chennai times

FEASTING REDEFINED

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It’s the first time ever. In less than twenty four hours, I experience the true taste and meaning of “feast” in all it’s multi-dimensional glory. Not just of gourmet  flavours, authentic  local cuisines but much much more. 
 I revel in the taste of the indomitable spirit and unrivalled cultural vibrancy of a city, of HongKong. 
It’s also a precious taste of a family legacy of the Cheng family. A tribute of deep love by the brilliant young Harvard educated granddaughter Sonia Cheng who honours the Shunde roots and life of her grandfather Dr. Cheng Yu-Tung in the magnificent Rosewood Hongkong.
I feast on HongKong’s glittering, stunning harbour view, as I do on my first time ever experience of Shunde cuisine and  both are awesome. 
I feast twice. I watch the hugely knowledgeable Chef Li cook up and then taste the amazing wok fried milk with crab and birdsnest. His skill and control of the fire and wok is admirable..And the umami caressed wokfried milk with crabmeat and birdsnest dazzles.
This in the  elegant Legacy House. 
Here, the Cheng family’s roots in China’s Guangdong province in the Pearl River Delta are reflected in the delicate Shunde cuisine served here. 
The Shunde cooking styles date back over 2000 years to the Qin and Han dynasties. With a natural abundance of produce and fish originating from the Southern China, regional Shunde cuisine is justifiably renowned for intricate, elaborate preparations that bring out the inherent flavours of the pristine ingredients. 
Home of Shunde cuisine Legacy house also serves the much-loved, Chinese favourites. I trip out on   the perfect Peking duck from Chef Li’s wok the most robust and delicious lamb and from his steamer authentic Cantonese dimsum followed by the chilled mango pudding sparkled with citrus. 
TARTS  TRAMS & CHAMPAGNE 
I get a taste not just of the finest iconic egg tart (Hongkong is famous for it) but do so while riding on the rooftop iconic antique tramcar. Its time to celebrate and Waldo Hernandez and his dream  team mind read and voila! There is champagne too. All part of Rosewood’s amazing “sense of place” curated experience. And this winds and continues into an amazing, curated, researched “Foodie journey”  of Hongkongs hidden gems. 
It’s a dream come true. Eating local with a local …for 10 hours. Continuing my passion for Delicious Discoveries Sniffing out hidden gems the best local joints serving the iconic eggtart and pineapplebun,  bamboo noodle shop, lotus root cake, dimsum  to the black sesame cake and lots more. The lovely Lotus Leung  guides me  through this nonstop discovery, peppered with wonderful anecdotes and stories and recipes Ending up at the deliciously authentic Sangkee 

restaurant (also a favorite of Sonia Chengs)

Should you want a list of the names and addresses please email me Rashmiudaysingh18@gmail.comhappy to share them with you.
TO THE MANOR BORN
In this magnificent vertical  65 storey estate
which pays homage to Hong Kong’s impressive
verticality, there are  also  beautifully landscaped lawns, verdant gardens and
terraces with fabulous harbour views. It’s a 
 homage to Rosewood’s origins as an aristocratic manor. And crowning it, is the exclusive Manor club
 I not only begin my day with the authentic Hong Kong breakfast, explore Hongkong all day, trip out on Shunde cuisine but taste the most deeply delicious hot and sour soup. And it is in The Manor club too thatI happen to meet the brilliant chef Sandro Gamba who heads up the exciting and diverse restaurants here.
And also (by a serenditpitious coincidence) the India connection.  Marc Brugger who helms the Rosewood HongKong is an Indophile who has not only spent time in India, (cooks a great fish curry too) but is also married to an Indian. 

And spearheading this amazing global Rosewood group and powering it with it’s unique magnetism is our very own dapper dynamic Radha Arora. Jai ho!

BOX

Hot and Sour Soup

Condiments:

10g Bean Curd – cut into Julienne

5g Wood Ear Mushroom – cut into Julienne

20g Dried Mushroom – Soaked with Water and cut into Julienne

10g Bamboo Shoot – cut into Julienne

50g Lobster Meat(optional)

10g Fishcake (optional)

 

 

Soup Base:

Paste Chili Bean           2 – 3g Vinegar       8g (Season to Taste)

Sugar                           3g

Dark Soy Sauce            2g

Chili Bean Paste           2g

Corn Starch                  5g

Salt                                 Season to Taste

Chicken Powder             3g

Sesame Oil                     1g

Water                              230g

Egg                                 10g

 

Method: 

Blanch all the condiments ingredients, keep aside.

Boil up all the ingredients of the soup base, add all the condiment ingredients and adjust the thickness with Corn Starch.

Finally add the Egg into the soup..

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Review: Le Cinq

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EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED

It’s been my passion. Over the years. To track excellence  and celebrate it. And while doing so…it’s the unexpected that kickstarts my adrenalin. And here  in this magnificent  Parisian landmark, I thrill to expect the unexpected. For almost a century, George V has been the epitome and the definition of Parisian luxury and elegance.

