a service business, should work in restaurants for a while. It’s like a bootcamp in human relations and management that efficiently, and sometimes brutally, condenses every thing you need to learn if you’re paying attention. Will Guidara, the author of the excellent autobiography/chatty management manual, Unreasonable Hospitality: The Remarkable Power of Giving People More Than They Expect (Penguin, 2022), was definitely paying attention. It’s what he does, and that principle alone defines much of what he has to say about going above and beyond in this, and any other service industry, in this lively, entertaining and enlightening peek behind hospitality’s neatly ironed veil. The principles of good hospitality underpin the delivery of any service, whether you want to set up a trucking company or a corner deli, because whatever you do it’s always about how you relate and respond to people, and how you make them remember you and come back. No professional arena (except perhaps warfare) puts you into such close contact with so many people operating at their best and at their worst, with such speed and intensity, with such dependence on high-level collaboration both planned for and off-the-cuff, with so many tiny details to keep in mind because overlooking any one of them could lead to disaster, with such a need to constantly think 14 steps ahead but be reviewing and adding to those steps on a second-by-second basis, with such a need to retain a vast range of information from the sourcing and preparation of specific ingredients, to the suitability of any particular wine for that dish, to where the best place to listen to good music nearby might be, and to do all that while looking cool, calm, unruffled and always wearing a smile, than a busy restaurant floor on a Saturday night. Forty-three-year-old Guidara has spent 25 years working at some of the most in demand and demanding restaurants in the world, at both the corporate end and front of house. Along the way, he became a manager and co-owner of Eleven Madison Park (ELP), one of the string of restaurants set up by famed New York restaurateur Danny Meyer. When Guidara took over ELP, it was already one of the top restaurants in the world, consistently listed on the San Pellegrino Top 50. But it was at the bottom end of the top, which bothered the ambitious Guidara. By the time he sold his part in the business, it was Number One. Getting there, he knew there was no way the restaurant could improve its food any further, not in a way that made sense for the restaurant’s brand, and so he decided to radically adjust the other half of the dining-out equation: the service. “If we could become a restaurant focused passionately, intentionally, wholeheartedly on connection and graciousness — on giving both the people on our team and the people we served a sense of belonging — then we’d have a real shot of greatness”. Guidara’s ambition was to turn ordinary transactions into extraordinary experiences, which meant digging into what people are really looking for when they dine out, because the food is just a part of it. There is nothing inherently wrong with simply giving people that part of what they want and leaving it there, unless you have ambitions to grow. But if you can additionally make people feel seen, and welcomed, and give them a sense of belonging, and that everything you are doing is uniquely designed for them, then there are no limits to what can be achieved. Guidara’s epiphany came the night he overheard a group of European diners on their last night in New York celebrating all the incredible restaurants they had dined at, but lamenting the fact that they hadn’t got to taste a typical New York hot dog. Long story short: in the middle of service, Guidara raced out, got them their hot dog, talked the horrified chef into plating it, and served it to the four. That $2 hot dog in a Michelin-starred restaurant kicked off a revolution in his mind. Or rather, the response of the diners did, because their minds were blown and they will never stop talking about that meal for the rest of their lives. As you go through the book, Guidara reminds you of a slightly geeky cousin whose enthusiasm and passion for his craft never fails to shine through. But he matches that passion with diligence, an exacting eye, and a natural rapport with people. The stories highlight the ideas and principles that have come to underpin his approach today, but also serve as a rather thrilling insight into what goes into the creation of a high-end dining experience. The number of tiny decisions that culminate in the final presentation of every meal must go into the thousands. Among those numerous guidelines, we’ve distilled the following: Be present — pay attention to the person in front of you and what they are looking for. They will not always express that verbally. Take what you do seriously, without taking yourself too seriously: otherwise you’ll never think of something as genuinely transformative as serving a hotdog in a Michelin-starred restaurant. There can be no one size fits all — each customer is unique, and needs to be treated accordingly. The 95/5 Rule: ruthlessly manage 95% of your business down to the last penny, but spend that last 5% “foolishly”. That 5% can have an outsized impact on your business when it is transformed into transformative experiences for your clients. Read The One Minute Manager. Mistakes are inevitable. Apologise. You must be able to identify to yourself why your work matters. Excellence is the culmination of thousands of details executed perfectly, and the smallest things matter. A leader’s responsibility is to identify the strengths of the people on their team, no matter how buried those strengths might be. And excellent leaders create leaders. Don’t try to be all … Read more

