Review: China Bistro

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Some of the dishes are creatively served (jars and cutting glasses) but right through it’s the casual, no pretentious vibe and the VFM pricing which comes up tops. If only there was consistency in the cooking..

Read my detailed review on: https://whatshot.in/mumbai/does-chemburs-china-bistro-live-up-to-its-town-counterpart-r-9826

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Chennai Charms

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I’ve been doing it again and again. Traveling the world but always circling back to Chennai. In fact, in EACH AND EVERY COLUMN there is a local “Foodline” with the latest on Chennai’s home catering and baking as my Chennai based assistant Anjali keeps a tab and has been doing so for over 15 years.

I’ve been flying in from Mumbai and setting up “whats hot tasting sessions” past several years. And with each session I get even more impressed with the enterprise and hard work of the home caterers here. Heres a sampling

ANITHA UDAYA KUMAR

Looking for healthy cakes? Yes! There is such a thing.  This therapeutic yoga trainer’s latest offerings are very exciting…cakes made of 100% whole wheat or ragi or millet. She also bakes without egg , butter and no sugar too. And ensures they are tasty.
Anitha Udayakumar, home baker for the past 4 years is talented and hardworking and takes the name of her company “Fresh Cake Zone” very seriously. She buys only the finest ingredients from Nilgiris and bakes fresh every time she receives an order to do so (she needs  1-2 days prior notice) The staff of Pazamudirnilayam and Nilgiris bulk orders to orphanages.
My other hobbies are painting, fashion designing, swimming and I’m a therapeutic yoga trainer too. Her hot selling cakes  are eggless butterscotch, EGGLESS choco truffle, tea cakes. She also bakes wedding cakes, birthday cakes et al. And teaches too. She has added on basic baking classes, advanced buttercream class, Barbie cake making class, and a chocolate making class too.

14/38,A5, kailash flats, mangadu st,

Nungambakkam

9003030816, 8825537479 (watsapp)

CHENNAI FOODLINE

The Chennai home baker scene continues to sizzle and sparkle. Here’s the latest.

Ranjini from Adyar makes organic vegan chocolate and peanut butter cupcakes.  Ph. 97892-54650. The cupcakes can be customised to requirements of the customer ( ratio of the chocolate to the peanut butter.)

Bhavna Arya from Intox homemade ice creams has two brand new flavours: sugarfree matcha japanese green tea with honey and almond slivers, and sugarfree green coffee beans roasted with cranberry chunks. Call 195001-13344 to book your jar.

R Sivakumar has fresh and homemade sambhar, rasam and turmeric powder and mulitgrain mix also available. Mail ramkumarpn@hotmail.com or call  98848-51119 I can even supply in bulk.

Kumar is offering home made passion fruit  juice without any no colours or essence. Dilution 1: 4. Call Kumar at 26157846 or 99626-37422.

Deepika from Aumly is taking orders for Peanut Butter & Dark Chocolate Granola made with organic rolled oats, can be used for a healthy breakfast or a snack. No need for added sugar thanks to the peanut butter and  preservative free Chocolate & Hazelnut Spread made using semi sweet chocolate & real hazelnuts (not essence) to make the spread. Order by Wednesday for pick up on Friday. Ph. 89 39 77 43 19. Address: 12-Z, Rutland Gate, 4th  St, Aroshree Kailash, Ground Floor. 48 hours notice required.

Reema’s Swad Cooking Classes schedules for vegetarian and eggless Cake Baking Class:

Date: 26th – 27th Aug; Timing: 11- 4 PM.

This class includes:

  • Baking Cakes and Cup Cakes in Vanilla, Pineapple, Strawberry, Butter Scotch, Chocolate, Tuitty fruity, Orange and  Litchi flavours.
  • Icing on Cup Cakes
  • Pineapple Pastry
  • Black Forest Pastry
  • Chocolate Truffle
  • Photo Cake
  • Barbie Doll Cake
  • Kids Favourite Choco Lava Cake and Cake Pops
  •  Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese
  • Blueberry
  • Glaze Icing

Highlights:

  • All sessions are practical sessions
  • Individual attention given
  • Printed Recipes
  • Sessions are exclusively for Girls and Ladies only
  • All material for the class will be provided

Contact Reema  at 89395-66195 or 49525790.

For any queries or recommendations, mail rashmiudaysingh2017@gmail.com and anjalisharma966@gmail.com or call  98840 65010.

VIENNA WOWS

I write from the dazzlingly beautiful capital of music, waltz, culture, psychoanalysis, art and food. And I write this while tasting the delicious hearty Austrian national dish of “Goulash”  Gulasch (adapted from Hungary). And do so in the most famous “Goulash and Champagne” restaurant of the very Austrian Grand Ferdinand. It is steeped in history: originally a 19th-century palace, it was bombed in the last days of the Second World War, housed Austria’s Secret Service headquarters and now combines luxury with history and modernism. It is the only Austrian-run hotel directly on the Ringstraße, the main artery of Vienna. The perfect place to sit with Leo Cyrzyk  and watch the world go by and taste Chef Jurgens authentic Austrian goulash. A delicious thick stew (which originated from the herdsmen of Hungary several centuries ago) Paprika is what adds flavour to this goulash of beef, tomatoes, green pepper.