Le Cinq, it’s gastronomique restaurant been showered with three Michelin stars continuously. The sheer stratospheric excellence impeccable luxurious detailing has set a global benchmark. It has been home to the who’s who of the world. Located in the most luxurious part of Paris (where its secret aristocracy has lived for ages) the legendary Hotel George V reigns in its Franco-British aesthetic splendour. And amidst this exquisite Parisian splendour are two superlative surprises…Le George a down-to-earth Mediterranean restaurant   and an amazing all-vegetarian menu in LOrangerie, it’s other restaurant.

A DOWN TO EARTH MASTERPIECE

Simply superb. Superbly simple.No two ways about it. It’s the worlds most luscious onion, plump with flavour and melt in the mouth too. It took the brilliant chef Simone Zanoni  four whole days to cook it to his magical secret recipe, handed down to him by his grandmother. And this is just the beginning of the amazing masterpieces that’s sashay in. The brilliant young chef focuses on organic, local and grows his own vegetables and herbs. I taste one amazing creation after another infused with the chef’s personal influences and inspirations, such as the signature Le George dish the onion tarte tatin with parmesan sorbet. His creation of the Tomato tart with cacciopepe icecream dazzles.

Having worked with Gordon Ramsay, Chef Zanoni now helms Le George which has  been making waves ever since it opened and also received i. Le George serves up Mediteranean magic

And does so amid shimmering priceless Baccarat chandeliers, mirrors and Lalique crystal. Healthy and light fare  is all about “harmonious cuisine from the heart”  an amazingly balanced and healthy menu (plenty of vegetarian too).  This  Le George more than lives up to the royal legacy it has inherited, after all it is born to the iconic George V, the hotel of kings and the king of hotels.

RECIPE

PASTA PERFECT

Chef Zanoni’s pasta is perfection. He generously shares the recipe

Tortelli Ricotta Lemon and Mint Recipe

Dough :

-550g of flour type 45

-350g of egg yolk

-5g salt, 5g olive oil

Ricotta stuffing:

-500g of ricotta

-70g grated Parmesan cheese

-40g of pecorino grated

-20g of egg yolk

-Sel, pepper PM

Make the dough by mixing all the elements with the robot cut, knead, well squeezed and let rest in the fridge 2 hours.

Make the stuffing by mixing all the elements in a container and then remove in pastry pockets.

Spread the dough using a rolling mill to have a parte about 2mm thick, arrange the dough on the worktop and prepare hazelnuts of ricotta stuffing the size of your cookie cutter on the half of the dough then fold the dough on itself, then cut the tortelli with the help of your cookie cutter.

Cook the tortelli in salted water for 1 minute,

prepare a pan with water and half-salted butter, a pinch of pepper and 2g of organic Sicilian lemon peel, remove the tortelli in the pan containing the mixture then finish cooking in the pan and at the end added chopped mint, then set on plate.

 VEGETARIAN WIZARDRY

Great news! The one Michelin starred Lorangerie is presenting the most fascinating and gourmet vegetarian menu Ive ever tasted. When I wrote and researched the Worlds first vegetarian guide to Paris (published by Times of India and partnered by GeorgeV) I ate my way through my beloved city for two years. But this is the first time I actually watch the creation and innovation of a series of stunningly sublime vegetarian dishes.

And I do so in a modern conservatory of 7-metre high glass and–steel structure, which blends seamlessly with the architectural Art Deco style of the hotel with stunning views of the Courtyard  dotted with orchids.

Creative Sublime wizardry of simplicity… finest of seasonal ingredients dazzle. Take a bow brilliant chefs!

The genius Christian Lesquer of their gastronomique restaurant  and Alan Taudon  coax amazing flavors out of the freshest and finest of vegetables and present them with panache. Delicate gems of wizardry dazzle. And sparkle!

Along with Jean Claude Wietzel  we taste our way through the concise, seasonal menu in which tradition is updated thanks to elegant, perfumed notes and a delicate blend of flavours.

The chefs  reliably turn what’s already enjoyable into something very remarkable. And pure vegetarian too!

 

RECIPE: GOUGÈRES

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ITALY & FRANCE IN LONDON

CHAMPAGNE SHIMMER AND PASTA AT LONDON’S SUPERGLAM BAR, Guiliano Moraandin and Helene Pietrini

From freezing cold London, I send you a taste of sunny Italy and gourmet France. And to revel in both these, I don’t need to go out into the windy, rainy outside at all. Both are housed in the iconic, almost a century old,  stately landmark the magnificent Dorchester. It overlooks Hyde Park  and it fuses contemporary comfort with the timeless glamour and heritage of the property. What also excites me is it’s range of gourmet cuisines.

