Los Angeles

OF FOOD, FILMS AND FRESHNESS

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Here reality is more exciting than fantasy. Here food, films and freshness are sparkling with high-voltage glamour. Whoa! What action there is in these immaculate kitchens of this iconic hotel which has distilled decades of Hollywood glamour! It is not only a legendary landmark but also officially on the  National Register of Historic Places of the United States. Here, the brilliant French chef Thomas Bellec conjures magic and today I have invited our very own Los Angeles based Indian cookbook author Neelam Batra. Interestingly Neelam has cooked before in the very same kitchens for Vijay Amritraj’s Foundation dinner.

CALIFORNIA INDIAN

What happens when a gifted  Indian cookbook author and a brilliant French chef cook in California?  They not only delight in the freshness of the vegetables and produce here, go shopping to Farmers markets themselves but also on request share their fabulous recipes, bursting with freshness and goodness. Having won several awards for her three cookbooks and taught cooking in Los Angeles (which she still does), Neelam Batra has been wowing Californians with her special brand of Neelams californiacuisine and raising the bar.  Happily, Neelam has also been a judge on the prestigious James Beard awards and continues to reign supreme. Having honed his skills around the world under the greatest chefs, Chef Bellec from Brittany in France is how himself on the global gourmet scene. He creates gems of wizardry for the recently introduced high tea which we feast on together with   travel and style writer founder of @stylegroove  pretty woman Carrie Mitchell.  Chef Bellec’s little jewels of savory and sweet delight dazzle as he continues to reinvent and wow.

HOLLYWOOD TO BOLLYWOOD

All this action is taking place in the historic Beverly Wilshire which has not only played host to many a high profile event but

celebrities such as Elvis Presley, Warren Beatty and Steve McQueen have all lived in the Hotel. And then ofcourse the  Hotel shot into global fame when 25 years ago it was the the movie Pretty Woman starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere was shot here. And so the pretty woman turns twenty five. And located on the glamour and fashion drenched Rodeo drive this Pretty woman continues to charm.   Several other movies likeClueless, Sex and the City: The Movie and Valentine’s Day   have also been shot here. I have dined here with Anil kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Gulshan Grover and many others in the Beverly Wilshire. Both Hollywood and Bollywood lives and dines here.

RECIPES FOR FRESHNESS AND GOODNESS

  • Both Chef Bellec and Neelam agree that  freshness of ingredients is the most important  key to a great dish. Author of three award winning cookbooks   1,000
    Indian Recipes ( the most-sold Indian cookbook in the US,) she shares with us her favorite, easy to make versatile recipe using tomatoes. And Chef Bellec generously shares his unique recipe for tomato soup.

 

  NEELAM’S OVEN-DRIED TOMATOES

  • 30 to 40 medium to large cherry tomatoes
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon garlic or kosher salt
  • Cut each cherry tomato into half from the stem to tip. Put in a mixing bowl and toss with the olive oil and salt. Line a tray with aluminum foil and place  each tomato half,  cut-side up and bake in an oven at 400ºF for about 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 200ºF and let the tomatoes sit in the oven until they look shriveled and dried, 1½ to 2 hours.
  • Remove from oven and set aside.

     SERVING SUGGESTIONS

  • Allow everything to cool and then refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • Serve them on the side with grilled fare or over your favorite crackers, or present them with cheddar cheese on warm toasts, make sandwiches or lightly scatter them atop a simle cumin rice pullao!

THOMAS’ TOMATOES
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lb plum-Roma tomatoes
14 oz chicken stock or vegetable stock
2 large fennel bulb chopped coarse (if you don’t have fennel, use saunf)
1 large sweet onion chopped coarse
2 garlic cloves minced
2 spring fresh thyme
1 spring fresh rosemary
2 fresh leave laurel
Salt and pepper to taste

Sweet onion and garlic with no color in olive oil. And fennel and tomato cook of for 5 minutes. Add stock and herbs,cook at slow heat for 30 minutes, blend in food processor strain and seasoning to taste. Enjoy!

