Travel

Review: TERTTULIA

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I have a big soft spot for Pune restaurants. When I researched and wrote Pune’s first ever restaurant guide more than 15 years ago, I noticed a certain homespun charm and the usage of fresh ingredients here. Ofcourse, one cannot generalize, but I was delighted when Pune’s Imrun Sethi’s Terttulia opened in Dadar, mid July. That, here, I met two friends who have known each other for decades further added to the  charm. Just having flown in with Kamal Morarka, her jetsetting industrialist and politician husband, Bharati, grandmother of five, makes time for Bharatnatyam, Kathakali, classical music, handicrafts and ofcourse gourmet food. “Bharati’s  dinners are always fabulously organised with  exquisite food and personal artistic touches ” says her lively warm friend Nina Vasa.  Rooted in tradition yet modern, charmingly outspoken Bharati has us riveted. We enjoy the food, cocktails and Terttulia (Spanish for social gathering)

 

DÉCOR

This cozy Dadar eatery captures the clubby, chaotic spirit of a handsomely timeworn saloon :

floral sofas, mismatched light-fixtures,  birdcage. antique trunk, chalk art on the walls.mantlepieces with  vintage-looking knick-knacks…get the picture?

 

FOOD

All day dining here…burgers, pizza, pasta, steak, sandwiches , interspersed with some unusual dishes (  bite-sized Bacon ’n Parmesan Wrapped Dates, feta-stuffed  Portobello Mushrooms  are must trys). Veggies go for the flavorsome organic brown rice  with olives, tasty, thin crust pizza, well made paninis crunchy with walnuts and superb with artichokes.

It is chef Parag Naik’s unerringly roasted chicken that comes up tops in the non-veg options. The  Gooey chocolate cake lives up to it’s name.  Cocktail lovers make a beeline for the Ginger pear martini, Melon Sangria, Terttulia special Sunday sangria. Orange basil mojito is a must try.

MINUS POINTS

Sadly the  red snapper was not available. The  Rawas  was dry and lacked flavor. Ditto for the pasta and the Cremebrulee cheesecake.

 

MY POINT

Happy that this stretch of Dadar has got a restaurant like Terttulia.  Charming and open through the day Terttulia ‘s well-stocked bar area whips up a buzz at night.  The standard European  here aims to comfort and not dazzle. Comforting prices too.

 

Ground Floor, Hotel Parkway, Near Natural Ice Cream, Ranade Road Extension, Shivaji Park, Dadar (West). Fo 6002 0202
Hours: Daily, from noon to 1.30am

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5


 

DUBAI

Its cold and sunny here in Dubai ! And boy! Is it teeming with restaurants, gourmets, foodbloggers, foodwriters. instagrammers, tweeters (is that what we are called?). The high-flying,  media-baroness now sought after brand consultant Rita K Mehta, loves the cutting edge “Tresind”. Her gorgeous daughter Faarah, director of an elective educational academy and media house is also busy setting up her granpa (the legendary Russy Karanjia’s) foundation. They update me on all that’s rocking here as we dine at the brand new, super-glam Cle. I also  meet up with Dubai’s leading bloggers @secretsquirrelfood, @thehedonista @ishitaunblogged they guide me through the gastronomique maze of Dubai.  Michelin starred chefs restaurants rub shoulders with cheap and cheerful mall eateries. Want more info? Please mail rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, instagram twitter @rashmiudaysingh

THE EVERGREEN CULINARY ICON

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Australia’s culinary queen...Maggie Beer
Australia’s culinary queen…Maggie Beer

You’ll agree with me, that to meet a legend in her own kitchen is a treat. To watch her cook is even more delightful and then when this 70 year young sunshiny, cheerful legend starts to share the secrets not only of her cooking but also of her staying young, its time to raise a toast. Over the years I have been a great admirer of the Australian Maggie Beer, watched her on TV (Masterchef included), read her books and even tasted some of this cook, food author, restaurateur and food manufacturer’s delicious products. The list of awards conferred on her, is unending…from the Centenary Medal  to

the “Senior Australian of the Year“, to

Member of the Order of Australia and counting.

Maggie is an inspiration! She turned all the obstacles in her life into stepping stones. Her  parents faced issues with bankruptcy, she did not complete her high school education (even worked as an elevator operator) and has no formal training in cooking. Her parents became caterers and she went on to  establish  a hugely popular  Restaurant in  South Australia’s  Barossa Valley . I ate at her café (alfresco in the cool sunshine) and not only tasted but also bought  her range of gourmet foods, including Pheasant Farm Pate, quince pasteverjuice and gourmet ice creams.

TASTY TIPS

I’m fascinated. I watch her smile and deftly toss  and swirl and conjure up her signature dessert with her home made icecream. She smiles a lot and has a generous smile which lights up her eves and the whole room. Maggie explains that it all begins with your food shopping… “Think local and think seasonal” – it

ensures fresher food options. She advises to grow your own and to have a vegetable garden (Maggie’s is within 20 metres of her kitchen door)

We live in highrise apartments, I remind her. “Growing your own produce would have to be my best health tip ever, even if that means a tomato plant in a pot, or some herbs in a planter box on an inner city balcony, it will make all the difference to your cooking.” Put the season in a jar, is her next advice. Always cook from the heart, with ingredients at hand, never letting anything go to waste.

The time-honoured craft of preserving in times of plenty is one of the most effective guards against waste. So she advises the practice of making jams, chutneys, sauces and pickles, which means you will never throw away excess fruit or vegetables again.