ITALIAN GUSTO

He’s a legend in his own right. The genial Giuliano Morandinhas been the heartbeat of the  fashionable buzzing see and be seen opulent Bar. Ofcourse as a bar manager he has played host to the whos who, his famous champagne shimmer cocktail (with gold flakes and complimentary lip gloss for the ladies)  continues to make waves in London. But now Giuliano, the bar manager is making history  by serving robust Italian flavors from his hometown.  Freshest of handrolled pasta, flavorful pesto, tiramisu…all made to his grandmother’s recipes.  Giuliano and his award-winning team of experimental alchemists shake and stir many a magical cocktail. He serves up the champagne shimmer to Helene Pietrini the lovely, dynamic director of the prestigious Worlds 50 best Restaurant Academy. We take a bite of the al dente pasta, go back for a full Italian dinner the next night and get happy high on the shimmering cocktail. All this in the  luxurious lacquered mahogany, mirrored glass, velvet and dramatic red bar!

FRENCH FINESSE IN LONDON

The brilliant chef Jean Phillipe Blondet at Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester.

It doesn’t get any better than this. At the three starred  shimmering temple to French gastronomy we dine in a shimmering cloud… fibre optic curtain at the superglam Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester.
I had dined here 11 years ago when it had just opened. It is better than ever. The dashing and brilliant Executive Chef Jean-Philippe Blondet ‘s French contemporary haute-cuisine is full of distinctive fresh flavors executed with a light and surprising twist.
We. try many a vegetarian masterpiece including the legendary cookpot. The signature “Sauté gourmand” of lobster, truffled chicken quenelles and homemade pasta; Halibut,
oyster and seaweed and Dry aged beef, artichoke and bone marrow dazzle.
——French contemporary haute-cuisine is full of distinctive fresh flavours executed with a light and surprising twist.
We. try many a vegetarian masterpiece including the legendary cookpot. The signature “Sauté gourmand” of lobster, truffled chicken quenelles and homemade pasta; Halibut,
oyster and seaweed and Dry aged beef, artichoke and bone marrow dazzle.
Restaurant Director Enrico Baronetto takes fabulous care of us.  We end with the heady chocolate light airy souffle and the traditional baba Rhum.

Ive been fortunate to dine at Alain Ducasses’ haute cuisine restaurants in Paris, Provence, Tokyo, NYC (before it closed down) and Monte Carlo (where I even shot my TV show). Celebrated  for his innovation,

attention to detail and dedication to both quality and technique, Ducasse reigns internationally supreme with the largest number of Michelin stars in the world. In all his restaurants Ive had these light, airy spheres of delight…French cheese puffs. Each meal begins with these. On my request Jean Phillipe Blondit shares the r4ecipe with us.

RECIPE

GOUGÈRES

(makes 2 baking trays)

A dedicated part of our guests’ dining experience, these delicate cheese puffs

are served warm and seasoned with paprika, black pepper, and Emmental

cheese.

Ducasse’s famed Gougeres.

INGREDIENTS

300 ml water

8 gr salt

240 gr flour (T55)

110 gr grated Emmental cheese

100 ml dry white wine

180 gr unsalted butter

380 gr whole eggs

1.5 gr ground black pepper

sweet paprika powder/ground black pepper (optional)

In a pot, make a choux pastry by combining water, white wine, salt and

butter and bring this to a boil.

Add the sieved flour to the liquid and continue to cook until a ball of dough

forms.

Transfer the warm dough into a mixing bowl and with a paddle attachment at

low speed, blend in the eggs little by little until fully incorporated and the dough is smooth.

Add the grated Emmental cheese and the ground black pepper and mix until

thoroughly combined.

Fill the dough into a piping bag fitted with a 10mm plain round tip and pipe little mounds (4cm apart), onto a tray lined with baking paper.

Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before baking.

In a convection oven preheated to 180°C, bake the gougères for 18 min-

utes or until golden brown and puffed.

Once baked, the gougères can be topped with additional ground black

pepper or sweet paprika powder and transferred to a cooling  rack.

Gougères are best enjoyed warm.

RECIPE: THE WORLD’S BEST FRENCH TOAST

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Its memorable. Its incomparable. I refer to the amazing spectrum of tastes, flavours, cultures that I am feasting on. Here in France’s most magnificent over a century old  landmark, Im not only tripping out on the finest French cuisine, history and culture but also the most amazing vegetarian masterpieces.

Prime minister Mody being handed the Plaza Athenee book by Francois Delahaye.

Any wonder this Parisian landmark is patronised by our very own  Prime Minister ModI (confirmed vegetarian) heads of state, royalty, movie moghuls, haute couteriers and superstars from all fields.

For more than a hundred years this landmark has exemplified modernity luxury and timelessness Helmed by. Superstar Francois Delahaye over decades it has played host. to. many a superstar. And our very own Prime minister Mody too.

  Haute cuisine and haute couture are being seamlessly celebrated here. And Im overjoyed that “naturalness’ cuisines’ vegetarian masterpieces are  created in Michelin starred maestro Alain Ducasse’s shimmering restaurant located  in the iconic couture landmark Plaza Athenee.

