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The Sweet Life: Cakes, Tarte Flambée and Savoury Puffs, Oh My!

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Calling all sugar fiends!  Cakes, tarte flambée and savoury puffs, oh my!  Forgo the urge for a doughnut or chocolate chip cookie (that is so 2017!), instead opt for something on the sugar spectrum that is anything but ordinary.  Welcome to Decadent – the contemporary café and patisserie shop by Four Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur dedicated to satisfying life’s sweet indulgences with the finest, handcrafted artisanal confections.

In typical Four Seasons fashion, the Hotel has thought of everything for travellers – from personal running coaches at the Fitness Centre to a resort-style rooftop pool in the heart of the city, and now the Hotel’s very own sweet shop to please the most discerning palates and most importantly, enjoy the sweet life.

As with its namesake, Decadent offers an extravagant, yet equally playful and hedonistic menu of edible art featuring modern twists on old classics.  Here, the confections are displayed like a whimsical jewel box, featuring everything from made-to-order gelato to artisanal chocolates, seasonal tarts, desserts, baked goods, pastries and delicate cakes.  Just as dreamy, Decadent features an assortment of artisanal, hand-roasted coffee ranging from nitro coffee to class espresso, well suited for the connoisseur and pairs well with any of the confections.

Led by Pastry Chef Guillaume Guirand, who hails from France, the fanciful atmosphere combined with the delicious assortment showcases Four Seasons commitment to artisanal quality and authentic craftsmanship.  “Growing up in France, pastry was a way of everyday life, it was about taking a moment to enjoy life’s sweet indulgences,” notes Chef Guirand.  Taking a cue from Chef Guirand’s childhood, Decadent is the perfect excuse to take that moment. Inspired by Europe’s leading chocolatiers, the shop offers the perfect temptation to take a moment to indulge and features a live chocolate tempering station with custom made brittles that include classic, new and Malaysian inspired ingredients.  Similarly, the gelateria offers made-to-order ice cream and sherbet, using the finest quality of seasonal fruit puree and natural flavours from Malaysia.

Discover Decadent, and discover the sweet life in Kuala Lumpur.

Gastronomy

5 reasons to snack on strawberries

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The perfect snack needs to check off three boxes: It should be filling enough to get you to your next meal, provide nutrition that fits into your balanced diet, and satisfy cravings, whether sweet or savory. Not an easy task, but juicy California strawberries are up for the challenge.

“Strawberries are an ideal snack because not only do they taste great, they’re also heart-healthy and an anti-inflammatory food,” says Manuel Villacorta, registered dietitian and author of Flat Belly 365. “I love to pair strawberries with yogurt, peanut butter on rice crackers, or cottage cheese. Strawberry smoothies are also a favorite.”

Naturally sweet, yet low in sugar

Many people get the urge to graze around that 3 o’clock slump. By reaching for something that has natural sweetness, you can fulfill that craving without excess calories and sugar. In fact, one serving of eight strawberries has only 50 calories and eight grams of sugar.

Bursting with nutrients

Another reason to love strawberries? “The combination of flavonoids, antioxidants and fiber can help reduce cholesterol levels,” Villacorta says. “Plus, strawberries are full of potassium, which can help manage blood pressure and prevent strokes.” Strawberries don’t stop there; a single serving has more vitamin C than an orange.

Boost your brain

According to a study in the Annals of Neurology, eating strawberries at least twice per week may delay cognitive aging by two and a half years, which includes improvement in memory and motor function. Add in a daily sudoku or crossword puzzle and you’re on your way to a sharper mind!

Great for diabetes management

Nutrient-packed strawberries are a great option for those with diabetes. In fact, the American Diabetes Association lists strawberries as a top superfood for diabetic meal plans. “The anthocyanins found in strawberries may help improve insulin resistance, which means you can regulate blood glucose better,” according to Villacorta.

Snacks anyone will love

Both kids and adults love a good strawberry snack. Try a strawberry oat bar, peanut butter yogurt dipped strawberries, strawberry almond butter snackwich or even strawberry turkey pinwheels to switch things up in your afternoon routine. From quick and kid-friendly to fancy appetizers, visit CaliforniaStrawberries.com for snacks perfect for all ages and occasions.

Snacking can be fun for the whole family with bright colors, simple recipe ideas, unexpected flavor combinations and a little creativity. And if your snacks are full of vital nutrients and health benefits, even better!

What are you waiting for? Pick up some strawberries and get snacking today.

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Gastronomy

3 Things You Didn’t Know About Chocolate – And Why You Should Care

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As you stand in the chocolate aisle of the grocery store, have you ever stopped to think about the story behind each bar?