A Toast to Alvaro Palacios, and the New Spanish Vanguard

You have to feel for Spain’s wine producers. They have a higher acreage of ground under vine than any other country in the world, yet their production does not as yet match their potential or ambition. And nor does consumers’ appreciation of what they actually have already achieved. They’re caught between a rock and a hard place: considered a sort of poor, uncouth cousin in Europe’s regimented Old Wine World, they can’t call on the cachet their neighbours are endowed with, yet they can’t appeal to the sense of energy, innovation and creativity that New World wine producers do either. But so much has changed in Spain over the last two decades, and one of the biggest drivers of the revolution is a name you will find on Topaz’s wine list: Alvaro Palacios. The Spanish wine revolution has been a long time coming, but for those who are alive to it, there is a world of complexity, refinement and taste to be found. And because Spain is still playing catch-up, it’s possible to find reasonably priced wines whose quality would command 100s of dollars if they were in, say, a French bottle. Alvaro Palacios was acutely aware of the potentials that could be found not only in improving Spain’s techniques and education, but also in looking back to the country’s traditional varietals rather than implanting French imports. And that is how he drove the revival of entire regions in Priorat in Catalunya, to the east of the country, and Bierzo to the west. Alvaro Palacios comes from a prestigious wine family in the north-central Rioja region that had for long broadly avoided the path towards obscurity that the rest of Spain’s wine producers found themselves on. He could have secured a prime position in the family winery, the renowned Palacios Remondo, but an independent spirit took him elsewhere. Taking the knowledge he had already gleaned from growing up in the heart of one of Spain’s oldest wine families, Alvaro decamped to Bordeaux where he studied oenology and worked at the venerated Château Pétrus in Pomerol, a highly coveted label that is frequently ranked among the world’s most expensive wines. Coming back to Spain at the end of the 1980s, Alvaro teamed up with a group of five “pioneers” who came to transform Priorat’s wine industry and fortunes. In the process they modernised, but they also capitalised on the unique local knowledge that had been put aside over the course of time as poverty and politics took their tolls. At Priorat, he initially carried on with the region’s tendency to work with imported French grapes, but in the 90s he became convinced of the value of reviving Spain’s own varietals, especially Grenache for which Priorat was once renowned. But even within the constraints he faced on starting up in Priorat, Alvaro was clear about his ambitions and strict about his practices. He relied on organic methods and looked back to the practices employed by the wine-making monks of the 12th century. Importantly, he cooperated with other neighbouring producers who shared his spirit so they could pool their resources and support one another with the wider goal of expanding everyone’s potential. Alvaro’s story is a story of revitalisation, of a region, of history, an industry, and also a nation. He did it through knowing which parts of the past and which of the present he needed to adopt and adapt, and he has successfully repeated the formula in other parts of Spain, including Bezier. You can savour the flavour and quality of his success at Topaz. We highly recommend it. Book your table at Topaz

A Slice of the Very Best Life

Iberian black pigs in the mountain forests of southern Spain

Made from the cured meat of Iberian black pigs that have grazed freely in the mountain forests of southern and western Spain, Pata Negra de Bellota is no ordinary ham One of the most expensive foods in the world, ranked alongside Kobe beef, oysters, foie gras and caviar, Pata Negra de Bellota is no ordinary ham. Made from the cured meat of Iberian black pigs that have grazed freely in the mountain forests of southern and western Spain, it is agreed, as a matter of fact, that Pata Negra is the finest ham in the world. You’ll be able to tell the difference the moment you lay eyes on the delicately carved wafer-thin slices. From the deeper pink, and sometimes red, colour of the flesh to the glistening silkiness of the ribbons of fat that wrap along its side. The scent is soft, with hints of sweetness, while the taste and texture are a combination of honeyed, nutty richness from the meat and creamy silk from the fat. It is a sublime combination that deserves your full attention. And how do they create something so magical? The black-hoofed (“pata negra”) Iberian black pig grazes freely in the dry, warm oak-filled mountain forests of Spain. There they gorge on acorns, the fruit of the oak trees called bellota, which help to infuse their meat and fat with sweet, nutty flavours. But this little pig has its own special talents too, as it lays down fat slightly differently from other pigs. Not only do they develop a rich layer of fat along their haunches, but the meat itself is riven with tiny slivers of that fat where the deepest wells of flavour are found. The ham comes from the hind legs which are salted and hung to cure for as long as three to four years. Because the black Iberian pig lays down so much fat, the hams can be cured for longer than other hams resulting in a deeper concentration of flavours that create the intense experience for which Pata Negra is so rightly famed. The traditions that brought us Pata Negra de Belllota go back thousands of years and are steeped in reverence. This ham is the pride of Spain, the jewel in its culinary crown, and one single ham can sell for as much as $4,000. To really enjoy your Pata Negra at Topaz, we recommend pairing it up with a glass of Champagne, which offers a nice balance to the sweet, fattiness of the ham. Alternatively, wines from the Loire Valley are always highly recommended, such as a Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé. Cleansing the palate with each sip will prepare you for a fresh new flavour explosion with your next bite.