For some inexplicable reason vegetarianism is always associated with asceticism,  the opposite of luxury and with tasteless food. But here maestro Alain Ducasse busts all those myths. It’s a starry glamorous experience in every sense of the term…Luxury drips in ten thousand Swaroski pendants which dangle instead of chandeliers. And the hushed elegance coddles and pampers like no other.

Michelinstarred maestro Alain Ducasse points out “To eat more healthily and naturally is today both an expectation and a necessity that must be translated into the field of haute cuisine”. And this is done by using only  exceptional produce. “This is the cuisine I sincerely love This very personal interpretation is indeed, here, in my restaurant at the Plaza Athénée.” Concludes the maestro.

Alain Ducasse designed his cuisine at the Plaza Athénée around the vegetables-cereal-fish trilogy. Its amazing that here in this temple to high gastronomy the gardener is being given as much importance as the chefs.

Chef Romain Meder with his vegetarian masterpiece

It goes without saying that the brilliant chef in the restaurant Romain Meder, ensures that the technical base of French haute cuisine remains intact and delivers the most luxurious vegetarian haute cuisine too.

 The food is not only healthier and more natural, more respectful of the Planet but it dazzles with flavour and taste. Therein lies its memorable magic.

 I watch Chef Romain Meder in action in the gleaming kitchens and admire the way he delivers a free and nearly instinctive interpretation of Haute Cuisine, revealing the produces’ original flavour, from the noble to the humble, all exceptional.


THE WORLDS BEST FRENCH TOAST

Where did I find the worlds best French toast? In the best Parisian Michelin starred landmark, Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee ofcourse. I could write a sonnet to it and still would not be able to express it’s dazzling exceptional texture so moist plump with flavour. Created by Winner of the World Pastry Cup and several other prestigious awards

Meilleur ouvrier de France Angelo Musa and Guillame Cabrol.

Ive always been a fan of The French toast, whose recipe dates back to the 4th or 5th century. Over centuries and in different countries it has had different names aliter dulcia(“another sweet dish”)

 Arme Ritter(“poor knights”)But the usual French name is pain perdu interestingly translates to  “lost bread”, reflecting its use of stale or otherwise “lost” bread. There are many versions and names but heres not only the worlds the best French toast but also its recipe, generously shared by  Pastry world champion Chef Angelo Must.

 

French Toast 

 

 

Ingredients:

oatmeal flour 785 g

Salt 15 g

Sugar 111g

Yeast 330 g

Eggs 480 g

Butter 490 g

Method

Kneat flavour, salt, sugar, yeast and the eggs until the dough is soft.

Add cold butter in three times.

Knead again until the dough is soft.

Leave for 30 minutes.

Form a ball and then a sausage shape.

 Put it in a form  (height 15 cm large 15 cm long 40 cm)

Leave the dough for 4 hours.

Put it in the oven for 1 hour – 160 °C.

 And I actually have this toast at breakfast. The most luxurious way to begin the day…he amazing array of boulangerie baked fresh. Chocolate croissants, butter croissants, brioche,  sultana swirls
walnut and lemon croissants, chocolate and pistachio pastries and kugelhopf too.
The menu is in English, Japanese, Russian, Chinese,
Spanish and, of course, French ensuring that everybody can
spread the message to every corner of the globe that breakfast
at the Plaza Athénée is the best in Paris! And it’s French toast the best in the world.  Which it is.

HEALTHY SNACKING

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HEALTHY SNACKING

It’s been my lifelong quest…to find the secret of howto to dine non-stop gourmet and yet stay healthy. To continue to enjoy all tastes and flavours, to be able to digest it all and then go back for more. I wrote a weekly health column for a national daily for fifteen years. Produced, scripted, directed, presented 52 episodes of a health show on TV and through it all spent lots of time with doctors, specialists, ayurvedacharyas, nutritionists and more. And it was a common consensus, the source of health and energy was the digestive system. And to keep this system working in top form, it was essential to eat healthy (ofcourse) and eat a balanced diet (ofcourse) and to avoid snacking (possible?). We all feel like a nibble every now and then…so the question arises is there such a thing as “healthy snacking?”

Muffins without maida?

Ragi jowar bajra ones?

 Red velvet with beetroot? Healthy, sugar free cookies? Trust the charming baking grandma Maggie Naidu to think of health first. Her

2grandsons here from Holland, David Rehan Ravin vouch for these. As does the charming Anusree Nair who popped in just when I was doing the tasting session.

Healthy cookies: Maggie Naidu and gourmet Anusree Nair

Jasper 8E, Olympia Opaline, OPP AGS, 33 Rajiv Gandhi Road, Navalur, Chennai 600130

9841570111

Quinoa Digestive Biscuits and Naan Khatai?

Energy bars, made of natural sugars with  a low glycemic index… made of seeds, nuts and dryfruits?Pratima Manikandan’s ingenious bars and crackers are the answer.

Energy Bars made of Millet and walnut seeds, nuts, berries, millets and natural sugars to bring together a nutritious snack on the go.

All sweetened with the super healthy dates.

I love biting into the wafer thin, savory seed crackers made entirely of seeds and nuts.

