A taste of history

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Making sweet history…Chris Ford and Audrey Slade.

I am tasting  a historic sweet union …France’s favorite cookie (the macaron) is being married to America’s favorite Oreo. The result? A sublime Oreo macaron.And presiding over the nuptials is the brilliant patisseur chef Chris Ford.  Pretty-in-pink  is yet another masterpiece of his. He is creating sweet history in  the magnificent  Pretty  woman hotel, which is the glamorous repository of  Hollywood history.  Beverly Wilshire opened in 1928 on the site  of the deserted Beverly Auto Speedway ( and now it faces Rodeo Drive, the glamor drenched shopping boulevard to the world). As Audrey Slade, who combines beauty and brains, explains, the pool is modeled after Sophia Loren’s private villa in Italy, Elvis Presley, Warren Beatte lived here for long periods. And even now this is where not just Hollywood but even Bollywood (Anil Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra et al)  lives and dines. Glamorous history keeps repeating itself!

Review: The American Joint

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Caution: do not get misled by the name. This brand new American Joint ain’t got no steaks or burgers et al. It is in fact, (hold your breath) pure vegetarian and focuses on Jain food.

Read my detailed review on timescity.com

Global Gourmet Oscars

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Dream team: Tim Brooke Webb (in a blue shirt),Rajesh Kewalramani, Gaggan, Charles reed, Helene Peitrini and William Drew of Worlds 50 Best.

I write from New York city, the scene of high octane excitement. The worlds most coveted Worlds 50 best awards are being announced in the historic Cipriani on Wall street. As chairperson of the Indian subcontinent it is thrilling to be  amid the worlds largest and most powerful gathering of superstar chefs (restaurants from 23 countries spread across six continents make the list).

The worlds best restaurant Osteria Francescana’s (Italy)  inspired, philosopher genius Massimo Bottura received a standing ovation. Our very own Gaggan Anand and Rajesh Kewalramani ‘s Gaggan Bangkok (Asia’s best restaurant)  was honored at the 23 rd place. Whereas Rohit and Rishabh Khattar and Manish Mehrotra’s “Indian Accent”, crowned best restaurant of India, 9th best in Asia was placed 72nd Blazing the way, being the list maker and the taste maker,World’s 50 best is helmed by the dynamic and dapper Charles Reed  dashing and efficient managing director Tim Brooke Web, the lovely and brilliant Helene Pietrini William Drew, the ever-helpful and equally brilliant Group Editor have recently been joined by Tiago Rastini. The  dream team cooked up a fabulous Global gourmet Oscars.

Review: Havana Cafe & Bar

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Are you excited by food? By travel? Does the very name “Havana café” propel you to come rushing to it in Colaba, in the hope of being transported to Cuba? It had that effect on us, we rushed here but alas! The food was anything but Cuban. But boy! Was I transported? Not to Cuba but to the most undiscovered gems in India.

Read my detailed review on timescity.com

The best of the best

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Top: Worlds best, Massimo Bottura, Gaggan of Gaggan. Manish Mehrotra and Rishabh Khattar of Indian Accent. Below Left: WORLDS 50 BEST DREAMTEAM: Standing Left-to-right: Laura Price, Stephanie Danvers, Tiago Restani, Tim Brooke-Webb, Charles Reed, Helene Pietrini, William Drew Kneeling: Vasu Read, Rikki Mudie, Emer Schlosser, Maria Olite Bottom Right: French Chef Yannick alleno.

This is it. The pinnacle and epicenter of global gastronomy, the guiding star for gastronomes the world over. The prestigious and highly coveted Worlds 50 best restaurant awards is the definitive “list maker” of the greatest restaurants and it is also the “tastemaker” for the world.This is also the worlds largest and most powerful gathering of superstar chefs. I write from the scene of action, from the bustling, cacophonic New York city.   In the historic, high-ceilinged Cipriani in Wall street, the awards are announced.. Featuring restaurants from 23 countries spread across six continents, the list provides an annual snapshot of the greatest gastronomic experiences across the globe. As chairperson of the Indian subcontinent, I have been attending these annual award ceremonies for over a decade.  This year, the awards got even more magnificent, they were hosted in New York for the first time as 50 Best begins a global tour of gastronomic destinations. Here are some quick snapshots…

THE WORLDS BEST RESTAURANT

On being crowned worlds best,  the tall, bespectacled passionate, inspired, philosopher genius Massimo Bottura received a standing ovation. Evocative, provocative and memorable! That was my 5 hour, 15 course mindblowing  meal at  his 50 seater restaurant which sits in a nondescript quiet back street of Modena, Italy. From the world-famous  theatrical dessert called ‘Oops! A broken lemon tart’ to the “beautiful spin painted beet” to the “lentil better than beluga caviar” flavors explode and textures are balanced.. Renowned for challenging the traditions of cuisine, using parody and ironic interpretations of food, Bottura keeps evolving  Italian food.

