Travel

THE DEVIL IN PARADISE

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FOR THE BOX.

I write from this heart shaped island, Tasmania and  photograph two of my favorites here…the furry devil (only found here) and apples ( Mindblowing variety and tastes in this “apple isle”, apple museum too). I’m in the stunningly beautiful ( sunny but  freezing Cradle Mountain)  here I pet this Tasmanian Devil, am crunching on apples, feasting on the local, fresh food in restaurants and getting more and more surprised and seduced by this amazing gourmet island. From  nibbling on the most amazingly delicious  sheep’s cheese (double the amount of calcium, suitable for the lactose intolerant) to tasting the intense and delightful Tasmanian saffron (yes! not only is it grown here but is also of the highest quality). It is constantly scientifically monitored… that Tasmania has the most pristine air in the world ( yes!). Any wonder that here down under, I’m feeling on top of the world?

NU ORLINS COOLINARY

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I am a convert. Like Brad Pitt who lives here in the French quarter of this lively, crescent shaped city on the River Mississippi.  It rocks to soul-stirring music, birthcity of jazz (even the airport is named Louis Armstrong). New York, London, San Francisco have great restaurants but New Orleans has a food culture. It’s own indigenous dishes…gumbo, jambalaya, po’boys, muffuletta, etouffee, beignets, Bananas Foster and many more.  Ofcourse, it has great restaurants too and guiding me through them are high-profile, knowldgable New Orleanians. Ti Brennan ( generation-old Brennen family’s restaurants span the city), the city’s most eminent Cardiologist Siddharth Bhansali (also a gourmet cook and Indian art collector,)

Abhishek Bhansali, brand .

strategy consultant and co-owner of a restaurant chain, advise me on the greatest to the latest. As does  the lovely Gia Rabito from the museum of art. Our tried, tested and tasted favourites: The iconic Commander’s Palace (1880)  award winning Tory Mc Phael serves modern as well as traditional Creole masterpieces.  We eat Oysters ( chargilled ones) at Acme (1910) have powder sugar beignets and chicory coffee at Cafe Du Monde (1862)  Po Boys at  the hole in the wall Mothers. Coffee Pot ( superb jambalaya and Callas rice cakes.) Superb cocktails  and Louissiana small plates at the Brennen’s stylish SoBou. Feast on jazz in Frenchman’s street and Bourbon street, dine at the historic Arnauds  (1918). Our finale dinner at the luxuriously appointed “Grill Room”of the gracious and elegant Windsor court begins at the cellar with John Mitchel pairing the champagnes and wines, chef Daniel Causgrove conjures masterpieces that dazzle. Need more info? please email rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh

A TASTE OF THE SUPERSTARS

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It is right here, on the patio, overlooking Rodeo Drive, (the glamor boulevard to the world) that, over the years, Ive met Priyanka Chopra, Anil Kapoor, Gulshan Grover and Preity Zinta. Today, right here, I not only photograph three superstars of the hospitality world and my favorite French masterpiece of texture and flavor, Chicken Liver parfait, but also send you it’s recipe. This from the creative maestro Chef Thomas Bellec  from the ultimate winner of a symbol of Hollywood highlife and dining. As they say, if its Hollywood, its got to be the “Pretty woman hotel” (the movie was shot here) Beverly Wilshire where eight decades of Hollywood history distils itself. Every sexy, sleek square inch here bristles  with style and star power. It preens itself on the glamor boulevard of the world, the Rodeo drive. Hermes (creator of
the Kelly bag) and Ferragamo (inventor of the Platform shoe) share the
Rodeo drive with the glamorously elegant Beverly Wilshire. It is here that the prestigious and high profile               Princess Grace of Monaco gala, Ferrari s 60 th Anniversary was just celebrated. It is here that  Warren Beatty lived  for fifteen years. As did Elvis Presley.

MAESTROS ALL

It is here, in the legendary Beverly Wilshire, that the high priest of American chefs Wolfgang Puck’s cutting edge steakhouse has won many awards.It is here that French chef Thomas Bellec’s
brilliance at  sourcing local foods and
incorporating unique flavors into his classic French training shines through. He distils the
world on our plates. The multi-talented Chef Bellec hails from Brittany, painstakingly and brilliant makes his own  Charcuterie (has even introduced a charcuterie and beer night.) His menu at BLVD ( voted top “Power Tables” … Wall Street Journal) is in great demand. Having reigned supreme over Los Angeles, Chef Bellec is determined to put Beverly Wilshire on the world gourmet map too. Spearheading this legendary landmark (and three other hotels too) is the dapper,  well-traveled gourmet, Benn Trodd. Having completed his post graduation from London and led many a hotel to win awards, he is injecting energy and youth in this legendary landmark.