Knowing that your choice of chocolate has a positive impact on the farmers who cultivated the cocoa beans can sweeten the entire experience. When choosing your favorite treat, make sure it is one that combines pleasure with purpose. Here are three things you might not know about chocolate, and how each one could impact your decision in the candy aisle:

1. The cocoa industry affects over 5 million small holder cocoa farmers around the world. The majority of cocoa is grown on small farms operated by independent farmers in developing countries in West Africa, Southeast Asia and the Americas. Your choice in the chocolate aisle can go a long way toward supporting these households: DOVE Chocolate partners with CARE, an organization dedicated to fighting global poverty. This partnership powers the development of Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs): savings-led, community-based programs that allow members, such as cocoa farmers and their families, to support each other with low-interest loans and savings plans. The loans help cocoa farming households access capital to improve their farming practices, expand and diversify their businesses, and invest in education and health for their families and enrich their local community.

2. Fifty percent of cocoa farming activities are completed by women, yet women rarely benefit from cocoa-related income. While women play a key role in cocoa farming, many of them do not receive the income benefits they deserve. The VSLA initiative provides women with ways to save money and access small loans. In turn, women in cocoa farming communities can increase productivity on their cocoa farms and even achieve greater equality with their male counterparts. Within the past year, female representation in VSLAs has risen to 80 percent, and many members have increased their initial investments by 58 percent since joining a VSLA.

3. Cocoa is produced by farming households in developing African countries who often lack affordable financial services, according to CARE. Rural Africans have been forced to use whatever high-cost lenders are available in their area. By choosing chocolate that supports VSLA programs, you’re helping women in cocoa growing communities find a safe and community-supported way to access loans and put their money into savings. What’s more, these programs have further evolved with the linkage of many VSLAs and their members to formal Micro-Finance Institutions (MFI). This linkage gives VSLA members opportunities to access more modern financial tools that can increase profitability.

“Today’s consumers are savvy in that they are increasingly conscientious about their impact on the world based on their purchase decisions,” says Leslie Philipsen, Brand Director, DOVE Chocolate. “For example, we are finding that people appreciate knowing that their favorite brands stand behind real commitments to the people who create the products they know and love, and are doing what they can to help them succeed. That’s why we continue to partner with CARE to positively impact thousands of women in the cocoa growing communities of Cote d’Ivoire through the VSLA program.”

“We know when a woman joins a VSLA, her involvement creates ripples of positive change that extend past herself to include the people in her community,” says Marcela Hahn, Executive Director of CARE’s Strategic Partnerships team. “VSLAs are about more than giving women financial opportunities. They are about transformation. We are honored to stand in partnership with DOVE Chocolate, changing the lives of thousands of women and their families in Cote d’Ivoire.”

From now through August 18, DOVE Chocolate will donate $1 to CARE for every purchase of specially marked DOVE Chocolate PROMISES at CVS Pharmacy locations. To learn more about the effort, visit www.dovechocolate.com.

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Gastronomy

Lessons in Spice: Tutorials in Traditional Tastes

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Designed to add a delicious cultural element to any vacation, Malaysian cooking classes at Four Seasons Resort Langkawi teach guests to distinguish local ingredients, sample aromatic spices, and discover traditional cooking techniques with its world-class chefs.

“Food is both wonderfully evocative and nourishing,” comments the Resort’s passionate Director of Food and Beverage Akshay Tripathi. “And Malay cuisine is such a pleasurable amalgamation of flavours. Our classes are designed to share the joy and ease of preparing Malaysian cuisine with guests.”

In keeping with the values of the Resort’s multi-award winning Malay restaurant, Ikan-Ikan, the Malaysian cooking class see guests using 100 per cent natural, Langkawian ingredients sourced from small local producers and nearby organic farms. As Langkawi born and bred chef explains, “It’s the only way to guarantee local, authentic flavour!”

Malaysian Cooking Class

Sampling local delicacies and home-inspired fare is an exciting holiday rite of passage. Held in either the Serai Pavilion or Ikan-Ikan Restaurant, against the backdrop of the Andaman Sea, the Resort’s two-hour cooking class reveals the secrets of Malaysia’s eclectic cuisine.

Participants get hands-on tutelage on how to prepare three traditional dishes – chicken satay and peanut gravy, prawn gulai with pineapple, and mango pudding – savouring the fruits of their labour for lunch.  With step-by-step demonstrations, chefs also share invaluable preparation techniques, including how to chop onions and chillies without tears, the correct way to cut chicken, and how to distinguish fresh prawns from bad ones.

A new skill-set aside, guests also come away with an apron souvenir (printed with recipe), a full set of take-home recipes and an Art of Malaysian Cuisine certificate.

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