INDIANS MAKE THE CUT

In this rarefied gastronomic galaxy of superstars our very own Kolkatta boy Gaggan Anand (who is crowned Asias best) was given the 23 rd place. I am still not able to decide whether this pony tailed Gaggan is a mad scientist? A culinary rockstar? An impresario? Creative artist? Gaggan effortlessly reconciles contradictions.

He makes art and science copulate in his kitchen teases our mind caresses our intellect.

Our very own Delhi based Rohit and Rishabh Khattar and Manish Mehrotra’s “Indian Accent”, crowned best restaurant of India, 9th best in Asia was placed 72nd The brilliant and gifted Manish’s progressive Indian cuisine is inventive, adventurous and highly individual, yet respectful of India’s culinary legacy. The recently set up Indian Accent in New York, has been receiving rave reviews.

TASTEMAKER TALKS

Eye-opening and riveting talks organized by The Worlds 50 Best, are  an invaluable catalyst for all that is pioneering and path breaking in the gastronomic world. Brilliant French chef Yannick Alleno presented his fascinating talk on Cuisine Moderne,  as well as fermentation and extraction. Chef Mingoo of Mingles in Korea and Andre Chiang of Singapore gave their take on fermentation as a cutting edge culinary tool. And blew our minds with all the path breaking culinary work.

THE DRIVING FORCES…

Powering this gigantic and magnificent global operation is an amazing dream team.  Hailing from different parts of the world, each one is dynamic, creative, efficient and  empathetic. Helmed by Charles Reed,   Tim Brooke Webb,  Helene Pietrini  William Drew and Tiago Restani together with Laura Price, Maria Olite Stephanie Danvers, Vasu Read, Rikki Mudie and Emer Schlosser who keep the Worlds 50 best continuing be the Best of the best.

New. Newer. Newest.

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NYC news: Chef Ashfer Biju, Geoffrey Drummond and Francois Luigi.

I write from Paradise. Why else would it be called “The Big Apple”? Here, in this adrenalin-fueled New York city,  keeping tabs on all that is new is like jogging on quicksand. But here’s some brand new news from  New york city’s 85 year old iconic landmark which keeps reinventing itself.  Escoffier, the King of French chefs (and codifier of French cuisine,) did all the initial menus  at this magnificent  stately Pierre. Today,  the brilliant young Keralite chef Ashfer Biju is making history again. He is reimagining classics with a fresh modern seasonal perspective.  Can the American classic of Crab Imperial be immensely pleasurable on Naan?  We re convinced it is as we do a preview lunch in The Perrine with America’s most brilliant award-winning Food TV producer Geoffrey Drummond ( renowned for his shows with Julia Child to Eric Ripert,). Joint-degree holder from finest in America and France, the dynamic Francois Olivier Luigi who helms this exquisite icon not only ensures that it  retains it’s historic grandeur (hand painted murals et al) but also rocks ahead youthfully.

Review: 1441 Pizzeria

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I write my review (about South Mumbai’s newest pizzeria) from New York, the city of  some great pizzas.

Read my detailed review on timescity.com

France’s best kept secret

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Michelin starred Maestro Chef Arnaud Faye, Cyril Akimowicz and Lucie Rousseau.
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World famous Chantilly cream

I’m excited. I’m learning at a very fast pace. I’m also luxuriating in all the deliciousness of the experience. I’m in France, my most favorite country and that too in Picardy (where France was born), right next to Paris. I have so much to share and a space constraint, so am going to serve you, small DID U KNOW bites.

DID YOU KNOW…FRANCE WAS BORN IN PICARDY? And this in 486 when Clovis made Soissons the first capital of the Franks, in 486, and later Hugues Capet, was elected king of France at Senlis and crowned at Noyon in 987.

So you see how  this past makes Picardy the original French region?