Prathima Manikandan s unique home made seed crackers and energy bars

Prathima Manikandan

A-218, Bhaggyam Urban Ville,

Industrial Estate Road,

Thoraipakkam,

ph: 7358306633/044 48536641


OILS WELL THAT ENDS WELL

The good news begins : A fourth generation Agriculturalist, whose family has it’s own ground nut and coconut farms. She majors in Bs c nutrition and goes on to make cold pressed oils

 from their farm produce of coconut and ground nut in Chikballapur.

Wooden churners extract oils(Marra chekku method)

Cold pressed oils, Sabitha Rakin and Rajeshwsri Muthuraja

These cold pressed oils have no chemical additivesm no crude oil and the fizz shows purity

I m happy to meet 38 year old enterprising Sabitha Rakin

 And  Rajeshwsri Muthuraja  her mother in law who personally ensure and make these cold pressed oils.

They also have packets of Cows ghee…and this too is made from milk from their own 18 cows.

They need  a day’s notice.

Only home delivery…

Sabitha Rakin

Navins starwood Towers

Mambakkam main road

Medavakkam

+91 9176112121

WHATSHOT HOME-BAKER TASTING SESSIONS

I maybe traveling the world but I always circle back to Chennai. Ive been flying in from Mumbai and setting up “whats hot tasting sessions” past 15 years. And with each session I get even more impressed

Infact, in EACH AND EVERY COLUMN there is a local “Foodline” with the latest onChennai’s home catering and baking as my Chennai based assistant Anjali keeps a tab and has been doing so for over 15 years. We held the last one in ITC Grand Chola , which is where I tasted the healthy snacks made by  Prathima and Maggie and got to know all about Sabitha Rakin’s unique cold pressed oils. Should you wish to take part in the next whatshot tasting session please mail rashmiudaysingh18@gmail.com, anjalisharma966@gmail.com

RECIPE: LA BELLE CREOLE MARY

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TASTING TROPICAL PARADISE

I’m getting high. On  tropical flavours, but even more on knowledge of the rare and the exotic. And the waltz of local Mauritian flavours with French gastronomique techniques orchestrated brilliantly by the young local Mauritian Chef Didier Jacob. But first, let me tell you all about how  I lost my heart to the rare “heart of coconut palm” masterpiece.

OF HEARTS & RUBIES

I lost my heart to the rare coconut heart  & to the brilliant young chef Didier Jacob who created a masterpiece  from it. Then it is the ruby red jewel of slow cooked beetroot puree that dazzles. It is masterfully sparkled with orange spices the char grill beetroot kissed with star anise. Sonnets & symphonies of the finest of local Mauritianvegetables with classical frenchgastronomic finesse parade.

CHEF DIDIER JACOB WITH HIS BEETROOT MASTERPIECE

But first please take a look at the accompanying photograph with the  long 60 kilo cylinder from a 15 year old coconut palm tree that the chefs are holding. It  is then peeled open in front of us. It is delicious to taste raw and then  Chef Didier seduces with the lightest crunchy Coconut Palm Heart tartare sparkled with turmeric and its Carpaccio with  lime dressing.

HEART OF PALM CYLINDER

Coconut palms are known typically for their coconuts.
You can eat and drink the nuts in various stages of development and they are all delicious.
However, did you know that you could harvest the heart from a coconut palm and eat it?
The heart of palm is located where the green leaves start to bud from the trunk.
Under the woody palm, leaf stem is a soft, white center.
Removing the heart from a coconut palm kills the tree.
Thankfully, after each purchase of a coconut heart they plant ten more trees.

DISH OF DISCS OF HEART OF COCONUT PALM
CHEF DIDIER’S PUMPKIN CREATION

After that heart of coconut palm course, we move on to the Pumpkin,  a masterpiece of smoked nine moths aged Pumpkin, Confit Butter nuts, pumpkin puree with almondcrowned with crispy Spring onions roots The Green Asparagus Variation tantalises with with green apple, and it smoked Asparagus puree
The sweet finale painted on to the table of compressed fruit mascarponecream and more is fingerlicking good.
chef Didier’s years of globetrotting and working alongside starred. geniuses shines.through as he has evolved his unique expression of Mauritian cuisine with classical French influences.


LA BELLE CREOLE MARY

LA BELLE CREOLE MARY

Inspired by the warm currents of the Indian Ocean, La Belle Creole Mary is an interpretation of the traditions of the tropical paradise. Signature touches such as aloe vera juice, coconut, evoke inspired memories of  Mauritius. Derived from the Bloody Mary and Virgin Mary this cocktail and mocktail has a fascinating history. And Ive tasted it in all three of it’s  birthplaces, Mauritius, New York and Paris (notes on those follow). Here’s how to shake the   perfect
Mauritian, St Regis La Belle Creole Mary… INGREDIENTS
3 1/3 OZ / 100 ML fresh tomato juice
2 3/4 OZ/80 ML aloe vera juice
4 TSP/ 20 ML of Worcestershire sauce
4 drops of Tabasco sauce
1 1/2 OZ / 45 ML premium traditional  rum (optional if you want a mocktail)
1 pinch celery salt
4 mint leaves
1 coconut curl
8-10 coconut flakes, for garnish
1 slice of lime, for garnish
1 sprig of mint. for garnish
DIRECTIONS
Put the  tomato and aloe vera juices and rum (if you choose to). Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces, celery salt and mint leaves into a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir with a mixing spoon for I0 seconds. Strain into a stemless red wine glass and add crushed ice. Place the coconut curl on top. Garnish with the coconut flakes, slice of lime and sprig of mint.

