A high-flying Kuwaiti guest was so smitten after one mouthful of The Restaurant’s mind-blowingly delicious macaroons that he bought the entire stock to be shipped home, leaving the poor old pastry team to start afresh and create a whole new batch of their delightful almond biscuits for the day’s service. What, you might be wondering, is so special about The Restaurant’s macaroons? The secret, we believe, lies in Patisserie Chef Gregory Legros’ passion for trekking.
Known to wander off into Oman’s desert landscape for days of ambling, the intrepid chef is often welcomed into the villages he passes by the famously friendly Omani locals. They fill him with culinary treats to help power him on his way, and the flavours, he tells Gourmet, influence his own creations. As such, the macaroons he masterminds aren’t only the classics, such as chocolate or pistachio, there are also complex combos inspired by his travels.
The current collection includes the Jabal Al Akhdhar Pomegranate Macaroon (Jabal Al Akhdhar, meaning ‘Green Mountain’, towers 2500m above sea level in the Sultanate and the spot is famous for its local fruit). There’s also a white peach and verbena, a hazelnut and sweet black olive tapenade, a mandarin and tahini sesame paste, and even a sandalwood variety made with butter cream infused with edible essential oil.
Chocolates get the avant-garde treatment too, with exotic offerings such as The Smoky, a pungent Lapsang Souchong tea ganache, and The Black Sea, a caramelised honey and white, milk and dark chocolate mix topped with volcanic black sea salt. Local flavours come through in The Omani Date, a thin cashew nut nougatine, milk chocolate and date ensemble, and the Muscat Toffee – soft toffee with Muscat souk spices, dark chocolate and roasted hazelnut. Is your mouth watering yet?
You can buy boxes of macaroons and chocolates, as well as artful cakes, at the dedicated patisserie counter at The Restaurant (where you can also watch the chefs at work), or you can order a selection for dessert. But before dessert you need a main course. We recommend something light that leaves lots of space for the sugar rush to come. The lobster salad is a winner, with perfectly balanced flavours and a helping of savoury jelly, which is oh-so fashionable in culinary circles right now, and looks harder to make than it actually is. The Chedi team generously shared their recipe with us. Try it yourself if you want to wow your dinner party guests, or have it made for you on your next visit to the hotel. The macaroons alone are worth the trip and the surrounding scenery is one of nature’s masterpieces.
INFO: The Chedi, North Ghubra 32, Way No3215, 18th November Street, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman, (+968) 24 52 44 00, www.ghmhotels.com/en/chedi-muscat-oman/home.