DID U KNOW…  WORLD-FAMOUS CREAM CHANTILLY WAS INVENTED IN THE 17TH CENTURY ?  The bowl of cream you see in the photograph is no ordinary cream, it’s the stuff dreams are made of. It’s velvety, it’s silky, its Chantilly. It takes it’s name from the domaine of Chantilly  which is part of the regionof Picardy. I not only get a delicious taste of the crème Chantilly in it’s birthplace but also watch it being whipped into the magical snow that it is. It was first created herein the royal banquets centuries ago by the famous ood maestro Vatel. Its in  the picturesque cottage-like Restaurant du Hameau (in the grounds of the castle) that I taste the authentic version.  Along with Olivier and Lucie not only do we eat up the creme Chantilly (with strawberries) but I also go back In a horse carriage (this is the equestrian capital of France) and in the luxurious yet cozy  Auberge du jeu de Paume hotel’s spa, actually have a chantilly cream massage. This is what I call, “having my cream and eating it too” . it sure is the world’s  crème de la crème!

DID YOU KNOW… THIS FAIRY TALE LAND IS NEXT TO THE PARIS AIRPORT?

Not only is Picardy a fabulous fairy tale region but (hold your breath)  it is located twenty minutes away from Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport. It’s also within one of the largest most beautiful forests of the Paris region. Im just about getting over these pleasant surprises,  when like in a fairy tale, the Chantilly castle  seems to rise out of the tranquil lake. I zip through it’s finest French collection of ancient masterpieces, (second only to the Louvre) Picardy has carefully preserved the elements of true French lifestyle – medieval châteaux, typical French villages, spectacular seaside resorts, gourmet food, stunning cathedrals, cultural treasures, champagne routes, romantic gardens, and not to forget a certain French art de vivre…

From taking a boat ride on the Floating Gardens, to riding  Europe’s most sensational roller coasters at Park Asterix, I do it all

DID YOU KNOW … DESI FOOD PAIRS WITH FRENCH CHAMPAGNE ?

More suprises…not only does French champagne pair brilliantly with Indian food, but I do an actual tasting of both together. And that too in the historic, medieval cellar of Champagne Pannier. Even though Ive done a lot of TV shoots for my show in the Champagne region I had no idea that the Champagne Tourist Route runs through the Picardy region. A walk through with the champagne expert in the Pannier medieval underground cellar is an amazing trip into history. The guided tasting of the exquisite champagnes is equally amazing. But what blows my mind  is how the French not only pair their precious champagne with Indian kababs and curries but also make an effort to do so for us Indian visitors.  And this premium champagne is served in the l’Elysée Palace (French President’s house) and Air France Business Class too.

MICHELIN MASTERPIECES

Over centuries, Art in every form  has been nurtured in Picardy by kings and queens and llustrious families. Creative geniuses have from Vatel, organiser of extravagant banquets for Louis XIV, to Le Nôtre, creator of magnificent French-style gardens have been celebrated here. Continuing this noble tradition the elegant luxury hotel,  Auberge du Jeu de Paume,  keeps the flame of this tradition burning with its gourmet restaurant, Michelin starred La Table du Connétable.

Arnaud Faye honed his skills under the superstars of gasronomy fromMichel Roth at the Ritz, Thierry Marx at the Mandarin Oriental and is now a superstar himself. He serves up a mix of innovative ideas and revamped classics, celebrating terroir ingredients and traditional know-how.  From Adour salmon façon Bearnaise to crispy ravioli stuffed with green peas.Each dish is a masterpiece. Picardy pampers in every way.

Double Celebratory News

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DOUBLE CATCH: CHEF SRIJITH GOPINATH AND ASHRAFI MATCHESWALA .

Two. That’s the magical number. And it’s not about the two fleshy, Dungenes crabs that the brilliant young chef Srijith Gopinath is holding as we stand by the sun drenched SanFrancisco bay. Its about the two Michelin stars he has received. And here’s the amazing news…he is the only Indian chef in the world to do so. The night before, I tripped out on this soft spoken genius Keralite chef’s original Californian-Indian masterpiece in one of San Francisco’s most prominent century old, award-winning landmarks helmed by the dynamic and charming Ashrafi Matcheswala. Located in Campton Place, the throbbing heart of this beautiful city, everything is a hop step away. I dine at  Café Zoetrope owned by my hero Francis Ford Coppola (Godfather fame)  to the emperor of Peruvian cuisine Gaston Acurio’s La Mar. Luxuriate in the fleshy, shiny juicy cherries in season, dine at the hot new “Progress”, see the iconic play “Beach, blanket Babylon” . Finally, visit Café Buena Vista ( Irish coffee was invented here). We raise an Irish coffee toast to  chef Srijith. Two toasts.