How is she so positive inspite of her hard life in her younger days? “I love what I do” she says emphatically. “I, also, always wear rose colored glasses” she points out. Maggie values family relationships and ensures that she spends time with her two daughters and five grandkids. How does she stay so young and full of energy? Its all about eating fresh food, but food that is in season , no preservatives, “ moderation” are some of her tips. As is cooking with olive oil. Yes! she loves butter, but it’s all about moderation.

THE BEER OF BAROSSA

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LEGENDARY MAGGIE BEER
LEGENDARY MAGGIE BEER

I’m on a high and that’s not only because I’m in wine country. It is a treat to beat all treats. To not only meet the legendary cook, author, farmer, entrepreneur, restaurateur Maggie Beer but also to watch her cook, to taste her superb cooking and to take back her recipes. The amazing 70 year young exudes sunshine and youth. After a fabulous “picnic basket” meal by the lake in her café I go on a wine tasting tour in a sleek Daimler guided by John Baldwin and taste not only a 100 year old wine but also that from the year of my birth. Get a taste of Australia in Orana and watch the sun set in the Magill Estate as the young chef couple conjure up a memorable wine-paired meal.Should you want Maggie’s recipes or more info please mail rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, instagram, twitter @rashmiudaysingh

 

HEALTHY GOURMET SURPRISES

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A request! Please read what follows very carefully. Not only  will your gourmet tastebuds be satisfied but you will also glean amazing health tips that are not only useful but also usable.

I write from the heart-stoppingly beautiful heart shaped island country of Tasmania and am delighting in it’s healthy gourmet qualities. Ofcourse we all know about that it is Australia’s smallest state, has the most astonishing and diverse natural beauty, is a haven for wildlife, but I had no clue that Tasmania produced one of the highest quality of saffron in the world or that Sheeps milk cheese is infinitely more healthy than cows milk cheese. I taste my way through the picturesque landscape and here’s what I find…

SUPERSAFFRON

I always thought that saffron (the most expensive spice valued for it’s intense unique color, flavor and medicinal properties) was cultivated in Spain, Italy, France, Greece, Turkey, Iran, and ofcourse in Jammu & Kashmir. Imagine my surprise when I find it here too. That is, the crocus flower from whose  dried “stigma” saffron is produced grows here too. And behind it   are the most gentle but enterprising couple Terry  and Nick Noonan. They not only lay out a tray of yummies (scones, cheese) infused with their fine saffron but also explain how their “saffron tea” can heal macular degeneration, is rich in antioxidants  has antiseptic, antidepressant, anti-oxidant, digestive benefits too. Its a delight to see the saffron fields, to taste it…and to take home “saffron tea” for a friend with eye problems and the organic saffron for cooking up my “biryani” and “kheer”

KYA CHEESE HAI

Can cheese really be good for cholesterol watchers? Or be okay for those with lactose intolerance? “Yes! sheeps milk cheese is”, the young and brilliant Nicole Gilliver at Grandewe Cheese farms informs me.Sure!  Sheeps’ milk contains Vitamins A, B, D & E which are all essential to good health but did you know that Sheeps’ milk can contain up to three times more protein than cows’ or goats’ milk? Or that the calcium levels in sheeps’ milk are double that found in cows’ milk? But what blows my mind is that  those who are lactose intolerant can enjoy sheeps milk and it’s cheese because  there is  scientific evidence that proves the lactose in sheeps’ milk is far more tolerated than that from other milks. Since I do tend to be lactose intolerant I happily tuck into

Nicole Gilliver’s amazing variety of cheese. The well-informed Kim Dudson of Bespoke Tasmania takes me through even more of the healthy gourmet surprises here. I love the lightness and freshness of the Spring cheese. The richness of the vine wrapped one which she has created here. And the cheese is brilliantly paired with “pino paste” the sweet tangy paste from skins of pinto noir grapes. And we top off our fabulous cheese tasting with the amazing   Whey liquor and creamy rich

Sheeps milk icecream. All of this produced in Nicole’s family run. Grandewe 80 acre farm.

 

GINSENG REIGNS

Yet another surprise was walking into the Ginseng farm, especially since I thought that this was a root grown only in Asia. Well established as a, stimulant, and even useful in type II diabetes treatment, or cure for sexual dysfunction in men.Ive had Ginseng in energy drinksherbal teas and thrilled to find it in so many different forms here in Tassy. Grown here by the enterprising German couple Ziggy and Angelika Pyka of 41 degrees, along with their amazing bio-friendly salmon farm. I not only thrill in the walk but also enjoy the robust flavors of the salmon lunch.

 

PORT SMOKED

Okay! So Im well acquainted with the flavors, textures and health benefits of Smoked salmon, but imagine my surprise when I come across port barrel smoked salmon, rich in smokey, woody flavors? Doing this is the colorful Roger Scales  of Woodbridge who gets these barrels from France and it takes  6 days to complete the process. And the difference shows. In the Superb smoked Ocean trout too.

 

AN APPLE A DAY

Justifiably known as the “apple isle” Tasmania not only has over 800 variety of apples, but also it’s own apple museum and research centers. Im thrilled to visit these and also the 130 year old,  fourth generation Willy Smith and sons  organic aple farm and get a taste of their refreshing apple cider.  Bursting with goodness and health,, these crunchy apples delight .”An apple a day, surely  keeps the doctor away”

P.S. The final healthy fact that blows me away is that this heart shaped island has the worlds (Yes!) purest air and this is continouosly  scientifically monitored in Cape Grim.

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.