Hungarian goulash traces its roots back to nomadic Magyar herdsmen in the ninth century. Shepherds cut meat into cubes and slowly stewed them in a heavy iron kettle over an open fire until the liquid.

Vienna has always been very demanding. The second best was never good enough. This was true for music, literature and theatre, in crafts, and especially in food. In the Gulasch & Champagne, one can sip the best of the champagne to the Velkopopovicý beer.

In times of the Habsburg monarchy the Austrian cuisine extended to Milan and Budapest. Just like in the “Grand Ferdinand Restaurant” which is under major reinvention. So meanwhile I sit in the Gulasch and Champagne, getting an authentic taste of Austria and raising a toast to Grand Ferdinand and Vienna. With the finest champagne of course.

 

Vegetarian Russia

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Russia surprises. And how. Firstly, it is glamorous and rocking and young. And the young modern Russian cuisine is equally vibrant. Even the so called Russian food has distinct French influences (during the Tsarist regimes). Here comes the biggest surprise…there are plenty of options for vegetarians. I research these threadbare in Moscow, St Petersburg and Sochi (Caucasian Riveria). Would you believe there is a sattvik, no-onion, no-garlic restaurant in St Petersburg? Its ten years old and run by a Russian woman.

And yet another surprise…due to the prevalence of Russian orthodox Christianity, Russians do not eat meat for six months a year. And remain mainly vegetarian.

But most of all,  it’s Russia’s dashing, brilliant young chef Vladimir Mukhin who symbolises the sign of the times. The dynamo multi-talented 5th generation chef creates delicious original masterpieces he makes magic. White Rabbit, his aptly named restaurant is the first restaurant in Russia to make it to the World 50best restaurant list for 3 years. I absolutely love the way his dishes look like food from the future, but have traditional tastes of the past and are made of only local products. I love his young, provocative, experimental contemporary Russian cuisine. And yes he not only has a vegetarian menu but also a vegan option!

Review: Canto Café and Bar

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Canto is not about gourmet food, it is a level headed response to our appetites for comforting, affordable food. And we welcome that!

Read my detailed review on: https://whatshot.in/mumbai

 

Caviar Capers

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Its an amazing opportunity. I’m not only in the home-country of  this supreme epicurean pleasure, but also in Russia’s only caviar restaurant where Russia’s only full-time vodka sommelier and most knowledgeable caviar master Alexander Dmitriev offers caviar master-classes.

I learn it all.. the very basics.. only fish eggs produced by the sturgeon fish (a prehistoric huge fish) can be called caviar to the types, preservation, history, telling fake from real. etc.

I taste the finest Beluga (made from the Beluga fish of the sturgeon family) caviar, it has the largest grains, is creamy, has a fishy flavour, of seaweed and even walnuts. I do a vodka and champagne pairing. I sip and taste Russia’s history in its 142 year old grandest historic landmark…Belmond Grand Hotel Europe.

Review: Toast and Tonic

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This is it. The go-to, drop-in new casual restaurant for enlightened (and not so enlightened) foodies on all budgets.

Read my detailed review on: https://whatshot.in/mumbai

Russia’s Veggie Wow And P.M. Modi

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I serve you a taste of Russia’s magnificent history and cuisine and with it a peek into our Prime Minister Modi’s most recent abode in the stunning St Petersburg. It’s awesome. It is Russia’s largest most beautiful Presidential suite and this is where our very own Prime Minister Modi stayed last month. It sprawls under a dramatic domed gold-leaf ceiling, has its own grand lobby and antique Carl Schroeder grand piano too. Two bedrooms, a private fitness centre, kitchen and this antique rosewood dining table under the magnificent handblown crystal chandeliers where we shot the photograph. In the past 142 years of it’s history, it has played host to global superstars, Hollywood movie moghuls, presidents and royalty. Bill Clinton, Whitney Houston, George Bernard Shaw and many more. The great Russian composer Tchaikovsky (my all time favourite) honeymooned here in the Belmond Grand Hotel Europe. This most iconic landmark has been witness to the history of the stunning St Petersburg.  Its Neo-Baroque and Art Nouveau building is now classified as a historical monument.

