If it’s the wedding of Chinese cuisine to Indian flavours (moderately priced too) that you’re looking for then “Oriental Spice” is where you should head to. That’s of course if you’re in the vicinity of Thane.
Read my detailed review on: https://whatshot.in/mumbai
Its true. A photograph is worth a thousand words. This one which I shot (on the glamorous rooftop lounge of Moscow’s most luxurious and iconic hotel) speaks volumes. We are overlooking the spectacularly beautiful Red square (flanked by the Kremlin and the cathedrals) which has been witness to centuries of Russian history and culture and art. It continues to throb with the vibrance of modern Moscow. The focus of the photograph is the knowledgable and brilliant French executive chef Yoann Barnard who not only knows Russian cuisine really well but also explains the centuries of connection between French and Russian cuisines. At my request, he is holding my favourite Russian Syrniki. It also seems to be the favourite of Russians because it is eaten at breakfast, lunch and dinner. It can be eaten as a dessert too (its has a mild sweetness) and heres the surprise…it is vegetarian.It is made of paneer or cottage cheese (chef Bernard generously shares its recipe with us). So you see how in one photograph there is history, culture, the Franco-Russian culinary connection and the vegetarian aspect of Russian cuisine. And adding yet another dimension is the fact that I shot this photograph in Moscow’s uber hotspot rooftop lounge, perched on the Ritz Carlton hotel which is clad in the classical gilded luxurious glamor of the Nineteeth century Russia. And this is the destination where the super celebrities, the young and happening parties and rocks together. This landmark of Moscow straddles the deliciousness of modern and traditional Russia and does so with impeccable signature service and graciousness…therein lies the magic.
THE FRENCH CONNECTION
Did you know that during the reign of the Russian Tsars, the nobility spoke mainly French? French food was the norm and many French chefs worked in the Tsars kitchens (including the famous French chef Anton Careme) and influenced Russian cooking. This French-Russian style continues to be popular even today. Chef Yoann Barnard explains how even the two cuisines have the same base.He works his magic through the magnificent restaurants of the Ritz Carlton. Here, where the dishes not only impress with their taste, but also delights the eye. Be it in the neoclassical Cafe Russe, the Lobby Lounge Bar in the style of a library with bookshelves and a fireplace hall also offers the traditional Russian tea ceremonies. The ultramodern rooftop restaurant O2 lounge serves up amazingly vibrant fare.
All these restaurants are housed in the super glamorous Ritz Carlton with its Russian Empire style of the nineteenth century gilded, shimmering glamor. It is here that I first taste the delicious staples of not only the Russian French cuisine but also learn all about the Soviet cuisine.
A TASTE OF RUSSIA.
I learn all about how Peter the Great (ruled 1682–1725), invited a French chef in his court. It was during his reign that Russians began to serve meals in courses, rather than to serve all the food at once. Interestingly when French chefs returned home to France, they introduced popular Russian dishes too.
Also very interestingly Ivan III (ruled 1462–1505) and brought Italian craftsmen to Russia who not only built public buildings but also introduced pasta, frozen desserts and pastries to the Russian cuisine.
Then of course came the decline of Russian cuisine…during the USSR or Soviet period (Revolution in 1917 until 1981). In this period all restaurants were owned and operated by the government. There were food shortages and inefficient store management and food became very basic. In 1981 President Mikhail Gorbachev started changing all that. Thankfully. And modern Russia began emerging. And there’s plenty more, of course there’s caviar, blinis…but that’s another story.
Delightful, soft and kissed with a mild sweetness, this all-time Russian favourite, Syrniki can be eaten on its own or drizzled with honey, sweet dressings, or jam. The ever helpful, brilliant chef Yoann Bernard who has travelled and worked all over the world takes time off to demystify Russian cuisine as do chefs Pavel Belyalov and Artyom Skotarenko. .
Cottage cheese — 200 gr /Eggs — 1 pcs/ Sugar — 10 gr/Flour — 20 gr/Vegetable oil — 20 gr/Sugar powder — to taste
Mix together the cottage cheese, eggs, sugar and form rounds with a height of 2 cm and diameter of 6 cm by 40 cm each approximately. Sprinkle a little with flour and cook it on frying pan in the oil on both sides. Put it into the oven (180°) for 6 minutes. Optional to devote with seasonal berries. Enjoy!
Foodie-ism is the rocking new “ism” of our times. Even highfalutin fashion brands have jumped in to set up restaurants and hotels. I’ve dined Dolce Gabbanas Gold (humdrum except for the gold bar dessert), Armani (worlds worst Caesars salad), great swimming pool in Bulgari (London), a Gourmet stay in Palazzo Versace (Gold Coast). So when the jet setting glamorous gourmets and real estate tycoon couple Anurag and Meera Bhatia invited me to Italian fashion czar Ferragamo’s recently opened “Il Borro” it became worth my while to stop in Dubai just for this dinner. Loved the sleek, glamorous Tuscan bistro and it’s traditional Tuscan flavours, snowy buratta to the salt baked fish, crisp vegetables (all flown in from Ferragamo’s gardens of Il Borro in Tuscany). Mukesh Luthra, chairman of his beauty and wellness global empire, sparkled the evening and we raised a toast to his birthday. With Ferragamo’s “Il Borro” wine of course.
Go for the quirky name. Stay for the Henpecked experience. Eat. Drink. Obey.
