Modern art is on the menu this month, with two eat-your-art experiences that pay homage to the works of artists Piet Mondrian and Vincent van Gogh. We dug in to find out more!
Rhapsody of Modernism at ANTI:DOTE
A collaboration by ANTI:DOTE with ARTiSTORY and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, “Rhapsody of Modernism” is the final instalment of its four-part series of arty afternoon tea experiences, which previously featured teas inspired by van Gogh, Monet, and Hokusai.
The bites arrive in a three-drawered case, with the sweets perched atop its mirrored surface like jewellery showpieces, and the savoury bites enclosed within. Their Mondrian influence is immediately apparent – from the Cassis Blueberry and Manjari Buckwheat Namelaka tarts crowned with chocolate rectangles in solid blue and red, to the Mortadella sandwich topped with adorable square-cut slices of truffle, the spread echoes his distinctive geometric compositions marked by bold primary colours and precise grid structures.
The star on the menu for me was the Vanilla Almond, with its buttery sable crust and fragrant vanilla bean-speckled cream. The Sea Salt Kouign Amann was another hit, its layers of pastry flaking satisfyingly upon biting. Top amongst the misses was the Smoked Eel – cute as the little coloured pellets were, they were frankly a bit too reminiscent of cat food, and would perhaps have fared better being paired with something else for flavour and textural contrast.
Nonetheless, the variety is stellar – it was a lot of fun trying the different morsels and being surprised by the flavours of each one. An exciting tea time experience for art-lovers for sure!
Starry Night Schiacciata Bread by PÁAN
Established by Amanda Chia, a former MasterChef contestant, and her partner Alex Ng, a former hotel chef, PÁAN is a home-based venture specialising in Italian sandwiches. They recently collaborated with food content creator and home chef Jacky Tan in creating their ‘Starry Night’ Schiacciata Bread, which pays homage to Vincent van Gogh’s timeless masterpiece of the same name.
Jacky explains, “The challenge is to use the food ingredients that Van Gogh loved to eat during his lifetime. As he was very poor, he had to sell his paintings to buy food to eat. Hence, Van Gogh often had potatoes, coffee, chestnuts, and bread for his meals.”
An embodiment of Van Gogh’s culinary inclinations, the ‘Starry Night’ Schiacciata Bread features a mocha crémeux – a blend of creamy mashed potatoes, dark chocolate, and coffee – which is then adorned with caramelised chestnuts, smoked sea salt, raspberries and edible flowers. The pièce de résistance here is, of course, the coloured buttercream icing on top, piped in an impressive likeness of van Gogh’s bold, dynamic brushwork and profound explorations of light and shadow.
Admittedly, eating it proved somewhat of a challenge. The psychological hurdle of cutting into the impressive impressionist icing was surprisingly tough to overcome; for a good five minutes I sat there, knife in hand, projecting gratitude on this day for the blessings of this beautiful creation, in preparation for making the first cut. One did not expect to go Eckhart Tolle over sliced bread on a Monday morning, but one did. Then, there was the question of: to heat or not to heat it up? Clearly, with its icing and crémeux, the answer is not to, but fridge-cold schiacciata is reminiscent of cardboard. Fortunately, a 15-minute sit out at room temperature improved its textural experience, and I was able to enjoy its flavours – a scintillating sweet-savoury concoction of coffee and nutty notes.
Amanda reflects, “When we read about Vincent Van Gough’s life story and the meaning behind ‘The Starry Night’, we reflected about life, mental health and art. There’s so much to learn from him and his art work. There’s a lot of challenges in life, but there’s also a lot of beauty in it and Van Gough has given us so much introspective thoughts through his art works.”
The “Rhapsody of Modernism” afternoon tea experience is available at ANTI:DOTE till 30 November 2023. It is priced at S$98++ per guest with two afternoon tea cocktails, or S$68++ per guest with a choice of two non-alcoholic beverages, while the reduced children’s menu is available at S$34++ per child. For more information, check out the ANTI:DOTE website here.
The “Starry Night” schiacciata bread is available from PÁAN and is priced at $60 inclusive of delivery. To pre-order it, contact PÁAN at their Instagram page here.