Also with us today is writer, communicator par excellence, Vogue fashion network, blogger styleguru, the very lovely, Carrie Mitchell who along with Ben Trodd sits on the  Board of directors of Rodeo drive.

Together the trio ensure that luxury drips in every practical detail
and human warmth marks every hi-tech comfort. From the Ferragamo amenities to Fine foods to gliding in a sleek Silver Ghost Rolls Royce (“courtesy” car to all their guests to go within a 3 mile radius of the hotel) is a routine part of the stay here.Beverly Wilshire makes it a habit to make each one feel like a
star. Therein lies it’s magic.


 

CHEF BELLEC’S PERFECT PARFAIT

Yields 4 portions

1 lb chicken livers, cleaned

 

Marinate with port wine (1 cup), 1 peeled halves shallot, peeled garlic clove,  sprig of   parsley, 1 whole juniper berry overnight.

 

Drain livers. Make sure the sauté pans are scorching hot. Saute livers, giving a hard sear (including all garnish). Pour livers into a bowl. Deglaze hot pans with brandy.

Blend livers in a food processor (robot coupe) until smooth.

Pass through a strainer.Season with salt, black pepper.

Add 1 whole egg, ½ yolk and 2 tsp heavy cream.

Finish with ground nutmeg, ground clove, raw brandy (splash). Check seasoning.

Pour into mason jars, ½ full. bake in a bain marie (water bath) in a 300 F oven for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool at room temp. Serve with baguette croutons.

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

NEW YORK NEWS

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Magic begins to happen when you land in this adrenalin fuelled aggressive city. Not only do I trip out in the latest musical “Aladdin” but also end up with many a magic genie. Like the vegetarian gourmet Shom Hinduja (a brilliant student completing masters in Columbia, is a serious cook, plays drums and discovers restaurants). Within 2 hours of landing, he blows my mind with the vegetarian specials in the most revered Japanese restaurant “Bar Masa”. Pure vegetarian Korean “Hungawi”, the cheap and cheerful “Han Dynasty” follow. Michelin starred “Eleven Madison Park” “Daniel” “Blue hill at Stone farm” serve fab veggie options. Budget friendly Totto Ramen, pizzerias (Rubi Rossa with heart shaped pizzas) come next. It’s Chef Ashfer Biju’s ( Two E at The iconic Pierre) outstanding vegetarian masterpieces of flavor and texture that thrill. I eat with a girlfriend at the hottest happening restaurant “Brooklyn Fare” (an 18 seater, no photos, no phones allowed) Japanese inspired mindblowing menu.

P.S. On my very last NYC night I have three dinners (at Uruguay Chef Ignacio’s Estela where Obama just went for his date night) wine at Corkbuzz with the charming editor of “Food and Wine” and then “Harry Cipriani” for gluten free pasta with pesto where Musical maestros Ayaan Ali Khan, Amaan Ali khan and Satya Hinduja share their favorite NYC restaurants. The discerning foodies, the Khan brothers are here on a 7 city tour with their father Amjad Ali Khan .

Want to know their non veggie recommendations ? email rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh

FROM DUBAI…BREAKING NEWS : YOU ARE NEEDED

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I write from Dubai and Im not only going to share some exciting news but also make a plea to you for you to share your inputs. Your tips on vegetarian restaurants in Paris made our book “A vegetarian in Paris” (published by the Times of India) comprehensive and also the worlds first. Now once again, The Times of India is all set to pioneer the definitive vegetarian guide to Dubai.

Guiding me skilfully through Dubai (and also through this fabulous Le Petit Maison restaurant, it has Indian owners I am informed) are two true-blue, well-traveled  Dubai based foodies who spearhead the dynamic Dubai Tourism offices and are it’s spokespersons. Hoor Mohammad Noor Al Khaja having worked in a high-profile government role in the Prime Minister’s Office holds a degree in Business Administration.

Mohamed Essa Alshaikh – double majored in Finance and has a bachelor’s degree in General Business and Administration. We  trip out on the worlds best French toast and Burrata here. Just this morning I had the most fabulous breakfast of an astounding array of  home made Lebanese cheeses, rare honeys, Egyptian omlette and waffles as lollipops in Nine 7 one.  Also dazzling   in the world class Oberoi is the Cutting edge Japanese Asian and an equally promising Indian restaurant.