Read my detailed review on: https://whatshot.in/mumbai/go-for-the-quirky-name-stay-for-the-experience-r-9806
I was privileged to get a taste of modern era’s culinary history-in-the-making. It was a historic feast in every sense of the term. Never before have such great chefs come together and shared their views on the future of gastronomy… Ferran Adrià (Spain), René Redzepi (Denmark), Joan Roca (Spain), Massimo Bottura (Italy) and Daniel Humm and Will Guidara (partners; New York). Each of their restaurants has been at No. 1 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants over the last decade. The who’s who of gastronomy flew in to Barcelona only to celebrate the World’s Most influential giant of gastronomy, `World’s 50 Best Restaurant Academy’s’ 15th birthday. Since inception, the `World’s 50 Best’ has been shaping the global culinary landscape. It has once again created history. May your 15 turn to a 115. Happy 15th Birthday!
What happens when the French superstar bombshell Bardot slinks into the unglamorous Worli village? Voila! Mumbai’s only French restaurant (other than the creperie Suzette) “Slink and Bardot” opens.
Read my detailed review on: https://whatshot.in/mumbai/slink-and-bardot-charms-with-a-true-taste-of-paris-r-9803
I’m thrilled to art in sunny Barcelona. Every conceivable form of art, breathing art, seeing art, hearing art and of course tasting art. Over the years, Barcelona has been my most favourite city which has nurtured global superstars of art, architecture and cuisine. I’ve been a constant and ardent fan of trailblazers Antonio Gaudi, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and of course my culinary hero Ferran Adria. I have luxuriated in their immortal art forms and dining at Ferran Adria’s El Bulli was an experience I’ll treasure forever. And this time, thanks to my ever helpful friend in China, Vito Romeo, I even stay in the aptly named and the stunning Hotel Arts, designed by the globally renowned architect Frank Gehry.
Please take a look at the accompanying photograph, the intriguing flying Fish sculpture that you see, is named after a Spanish dance (Sardana) performed in front of the cathedral and for sure the Hotel Arts, while not a cathedral has a similar dominating presence. And standing below is the brilliant Calatan chef Antonio Saez , who at a very young age worked as chef de cuisine in a three Michelin starred restaurant. He masterminds the wealth of dining options here and shares with me amazing insights about Spanish cuisine. The dapper and dynamic Raul Salcido helms this 25 year old iconic landmark and ensures that it delivers superb food and equally superior service.
DINING IN THE ARTS
All under one roof; A mind blowing wealth of dining options, I dine at two Michelin-starred Chef Paco Pérez’s Enoteca. And am blown away by his sheer genius and creativity which fuses textures and flavours into a delicious parade of dishes.
Lunching on Michelin starred Chef Sergi Arola’s fresh ingredients straight from the Boqueria market is a treat.
Seafood from all the coastlines of the world dazzle at Marina, which is situated in the gardens with views of the Mediterranean.
Its always been my most favourite summer soup. The very simple to make, Gazpacho. Not sure whether it’s recipe finds place in the first ever culinary book which was written in Barcelona in the 12th century.
And though Barcelona has assimilated cosmopolitan cultures, over a 1000 years, it continues to hold it’’s own roots, culture, language and cuisine in high regard.
I am fascinated by this complex yet amazingly simple cuisine and the high state of gastronomy in Catalonia. And thanks to Chef Antonio Saez I taste and learn more about it.
Interestingly, Gazpacho may be served as a starter, main dish, or tapas. Its old and original recipe includes garlic paste, bread, olive oil, vinegar and salt. Chef Antonio points out “You can many different kinds of gazpachos. Cherry gazpacho, beetroot gazpacho or peach gazpacho”, he explains, “What you need to do is, change 1/3 of the weight of the tomato for cherries, peach or beetroot.You will have a totally different gazpacho.”
1.5 kg of plum tomatoes/400g of cucumber
150g of green capsicum/50g of onion
500ml of mineral water/½ garlic clove
250g of Extra virgin olive oil/25g of cider/ vinegar/ Salt
Blend all the ingredients, but not the vinegar and salt. Using an upright blender, blend for 5 minutes at maximum power, pass through a fine sieve and keep in the fridge. Adjust seasoning with the salt and vinegar.
Serve very cold in soup plates, finish with garlic croutons, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
MORE GREAT SPANISH RESTAURANTS
Crowned the “worlds best restaurant” five times over, Spanish wizard Ferran Adria’s “El Bulli” was a phenomenon. I was fortunate enough to have dined here, before Adria shut it. This is where Ferran Adria coaxed science to copulate with imagination and deliver brilliant surprises in texture, temperature and taste. His innovation of “molecular gastronomy” (though he hats the word) continues to inspire the world.
CELLER DE CAN ROCA
Multi-sensorial Techno-emotion cuisine seduces at worlds best (twice over) Located an hours drive out of Barcelona, the three Roca brothers fuse science, poetry, melody, into an orchestra of flavours & textures & memories & stories. This is my second dinner here and once again I come away thrilled.
My last meal at the Michelin starred Disfrutar (means Enjoy) more than lives up to it’s name. The brilliant chefs Mateu Casañas, Oriol Castro and Eduard Xatruch conjure a delicious extravaganza of innovative surprises.
I like to call it reverse colonial imperialism…the culinary kind.
For over two hundred years the British ruled over us and now we have colonised their taste buds. Here in London, the latest to receive a double honour is the world’s oldest surviving Indian restaurant. Veeraswamy turned 90 together with the Queen and was invited to cater for a banquet in the Buckingham Palace (for a second time.) We have heard it is the only restaurant ever been invited to cater for the Queen’s party in her own home. So when the golden hearted superachiever banker couple Deepak Parekh and Smita Parekh invited me for dinner to the highly awarded trailblazing restaurateurs Namita and Camellia Panjabi’s Veeraswamy, I dropped everything to dine in the elegantly modern Maharajah like room. We luxuriated in the flavours and textures of the Royal cuisines which retained their authenticity and yet had a contemporary swagger. A treat fit for a king…and queen!