In New York, I zoom in on the timeless yet contemporary, over a century old  King Cole bar at St Regis.
Originally founded by John Jacob Astor over a century ago, it is this
magnificent landmark where hotel history was made. The center of Manhattan social life.
not only did St Regis make history with all  newsworthy and
path-breaking conveniences (telephone, central heating) but is even credited with the
invention of one of the worlds most famous cocktails the “Bloody Mary”.
It was way back in 1934, Fernand Petiot, bartender at the famous King
Cole Bar, perfected the Bloody Mary-
the iconic vodka and tomato juice cocktail so beloved today. The famed
cocktail was created when Serge Obolensky, a well known man about town
whose penchant for vodka was in keeping with his
aristocratic Russian background, asked Petiot to make the vodka
cocktail he had in Paris. The formula was spiced up with salt, pepper,
lemon and Worcestershire Sauce, Interestingly,  the name Bloody Mary
was deemed inappropriate for the elegant clientele of The St. Regis,
it was rechristened the Red Snapper.

HEALTHY SECRETS

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It’s been my lifelong quest…to find the secret of how to to dine non-stop gourmet and yet stay healthy. To continue to enjoy all tastes and flavours, to be able to digest it all and then go back for more. I wrote a weekly health column for a national daily for fifteen years. Produced, scripted, directed, presented 52 episodes of a health show on TV and through it all spent lots of time with doctors, specialists, ayurvedacharyas, nutritionists and more. And it was a common consensus, the source of health and energy was the digestive system. And to keep this system working in top form, it was essential to eat healthy (of course) but also to have probiotics. Not too fond of popping pills (even if they are probiotics in a pill) I was thrilled to find the answer. Right here. In Chennai. A home-made solution…Read on to know more

DID YOU KNOW?

Of course, we  all know about probiotics and how essential they are to supply the much needed good bacteria into the system. But did you know…?

They have positive effects on the body like improving immunity, detoxifying the system, reducing inflammation, improving digestion, and providing the body with bio- available nutrients, vitamins and enzymes?  Energy improves, stress, joint pains, allergies reduce?

 Did you know that probiotics are found in delicious edible drinkable forms?

Ginger ale,  Kombucha, Milk Kefir, Beet Kvass,  Sauerkraut, Korean Kimchi, Hummus to name some.

And here’s the good news, these yummies are being made at home, right here in Chennai by the entrepreneurial Abha Appasamy  “I  started this for our own family to keep them in good health and we found that we were not catching colds and infections as long as we were taking them”. She explains.

that ginger ale is her latest and most popular product, and has had dramatic effects on some of her friends’ digestive issues. It is fermented with the natural bacteria present in organic ginger.

Abha’s Probiotics includes traditional fermented foods and drinks that have originated in countries around the world and

She personally make all the products and bottle them too to ensure high quality and food safety.

She ensures that all her products are 100% vegetarian and vegan (except for milk kefir.. )Natural, with no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.

and made from organic ingredients bought from reliable sources (  not exposed to chemical fertilizers, pesticides or hormones.)

 All packaged in eco-friendly, recyclable glass bottles too.

Lets raise a toast with a glass of probiotic ginger ale!

abhasprobiotics@gmail.com WhatsApp: 9962575684

Abha s Probiotics
Abha Appasamy and her home made power packed probiotics.

Abha s Probiotics 1

HEALTHY SNACKING  

If you love to munch and snack…but feel the need to do so healthily then Pratima Manikandan’s ingenious bars and crackers are the answer, as her quinoa Digestive Biscuits and Naan Khatai.

Go for the  energy bars, made of natural sugars with  a low glycemic index… made of seeds, nuts and dryfruits.

Energy Bars made of Millet and walnut seeds, nuts, berries, millets and natural sugars to bring together a nutritious snack on the go. Ask for   Millet and Orange,

 Vanilla and cinnamon flavors. All sweetened with the super healthy dates.

I love biting into the wafer thin, savory seed crackers made entirely of seeds and nuts.

That theyre a powerhouse of Omega 3 and 6 is a bonus.

Naan Khatai, made of wheat flour and brown sugar make them extra healthy and thankfully extra yummy too.  Quinoa Digestive Biscuits- Packed with the essential amino acids  are a must try.

