BANGKOK—It is (always) a busy time of year for the culinary, garden and landscape teams at Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas. As a brand that champions food that is homegrown, seasonable and sustainable, there is a lot of work going on at all properties.
Around the world, all properties follow the Eat With Six Senses philosophy, while offering a signature twist according to what’s pushing up through the soil or dropping from the vine. Taking a tour around the world is also an opportunity to share this color, variety and abundance with a few best kept recipe secrets to try at home.
Vegan in Vietnam
Where resorts are open, such as Six Senses Ninh Van Bay in Vietnam, the culinary team is foraging, sourcing, preparing and cooking up a mouthwatering array of dishes. The resort’s organic garden, which extends over 20,000 square meters, grows more than 40 different types of herbs, fruits and vegetables. In 2019 alone, nearly 4,000 kilograms of fresh produce were harvested. Mangoes and bananas are particularly ripe and juicy this time of year, delighting Executive Chef Ozgur Bozgurt as he prepares his favorite Tapioca Pudding (Chè Chuối), which is both dairy-free and vegan.
The pudding serves as a perfect end to an authentic Vietnamese street market buffet dinner organized weekly at Dining by the Bay. It is best eaten whilst relaxing on the suspended hammocks by the main jetty listening to the waves lap or watching a favorite movie at the outdoor Cinema Paradiso.
Pepper in Portugal
Whilst Six Senses Douro Valley prepares to open to Portuguese residents on June 1, it is also supporting relief efforts and donating its fresh produce to a nearby retirement home. It is a good month to enjoy the Made in Douro cocktail, which is a favorite of Chief Bartender David Pinto. All ingredients are either produced in-house or by Douro wine estates (quintas). When mixed, the cocktail is full of freshness with citrus hints and aromas and a little spice provided by the black pepper (one of the most sought after ingredients when Vasco da Gama arrived from India back in the late 15th century).
Where best to clink glasses? The hotel is particularly privileged to have expansive terraces, private dining and secluded nooks dotted in and around the gardens as well as five hectares of forest park.
Dates in the Desert
It is also all hands on deck at Six Senses Zighy Bay in Oman. People say that it’s impossible to grow crops in the desert, but with the organic garden on site, and organic farm nearby in Dibba, nearly 40 different crops are grown including vegetables, salad ingredients, herbs and edible flowers. Menus are tailored around what crops can grow the best including dates harvested from 1,300 date trees in the resort, which are used in cooking and turned into syrups and jams.
Just a few steps along the shoreline is the traditional fishing village of Zighy. Executive Chef Michele Mingozzi focuses on freshness so is always up early to select ethically-caught fish and seafood, which he magics into favorites such as Stir-Fry Omani Seafood with Crunchy Farm Vegetables in Light Soya, Date Juice and Lemon Confit. Every location has its own unique atmosphere but signature restaurant “Sense on the Edge” offers the best view. At 293 meters above the Gulf of Oman and with a backdrop of the Musandam Mountains, it serves a 5, 7 or 9-course tasting menu paired with wines by the sommelier. The Shua Shack serves a weekly dining experience of Omani Slow Cook Lamb, which is marinated in local spices before being roasted slowly for 24 hours in a shua or pit oven in the ground. It is accompanied by hot mezzes, saffron rice and the waves just a few feet away.
Mushrooms on the Mountain Tops
High in the mountains at the picturesque gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage site in Dujiangyan lies Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain in China. The Zi Qi Yuan Chinese Restaurant uses ingredients grown in the on-site organic garden. Year-round staples such as pak choi, cauliflower, carrots and garlic as well as summer produce including cucumber, okra and fennel and winter harvests of chilies, broccoli, potatoes and beetroot provide abundant options for the Chefs to get creative. A particular favorite is a signature soup of black truffle and five types of local mushrooms in a nutritious stock. The restaurant is open, and guests can take a turn in the kitchen to learn the fine art of Sichuan cooking. There are many benefits to growing one’s own mushrooms, one of which is having full control of production methods. Many of the mushrooms, fruits, and vegetables at Zi Qi Yuan Chinese Restaurant are cultivated on the on-site organic garden to ensure the ingredients used in different dishes are always fresh, safe, and healthy.
Lettuce in Laamu
With year-round sunshine in the Maldives, Six Senses Laamu is blessed with natural plants blooming throughout the year. The resort tends 60 beds for herbs and lettuces, 24 chili beds, a mushroom hut, and also forages the island’s plentiful harvest of coconuts, lemongrass, pandan leaves, ginger galangal, moringa and aloe vera. Executive Chef Stefan Goehcke’s favorite signature dish is his All Island Salad. This raw plant-based appetizer is inspired by the island’s unique ingredients, which are harvested from the resort’s organic Leaf garden. The dish is as virtuous as it is tasty, as it is zero carbon and plastic free, with Six Senses Laamu making every effort to become the first fully plastic free island in the Maldives.
Where best to eat? Perched just above the garden is the Leaf restaurant with private balconies on the panoramic deck and a communal Chili Table, set within the garden itself. But the best table is possibly down the sandy path on the beachfront to watch the sun set and stars come out to play.
“The concept of offering homegrown, clean plant-based food is central to all restaurants. This gives guests the opportunity to discover our gardens and farms, forage for produce and explore mouthwatering flavor combinations served up by our Chefs knowing they are free of chemicals or additives,” says Group Permaculture Manager Manuel Schmidt. “This sustainable approach to permaculture is a natural fit with our wellness approach in general and our Detox, Sleep and Fitness programs in particular.”
When it comes to guest wellness, the experience doesn’t stop when the last meal is finished on a property. There is also advice to take home, such as what foods to favor and avoid, and how to keep up the good work going forward. Talking of “home”, Director of Eat With Six Senses Celia Lam and Corporate Food and Beverage Director Jonathan Heath have also been working tirelessly in their kitchens to offer much needed food inspiration to people with limited travel options right now.