HOLLYWOOD’S HOT NEWS

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I write from Hollywood, the star-spangled capital of cool, with it’s vivid blue skies, bright sunny cold days. It has this mesmerizing effect as I find myself being guided through the newest and the best (by LA Times Food critic Irene Verbilia and two Foodie Angelenos, actor, writer Dhruv Uday Singh and Tracy Dubin.) We celebrate at  the new, packed with star-power Hakkasan that sprawls glamorously in Beverly Hills. Superb food and two Indian stand up comics (who make India proud)  for company… Mon rok and Tushar Singh. We also dine at the high-priest of American cuisine, Wolfgang Pucks 3 decades old flagship Spago which is as good as ever. Nobu’s first ever restaurant Matsuhisa”  delivers a seamlessly great experience. The Japanese Katsuya’s sushi   and sashimi, the airy cheery downtown’s Bottega Louie’s Sweet potato chips are lodged in my taste bud memory. “Blvd” in the “Pretty Woman” hotel’s (Beverly Wilshire)  new French chef Thomas Bellec weaves magic.Another must visit is  Ladies Gunboat Society at Flores for outstanding Southern fare. Need more info pl email rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh

Review: Boveda

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Global multi-cuisine

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Whoa! What energy! Aamchi Mumbai is rocking with youth and energetic bars and nightplaces…from Colaba (Colaba Social) through Parel (PDT) to Andheri (Boveda). Before leaving for Los Angeles, I visited each of these new arrivals. Thumbs up to the infusion of youthful energy.

Boveda in Andheri is not only for the young nightbirds but is also set up by two 24 year olds and has an equally young chef.

DÉCOR

The sprawling 2,500 sq feet space with it’s suspended retro bulbs, wooden crates for lamp shades exposed brick walls give it an industrial look.  A long dramatically lit-up bar  and an outdoor patio complete the décor.

FOOD DRINKS AND GIGS

43 starters and  6 mains. Dinner is obviously not what you go there for. Plenty of drinks and gigs is what you do go for…there is no entry or cover charge. DJ s (Arjun Wagle  Ma Faiza, Ankytrixx, Sanjay Dutta)   artists ( Whirling Kalapas, Nikhil D’zouza etc) rock the place..

Ask for the robustly spiced, tossed spiced mushroom jalapeno, the deepfried tasty veg croquette plump with paneer and spinach. Enjoy the dominant paprika flavor of the spiced  chicken.  I particularly liked the smoked haloumi cheese on the American pizza. Desserts were woefully lacking, the chocolate ganache tart was good but not the greatest.The must try signature Bóveda cocktails –  BVD, Spiked Old Fashion, Melon Ball and The Green Beast.

MINUS POINTS

More maincourses are definitely needed. And some of the dishes on the menu, like the chorizo prawn stew with pao, the Madras curry chicken with rice lack the zing and don’t pass muster. Ditto for the halumi potato mushroom butter garlic starter. More desserts please!

 

MY POINT

Open only in the evening, this fairly new Andheri arrival is already rocking. Boveda (“vault” in Spanish) doesn’t mean you go looking for Spanish food (there are a few dishes). Don’t go for looking for dinner either, do go for a great night out (plenty of action) cocktails, well-plated starters (please see photo)  and a lusty, young vibe. Rock on!

BOVEDA G04, Morya Landmark One, Plot B-25, Off New Link Road, Oshiwara Village, Andheri (West). 67080858/59
Rs 1800 for two without alcohol
Open  6.30pm to 1am

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5


A TASTE OF HOLLYWOOD

HOLLYWOOD MAGIC ...CHEF HUGO BOLANOS
HOLLYWOOD MAGIC …CHEF HUGO BOLANOS

Hot, hotter and haute. Newest to the iconic legendary Los Angeles restaurants…  I am eating non-stop (guided by my friend, the LA Times food critic, Irene Verbila). Here reality is more exciting than fantasy. See the accompanying photo and you’ll know what I mean. Long necked swans glide gently past
Wolfgang Puck’s (America’s uncrowned King of chefs)  restaurant as his multi-talented executive chef Hugo Bolanos conjures up the most exciting Californian produce driven dishes. Here in Belair, amid the serene,  the worlds most  romantic  12 acres of lush green paradise,  Hollywood legends like Grace Kelly , Marilyn Monroe have lived and dined for over 5 decades. Even today this romantic haven is full of stars lounging in the Californian cool sunshine.

Here’s the hottest new three month old restaurant “Flores and ladies gunboat society” (Southern American fare to kill for). Mario Batalli’s “Pizzeria Mozza” the century old, open 24 hours “Pacific dining car”remain favorites . Quite the opposite is Jose Andres cutting edge “Bazar” as good as ever.  Ive just received the most precious courier (from Napa valley) the  of the most luscious peaches and pluots  from the worlds most legendary fruit grower “Frog Hollow farm”. All thanks to our very own globetrotting gourmet and finance whiz  Arjun Divecha. Meanwhile the swans are gliding gently as I savor Wolfgang Puck’s signature steak over sundaybrunch and hey! Lionel Richie is on my neighboring table.  I have stars in my eyes…and hey waiter is that a star in my soup?

PS Should you need more info on LA eateries please mailrashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com FB, instagram, twitter @rashmiudaysingh