Last night, along with the legendary Media baron Russy Blitz Karanjia’s daughter Rita Mehta and grand daughter Faarah we had attended the preview of Cle (Modern Lebanese by a Michelin starred chef). Dubai’s food scene continues to rock. Please do help me keep a tab on it… share your recommendations of Dubai  vegetarian restaurants (mail rashmiudaysingh.Dubai@gmail.com  instagram, twitter @rashmiudaysingh By the time you are reading this, I will be in New york, but waiting eagerly to hear from you.

 

CROWNING MASTERPIECE

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It doesn’t get any better than this. I’m getting a taste of the most sublime “lemon tart” which is made to the same recipe for the past many centuries and I am doing so on the worlds beautiful city’s most beautiful terrace. And it is acknowledged to be so even by the perfectionist Parisians. It has a 360 degree panoramic  view of Paris and it has the city’s landmarks within kissing distance of each other. Please take a look at the photograph and you’ll see the terrace we are on, you’ll see the Eiffel tower right there, what you cannot see in this photograph is the other landmark of Paris, The Arc de Triomph (which is also within kissing distance.) This picturesque terrace is not only located between historic landmarks but also crowns one of the city’s most loved iconic landmarks, Hotel Raphael. Did I begin this paragraph by saying “it doesn’t get any better than this”? It does. Because with me is the fourth generation owner of the Raphael, the charming, well-travelled, dynamic Veronique Valcke

Baverez. Her family Baverez, since 1898 has been dotting the city of Paris with historic landmarks, Regina, Majestic and ofcourse Raphael.I not only get a first hand account of the history of Paris and Raphael but also the recipe of the most sublime”Lemon tart” .  Every last detail (from the cuisine to the plants on this terrace) is overseen by  Veronique and her mother. “My mother loves roses” points out Veronique as we inhale their fragrance and are surrounded by more than 100 kinds of flowers,. lavender, Japanese apple trees, Box trees. We sit under a snow white linen umbrella, the terrace has a refined floral atmosphere in a Belle Epoque style and right next to us is the giant marble chess board, a tribute to the founder Leonard Tauber, also the cofounder of the chess club of France.

Chennai times
French elegance at it’s best, Veronique Valcke with her culinary team

 

SUPERSTARS SPARKLE

Movie buffs will instantly recognize the Raphael, because not only have many a super hit film (Love in Paris, Place Vendome been filmed here but many a film star has stayed here.) And this includes legends like Marlon Brando, Ava Gardner, Kylie Minogue.Statesmen, political leaders, academics, film directors, actors, writers have favoured The Raphael over all other hotels.

It’s not just the movie world, even the art world has been dazzled by the collection of original masterpieces here. These are normally housed in museums but find place of pride in The Rapahel. From masterpieces by Turner to those by Classical artists…Raphael is a mini-museum.  It even has origianl louis xv and xvi pieces of furniture, sofas, table et al.  The young patisseur Nina metayer bakes to the time tested recipes of centuries, Thomas Chagray cooks to classical ones too. Overseeing it all, is the vivacious Veronique who ensures that every last detail is a masterpiece. Like the Lemon Tart (whose recipe follows).

P.S. Interestingly,  the plot to eliminate a dictator was hatched in The Raphael and the conspirators were known as Raphaelites. I didn’t take part in any such conspiracy, but Ive succumbed to the Raphael magic and am also happy to be known as a Raphaelite.

 

Lemontart

 

Sweetdough

  • butter               300g
  • icingsugar        190g
  • almondpowder        60g
  • salt           1g
  • eggs         113g
  • Vanillapowder 2g
  • Flour                500g

In the butter, icingsugar, almond powder, salt, vanilla powder and flour.incorporate the eggs. obtain a homogeneous dough, keep in the fridge. Roll out the dough to 3 mm thick and place in the tart moulds about 1.5cm high on 7.5 cm diameter each. Bake  at 170°C

 

lemoncurd

  • Sugar                       480g
  • eggs                 500g
  • Butter                      400g
  • Gélatine                   3 leaves
  • Lemon zest              10 units
  • Lemon juice            10 units

Combine in a big pot lemon zest ( grate the skin) and juice.  Place the gelatine leaves in very cold water.. Mix it all, slowly little by little with a spatula. Keep in fridge. When its cold put the lemon curd into the pastry shell.

lime meringue :

  • Eggs white               200g
  • Sugar                       100g
  • Lime zest                 2 units

Whisk the eggwhites, add the sugar, add  the lime zest more delicately with aspatula.Garnish the lemon tart with a piping bag. Bake for a few seconds in the ovenjust for a little color