RUSSIAN VEGGIE WOWS
It is here in this icon that I get a taste of  Russian history, art, culture and food. Here is the surprise…also vegetarian food. Which of course would please our very vegetarian Prime Minister to no end. The multi-talented Chef Ian Christopher Minnis ensures the finest gourmet dinners here. He also oversees the amazing plethora of restaurants here. From St Petersburg’s most gastronomique L Europe restaurant (serving authentic Russian masterpieces) to the legendary caviar bar to the new Asian restaurant Azia which also serves some Indian dishes and has an Indian chef Dev Kathait. I do a tasting of their Asian vegetarian (including delicious dal, kababs and tandoori) in Azia. And request them for a second taste of the most amazing creation of pumpkin dimsum and he is kind enough to share the recipe of  the very traditional Russian Borscht soup (pure vegetarian). Chef de Cuisine Larisa Kordik conjures superb dishes (tandoor, steam and wok cooking techniques) and Ekaterina Vasiljeva not only helps translate but also coordinates everything seamlessly.

BORSCH SOUP

INGREDIENTS

Beetroot 160 gms/ Cabbage 120 gms/ Onion 20 gms/ Carrot 30 gms/ Vegetable Oil 50 gms/ Vegetable Broth 800 gms/ Tomato Paste 15 gms/ White Wine vinegar 5 gr/ Sugar 25 gr/ Black Pepper  0.5 gr/ Bayleaf  0.5 gr/ Lemon 5 gr/ Garlic 10 gr

Method

  • Clean & cut carrots, onions ( julienne ) and sauté in vegetable oil.
  • Add cabbage as well, ( the cabbage should be cut into julienne the same way as the carrots and onions. Gently sautewithout color to the vegetables.
  • Add tomato paste to the mixture, and gently saute a little further until it is not bitter.
  • Blanch the beet root in the skin until it is fully tender
  • Peel the  beet skin and shred  through a food processor, or Slice in thin long strips, (Keep beet juice  and add to soup just before serving.
  • Add vinegar,vegetable broth, stir and stew.  Add the bayleaf& shredded beet root. mix
  • In 5-10 min till ready, add salt, sugar and spices.( lemon and garlic)
  • Do Not boil hard as the color will disappear.

CAVIAR MASTER-CLASS

What better place to learn about and do a caviar tasting than in the home-country of this supreme epicurean pleasure? And even better in Russia’s only caviar restaurant, Caviar Bar & Restaurant, which serves only the best caviar with ice cold vodkas you won’t find anywhere else in the world. And I am fortunate to do so under the tutelage of Russia’s only full-time vodka sommelier and most knowledgeable caviar master Alexander Dmitriev.

Their menu boasts 15 types of caviar, 12 Dom Perignon vintages, 35 types of vodka and 15 varieties of distillate.

What is caviar? Interestingly, like only sparkling wine made in France’s district of Champagne can be called champagne, only fish eggs produced by the sturgeon fish can be called caviar. Russia’s been eating caviar since before the 14th century. The real black caviar comes from the sturgeons ystick. And this large fish (the biggest is Beluga) lives in the Caspian sea, Siberia and Sakhalin .
Caviar differs in colour texture and size depending on fish AND how it is produced. I learnt all about the production methods of production and preservation(which determine the taste and price of caviar)
Am dazzled by the types of caviar black caviar…sturgeon/ albino caviar from an albino sturgeon. Sturgeon fish family…Beluga fish is the biggest (oldest prehistoric fish) and has the biggest grains. Oscietra fish (16 types) Sevruga Sterlet (smallest grains) and Bester are the main varieties.
I taste the finest caviar, it is creamy, has a fishy flavour, of seaweed and even walnuts. It is intense creamy and not too salty. Is non pasteurised and made by the traditional method. I do a vodka and champagne pairing with it too and end up sipping and tasting Russia’s history in its grandest historic landmark…Belmond Grand hotel Europe.

A Taste Of The Grandest

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I’m tasting Russia’s history, art, culture, dance all in one bite of this classic “egginanegg” dish you see in the photograph. Its in the 142 year old high ceilinged, stained glass ceilinged beautiful restaurant “L Europe” the haunt of global superstars, presidents and royalty. Bill Clinton, Whitney Houston, George Bernard Shaw and many more have dined here. The great Russian composer Tchaikovsky (my all time favourite) honeymooned here and today is Tchaikovsky night here in the Belmond Grand Hotel Europe, the most iconic landmark, witness to the history of the stunning St Petersburg. So the ballerinas dance in the restaurant. The multi-talented Chef Ian Christopher Minnis who has created this egginanegg (egg, caviar in the bejewelled Faberge egg) ensures the finest gourmet dinners here. He also oversees the amazing plethora of  restaurants here. From the legendary caviar bar to the new Asian restaurant which also serves some Indian dishes and has an Indian chef. Our very own Prime Minister Modi stayed here last month. In fact, since Im staying here they’re flying the Indian flag outside the hotel too. Jai Hind!

Review: Su Casa

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In Su Casa the cheery, high ceilinged ambiance, the service (thanks Akram) and drinks delight. So even though it has a clichéd crowd pleasing menu with many a dish which lack panache and consistency Su Casa ends up offering a pleasant experience.

Read my detailed review on: https://whatshot.in/mumbai