Chocoholics, rejoice! Shangri-La's Far Eastern Plaza Hotel has just come up with a sinfully delicious menu that encourages everyone to "take a dip."
Starting December 1, the five-star hotel's Lobby Court is offering a fondue buffet featuring four kinds of thick, heavy and luscious chocolate dips: Dark, milk, white and strawberry chocolates.
The buffet spread is available from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. every night.
"Lobby Court guests will each get individual chocolate fondue pots," said Christine Yen, marketing communications manager of the Shangri-La-managed property.
Derived from the French word "fondre" which means "melt," fondue is indulgence in itself. Chocolate fondue, a treat guaranteed to please those with a sweet tooth, is ideal for dipping ripe fruits such as whole strawberries, bananas, and even citrus fruits.
At the Lobby Court, diners can have their fill of various fondue dippers from fruit chunks (honeydew melons, whole strawberries, dried apricots, pineapples, candied cherry tomatoes, and grapes) to pastries (proffiterolles filled with coffee, chocolate or caramel cream; meringues; maccarons; biscotti; and hazelnut cookies). The fruits are ready for dunking since each cube comes with a bamboo skewer. Marshmallows-on-sticks are also available.
Those who want a little bit more crunch in their fondues may add "sprinkles" including chocolate crisps, cookie crumbs, crushed nuts, and toasted almond flakes.
To make it deliciously gooey, Pastry Chef Vincent Ho drops chocolate squares into a medium-size bowl and allows it to sit there for a few minutes over low heat.
"You have to gently stir it until the chocolate becomes smooth," Ho said.
As soon as his pool of warm, thick chocolate is ready, the pastry chef gently pours it into a small pot placed over a miniature burner. This will keep the fondue warm and smooth.
According to the Shangri-La, the dark chocolate fondue served at the Lobby Court is made from carefully selected Valrhona Manjari, making it bittersweet with a hint of acidity. The white chocolate version is made from soft-textured Valrhona white chocolate. Premium quality Valrhona Jivara milk chocolate is the basis of the Lobby Court's milk chocolate fondue which has hints of caramel and nuts.
But which fruit or biscuit goes best with a particular chocolate fondue?
According to the pastry chef, dark chocolate, which is a little bitter, is a perfect complement to marshmallows and biscotti. Milk chocolate, one of Ho's top favorites, is ideal with maccarons and hazelnut cookies. White chocolate goes very well with strawberries and pineapples. Strawberry chocolate is a perfect partner to grapes, dried apricots, and candied cherry tomatoes.
A few tips to fondue beginners: Twirl your dipper gently into the fondue pot, lift it, and let it rest on the rim for a few seconds. By doing this, excess chocolate will drip back into the pot, not on your shirt front. Also, legend has it that if you drop one of your dippers into the fondue pot, you have to kiss the person closest to you.
The Lobby Court's chocolate fondue buffet costs NT$420 per person. A set that comes with coffee or tea costs NT$480 per person. Prices are subject to a 10 percent service charge. For reservations, call (02) 2378-8888 ext. 5866. The address of the Shangri-La's Far Eastern Plaza Hotel is Taipei Metro, 201 Tun Hwa South Road, Section 2, Taipei. Tel: (02) 2378-8888.