OOOH CALCUTTA

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I go back to my city of joy regularly…I have shot TV shows, eaten at and written about (sometimes all three at the same time) many a favourite place  here..be it Jhalmoodi and puckas on Russel street, Chinese in Tangra, breakfast on the street in Bentick street,  Bhojohari Manna, Oh Calcutta,  6 Ballygunge, Kewpies, Mocambo Jhalfarezi, Nizams (Flurys is not on my list). Rossogullas, sandesh and kheerkadam capital, (Nakur, Ballaram Mullik, my favourites). Was fortunate enough to be invited to my  brother’s birthday banquet to the latest, hottest happening restaurant making waves in Kolkatta…Yauatcha (in Sanjeev Goenka’s brand new mall). It was as good as ever.  Next trip, am going to eat club kachori, Kesariya jalebi at  Gupta brothers new Alipore (recommended by @justcookies_mumbai) Also

Anjan Chatterjee’s Mezzuna, Shaun Kenworthy’s——- Tea at Mrs magpie, Aaheli at Peerless Inn (recommended by chocolate_and_zucchini Sliders at Smokehouse Deli, Cocomalai and daab sherbet in Paramount shakes in college street  (@dishabrokenwings) @anamikachatterjee @skydiverprotima thanks for your recommendations.

P.S. My timeless Calcutta favourites? The 125 year old  Chittaaranjan rossogulla and rabdi, 2 century old Royal Calcutta Golf Club and the gracious,iconic Oberoi Grand,  which work the Calcutta magic..

Gaggan Rockup in Mumbai

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The wow never wavered. I loved every moment of   hosting  the Gagganrockup (not popup, please note) alongwith Timescity.com
It was a rocking exclusive 5 hour gastronomical experience. Flamboyant, articulate  36 year old, Kolkatta born Gaggan Anand, globally acknowledged for his cutting edge Bangkok restaurant (Gaggan. Judged as Asias 3rd best and no 17 on the Worlds 50 list)) performed (that’s the only word) thru the evening, wearing his signature golden. Onitsuka Tiger keds et al.   Along with his 6 member team (4 nationalities) he used science to deliver traditional indian flavors thru a 15 course dinner(be it the quivering white orb
which exploded with thepapdi chaat flavor or an ethereal dhokla). In the Four Seasons  swish “The Kitchen at The Mansion”     applauding his   wizardry and relishing his magic were the creme da la creme of gastronomes….
… Ambika Hinduja, Raman Macker, Riyaaz Amlani AD and Sabina Singh, Sanjeev and Alyona Kapoor,   Jay Singh, Shobhaa De with Arundhati,  Avantikka and Pramod. Farokh Khambata, zeba and Rajesh Kohli,  Kabir Bedi wt Parveen Dusanj. Camelia Panjabi, Aroon Purie Kalli Purie, Gayatri Rangachari Shah, Anil Dharkar. Amy Fernandes. Also present was the dashing young brigade of Anandita De Raaj Sanghavi and Karan Bhojwani.

OOH! LA! LA! PARIS

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Breaking news. Even more magic is happening in Paris: Not just in superglam, rarefied gastronomique restaurants but also on the streets and train stations.I eat in the Legendary three Michelin starred chef Eric Frechon’s fabulous and affordable Lazare (in the Lazare train station) I dine at his gastronomique restaurant at the iconic Le Bristol (across the Presidents palace and also the President’s favorite) too. I not only catch up with Alain Ducasse (have shot my TV show in his Monte Carlo restaurant) but also get a peek into the about-to-open, high-profile super hush -hush Plaza Athenee restaurant. And then comes the surprise I love the choux puffs at Ducasse and Michalak’s street side  choux puff counter.

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Paris sizzles with high-octane newness and youth… For the first time ever I dine at a restaurant where perfume and food overlap. International perfumer Guerlain’s restaurant by Michelin starred Guy Martin conjures up their signature  perfume inspired dishes. I ’m thrilled  to dine with the dashing young Michelin starred Chefs,  Akrame  (of the 7 month old, Michelin starred Akrame) and the charming Executive chef of the Peninsula John Edern . The brand new less than a month old Peninsula dazzles  and right next to it, the fourth generation family owned Raphael continues to hold it’s own and weave timeless charm as I meet the lovely owner Veronique Valcke,   Coffee with Helene Avril at the Goerge V,  shopping at Maison de Truffe ,Hediard, calling on the Indian ambassador, Elodie Berta’s drive through Paris in the teensy weensy Twizzy electric car (which anyone can hire)  and lighting a candle of thanks at the Madeleine church …all this in two magical days.

P.S. Need Paris info? pl mail rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, twitter instagram @rashmiudaysingh