Prathima Manikandan

A-218, Bhaggyam Urban Ville,

Industrial Estate Road,

Thoraipakkam,

ph: 7358306633/044 48536641

Pratima Manikandan (1)
Prathima Manikandan s unique home made seed crackers and energy bars.

Pratima Manikandan 1

WHATSHOT HOME-BAKER TASTING SESSIONS

I maybe traveling the world but I always circle back to Chennai. Ive been flying in from Mumbai and setting up “whats hot tasting sessions” past 15 years. And with each session I get even more impressed

Infact, 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. We held the last one in ITC Grand Chola , which is where I tasted the probiotics and seedcrackers made by Abha and Prathima. Should you wish to take part in the next whatshot tasting session please mail rashmiudaysingh18@gmail.com, anjalisharma966@gmail.com

Recipe: Cartagenian style beef with Temptation plantain and coconut rice

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WAITER, THERE’S A COLA IN MY FOOD

Unusual! Unique! First time ever! I taste a dish cooked in a cola. It has a strangely uplifting and cheering effect…much like the internationally renowned song “waka waka” (sung by the Colombian Shakira). This dish is her favorite…as is mine.  It has a memorable deliciousness that ricochets on my taste buds, pampers my senses and stays in my memory forever. And the interesting part is that it is not a funky, innovation or modern fusion dish, it’s a traditional  South American dish from Colombia’s beautiful, ancient walled city of Cartagena. And I taste it in the stunningly beautiful Legend of Santa Clara. It dates back to 1621 when it was a convent. Even now, every evening, there is the candle lighting ceremony done by the monks.  Here history, lives and breathes and then dapper Richard Launay who helms this landmark ensures that  along with high-tech all traditions are preserved. Nobel prize winning author Garcia Marquez has written an award winning book on the Legend of St Clara. Not only does the brilliant chef  Dominique Oudin cook up this dish but also shares the recipe with me. And it’s only on checking around and doing my research that I find out that many a president, royalty, Bill Gates and even the internationally renowned singer Shakira (shot into fame with Waka Waka) is not only a Colombian but also a regular at Legend of Santa Clara and this dish along with Arripas huevos (egg in a corn batter)  is a favourite of hers.

It has a long name and it s a dish composed of beef (cooked in a cola) plaintain and coconut rice. It has a masterful balance of flavours (savory and a kiss of sweet).

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Tasting Posts Negra with  chef Dominique  Oudin and Richard Launay in The Legend of Santa Clara.
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Internationally renowned Colombian Singer Shakira’s favourite dish.

 

Posta negra Cartagenera, con platano en tentación y arroz de coco 

“Cartagenian style beef with Temptation plantain and coconut rice”.

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Traditional Colombian Post Negra  dish cooked with a cola. 

Serves six

Posta negra 

       1

1.5 kg     beef  

350 g      white onion

350 g      carrot

1 clove    garlic

5 branches of  thyme 

40    cloves

20    whole pepper

1 stick     cinnamon

 580g       brown sugar 

 1.5 Litrescoke

 3 Lts       water

 14g  salt

 20 ml      vegetable oil

 

 Method

Take the beef meat, and clean it. Put half of the salt. Clean the vegetables and cut them in thick cubes. 

In a frying pan, heat up the oil and seared the meat on all sides. Clean the pan with coke and add all the ingredients and the water. 

Cook slowly for about 3 hours according the size of the meat.

Remove the beef. Sift the sauce and verify the flavors.

 

PLATANO EN TENTACIÓN 

“ Temptation plantain”

 

       6     ripped plantain

       450ml     Sweet cola (our icecream soda)

       150ml     water 

       100gr      sugar

       1 stick     whole cinammon

       10 Ud     cloves

        

Method  

Remove the skin from the plantain and cut it in 4 pieces.

In a bowl add all the ingredients, and put the plantain in the mix.

In a sauce pan cook the plantains with the mix and let it cook in low until you get a caramel liquid.

 

Arroz de coco 

Coconut rice

I have the coconut rice recipe with me, should you need it please email rashmiudaysingh18@gmail.com

To serve:

Cut the beef in thin slices and wash with hot  sauce. 

Serve with coconut rice and ”temptation plantain”.

 

LEGENDARY DINNER

As much as I trip out on the traditional beef stew (recipe above) I could with equal joy write poems to avocado weds mango to black garlic weds beef and treetomato weds langoustine.All in Colombia finest legend SantaClara s 1621. And that too by brilliant 27 year young chef Andres Segura .
Brilliant marriage of 
Avocado with the fresh tartness of green mango in a crazily addictive Cold avocado and ginger soup with Sousvide Lobster tail. The degustation dinner of modern Colombian cuisine dazzles.

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Chef Andrea Segura and the avocado mango masterpiece.

 

FRUITS OF LEARNING

My learning continues the next morning over the legendary breakfast… where chef Oudin escorts me through the authentic Colombian street food stalls… I even watch each dish being made. From the most popular 

“patacon” plantain deep fried,

“Arripa de huevo” egg in a corn batter to the superb, freshly brewed Colombian coffee.