Spoons Out! It’s Mont d’Or Season…

Mont d’Or is revered in France almost like no other cheese is, and there’s a good reason why that is! While many consider the Christmas Celebration season an excellent reason to be jolly, there’s certainly no need to feel glum now that it’s over for another year. That’s because there’s another season going on which, we think, is guaranteed to have the cheese-lovers of this world singing joyously as they grab their spoons for a scoop of the gloriously luscious cheese, Mont d’Or. What is Mont d’Or? Well, for starters it’s revered in France almost like no other cheese is, and there’s a good reason why that is. More technically, it’s a lightly pressed soft cows’ milk cheese with a washed rind. It is produced between September and March each year using milk from cows on their cold-weather diet of hay and no longer producing enough milk to make the traditional large-scale cheeses such as Gruyère, Comte and Beaufort. However, this fall and winter milk, while less voluminous is also higher in protein and fat that produce richly flavoured cheeses which ripen quickly into a deliciously gooey, runny cheese with a heavy rind. However, while the flavour might be deep, it tends to be less complex than that produced from the milk of summer-grass eating cows. And because the French are French, this would not do. So an ingenious solution was found. The practice of wrapping maturing cheeses in strips of bark was first recorded in the thirteenth century, though may well have preceded that time. Wrapping the cheeses in bark, specifically spruce bark in the case of Mont d’Or, encourages the development of different classes of flavour-forging bacteria that yield rich, creamy cheeses with complex, multi-layered flavours. It is no surprise that Mont d’Or was a firm favourite of King Henry XV. This production method is labour-intensive, which may explain why only eleven producers create this cheese today. And the flavour. Well, it’s not just the scarcity of seasonality and production that drives the passions this cheese invokes. In the words of American food writer, David Liebowitz, “… it’s like a brain wreck of everything going on – fat, funk, fresh cream, wood, garlic, rank and a peculiar buttery sharpness scrambling all your senses together in each single mouthful. And if that description doesn’t scare you away, then you’ll be rewarded with a life-altering eating experience”. Who could say no to that?! The only questions now should be: what size spoon should I use, to which the answer is small because you likely won’t be able to stop once you start, and what wine should I drink with this miracle? If you can get your hands on a vin jaune, which is produced in the Jura, then all the better. In the absence of that, you’ll need a dry white wine that can stand up for itself, like Chardonnay, Gewürtztraminer, or Sancerre. Oh, and Champagne! If you fancy something else though, then perhaps a porter-style beer might be your answer. Mont d’Or can be enjoyed as it is, or elevated to food-of-the-gods levels by wrapping the entire container securely in foil (particularly if you’re the one who usually has to clean the oven), while leaving the top open. Then poke a few holes in the golden rind with a knife, sprinkle it with a little salt and pepper, pour a glass of white wine over it, and bake it about 190ºC (375ºF) for about 20 to 30 minutes. Hiding all the spoons in the house except your own is liable to lead to wars.

One Ingredient to Bind Them: Foie Gras

Le fois gras poêlé - Topaz.

There are few things more quintessentially French than a sublime sliver of silky smooth foie gras perched atop a slice of crisp baguette. This luxurious “fat liver” is one of our key ingredients at Topaz, and for very good reason… . At Topaz, we’ll soon be launching an exciting new menu where you’ll find some completely new dishes, some lively twists on old favourites, and some of your most-loved dishes just as you’ve always enjoyed them. As always, the menu is unmistakably French, as are the ingredients, one of which holds pride of place in all our hearts: Foie Gras. As smooth as pure satin, Foie Gras combines rich umami tones with a sweetish minerally flavour. Yet for all the richness and depth, its smooth, buttery texture gives it a melting, delicate quality. Foie Gras (“fat liver”) has long been a staple of the Gascon larder. Gascony, in the Southwestern corner of France, that borders the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Pyrenees mountains to the south, is one of the engine rooms of French cuisine, renowned not just for the quality and variety of the ingredients produced there, but also for the the methods of preparing, preserving and cooking them. It’s also breathtakingly beautiful in case you should be thinking of passing by. It is commonly, and most likely incorrectly, thought that the method of feeding ducks or geese in order to produce Foie Gras originated in Egypt. However, it is very likely true that the practice was brought to France by the Jews for whom it afforded a source of fat as dietary rules, kashrut, prohibited the consumption of lard, and often butter. In France, Foie Gras was first produced in Strasbourg but eventually made its way to Gascony, which has made an art, and today an industry, out of its production. At Topaz, we’ve integrated Foie Gras into a range of our dishes in order to add richness, depth of flavour, and a deliciously luxurious flourish. You’ll find it wrapped up in puff pastry with mushroom duxelles, truffles and fillet of beef for an iconic Beef Wellington—a feast for kings—or prepared with its very own tart and a deliciously tangy Périgueux sauce as a glorious opening starter for your meal, or once more wrapped up in a puff-pastry crust (the ultimate comfort food) together with black winter truffles, another Gascon speciality, and meltingly delicate veal sweetbreads. Alternatively, you could let the Foie Gras really take centre stage with two time-honoured ways of enjoying it. There is the simplest, with everything taken down to their its elements, Foie Gras à la Truffe en Terrine, a generous slice of umami-packed silk to be enjoyed with toasts, and perhaps shared with those you love most (if they’ve been good). Or you could heat things up a little with a Pan-seared Foie Gras with Caramelised Apples, a classic of French cuisine that marries the sublime richness of Foie Gras with the sweet-tart sauce. There’s a very good reason the French love this so much: it’s a sensational dish. And also a good one to remember the next time a French person tells you they can’t eat sweet & sour pork because they’re not used to mixing sweet and savoury in French cooking. Whatever you do, don’t miss out on trying it.