And through it all the colorful

“palanquera” in her traditional dress sparkles the breakfast room. The palanqueras are the traditional fruit sellers. So I bite into the juiciest freshest fruit and keep learning too. Having my fruit and eating it too!!!

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Chef Oudin and the Palanquera. 

TASTING THE VEGETARIAN ICON

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 I’ve done it again and again. In the gourmet capitals of the world…Paris, London, Tokyo, New York. Tasted the emblematic dish  of  the seventeen Michelin starred maestro Alain Ducasse’s culinary philosophy. A symbol of “sincere cuisine”– a harmony of flavors– that is both respectful to the environment and to health. And that too in restaurants located in the world’s most legendary hotels. I refer to the cookpot…Alain Ducasse’s world renowned signature dish He serves up seasonal vegetables from the local terroir cooked in the cookpot. And this seemingly simple pot  is used from the stove to the table.

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DUCASSE’S WORLD RENOWNED COOKPOT…

It’s truly a “sensual”  dish with an aesthetic that cradles and caresses the food. It’s almost feminine and womb like and Ducasse’s inspiration for it is from his grandmother. “We must restart from the beginning, where the true tastes are […] the technique here is to reveal the flavour of nature,” announced this maestro many years ago. And this simply superb and superbly simple dish has a basic recipe which is the same across all of Ducasse’s restaurants, with the mushroom duxelle and at least seven local, seasonal vegetables. The pot itself is a design masterpiece that is contemporary and nostalgic ( created by Pierre Tachon  it owes it’s attractive curves and perfect proportions to porcelain manufacturer Pillivuyt)

Over the years I’ve been getting high on the cookpot in Ducasse’s restaurants around the world.

Be it London’s Dorchester, Paris’s Plaza Athenee, these finest of all hotels are reputed for infusing into their essence the glamour, excitement, and creativity of the people who have been regulars here.

Today I share with you my most recent taste of this dish in three memorable venues.

PARIS :LUXURIOUS VEGETARIAN WOWS

Please take a look at the photograph, shot in the gleaming kitchen of Paris’ most stylish address Plaza Athenee, which serves up the best of the best. Including Alain Ducasse’s shimmering temple to gastronomy which has the gardener’s name on the menu and serves only vegetables, grain and fish. Luxury drips in 10,000 Swarovski pendant-like chandeliers and it is here that I’ve had the most fabulous meals  coddled by immaculate service and brilliant attention to detail.

On this recent trip I not only had the most exceptional was fixated on Ducasse’s brand new book on vegetarian cooking (which the gifted Chef Romain Meder is holding along with the dynamic chief of the Dorchester group Francois Delahaye).

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 Alain Ducasse with Jean Phillipe Blondet  at the Dorchester (black and white photo by Pierre Monetta).
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 Chef Romain Meder with Francois Delahaye at Plaza Athenee.

GOD HAS COME TO LONDON…Dorchester

“God has come to London” swooned  critics when Ducasse set up in London’s legendary landmark  The Dorchester. I’d first dined at Ducasse’s  newly opened restaurant and went back several times again. Here reality is more luxurious than fantasy.   Amid the cloud, surrounded by a luminiscient oval curtain, Id gotten high on the classic French-driven menu  I still remember the tastes and textures of  the “delicate soft Royale of greens”  a glorious medley of vegetables with an ever enlarging circle of freshness. And of course that cookpot, heady and perfect.And I still marvel at how the grand hotel continues to tango with high octane young energy.

BREAKING NEWS…On the River Seine

Its making international waves. It’s an unrivalled Parisian experience. And its has just been launched. It’s a floating masterpiece of Paris history and landmarks. It’s been overbooked since it opened and it took planning ahead to get a table here.

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By the Eiffel tower, sailing on the brand new Ducasse sur Seine
…Ines Aouididi flanked by Herve Garnier and Ulysse Bour.

 I’m on board the brand new super luxurious restaurant “Ducasse sur seinne” that has just opened and is making international waves. As the Eiffel tower sparkles on the hour of eight,  Captain Ulysee Boar and Ines Ioudidi   flag off our luxurious meal. Luxurious dining gets redefined. Sailing & Feasting on Parisian landmarks and  emblematic French  food too. Serenditpitiously we are sailing past  my favorite Alexanders bridge when my favorite vegetarian Cookpot is served up. The specially-created, single-serving cocotte, delicious with spelt and violet artichokes is memorable. All created in the bespoke kitchens which sprawl on the lower deck Champagne sparkled the beginning of the dinner. And a parade of dishes sashay in as the silent electric boat glides to music. The meal meanders from the delicate Foie gras pâté  to the Chocolate  crispy praline accompanied by the finest wines, a symphony of the best French Crus. All this amid lighting by Franck Franjoy from lunar cold to candle warm, a coddling of  music and sound  and uberfab  interiors. And ooh! that cookpot…and yes! the maestro has very generously shared the recipe with me, should you need it, please do mail rashmiudaysingh18@gmail.com