MY FLAVORITE KING & QUEEN
I write from the homes of my favorite and flavorite King and Queen. It is in these two exquisite Royal destinations that I get my first ever taste of two most delicious flavors. That King Alfonso XIII was Queen Maria Cristina’s son, that both set up almost a century old hotels named after themselves is fabulous enough. That both these palaces retain that gracious, royal touch and food to match is what makes the magic happen. They serve only the best of the best.
Its the best of the best. I’m excited to do a hands-on cooking session at the award winning globally acclaimed Mimo cooking school.
Today, I serve you the finest, most rare, little gems of green peas. They’re tiny, seriously tiny and explode with sweetness in my mouth. Rightfully called “green caviar” these peas are also called “tear peas” “guisante lágrima”. Highly prized that, once it is shelled, its value reaches around 200 euros a kilogram. Covered with a thin and fibrous delicate skin, which creates the sensation of an “explosion” in the mouth when I bite into the pea, it’s skin bursts and the sap and sugars are released. It grows in Spain only for a couple of months a year and I’m blessed to be here just at that right time.It’s delicious even raw, but gains flavor when it is slightly steamed or grilled.
I learn how to cook it in the Mimo cooking school is located in the gourmet capital city of Spain San Sebastian. Attached to over a century old iconic palace Maria Cristina beloved of the Royalty Hollywood superstars et al. Here, Chef Jesus Cabellaro and chef Daniel Luque cook up amazing versions of the same “tear peas”
This super glamorous palace hotel combines luxury and high-tech and this outstanding cooking school too. At the handsome, gleaming, well-equipped cooking school, Chef Patricio Fuentes helps me wear my chefs coat and voila it’s time for a hands on cooking session. Sportingly, joining us is the dapper dynamo Ned Capeleris who helms Maria Cristina. From the freshest of tear peas we conjure up many an amazing dish. I devour invaluable information about ingredients and cooking techniques from both.
The award winning Mimo, set up by Jon Warren is truly unique, It’s a food travel company whose culinary tours pintxo tours wine tastings are legendary. And now it has added on a private jet tour to explore the deliciousness of Spain and to take cooking classes too. Talk of taking gourmet to new heights!!
FIRST TIME EVER…
What do flamenco, the cold vegetable soups, gazpacho and salmorejo have in common? I am in the birthplace region of all three, Please take a look at the accompanying photograph. I invited the graceful flamenco dancer to be part of the photograph because we are in the beautiful, historic city of Seville. The birthplace of the flamenco.
We re in the historic landmark of Seville built by the Uber stylish king Alfonso XIII this stunning palace was built as a hotel owned by the City of Seville has a beautiful museum meticulously put together by the dynamic Carlo Suffredini. I love the Moorish Renaissance Baroque styles of architecture. The list of regulars is endless… OmarShariff, TomCruise, Sophia Loren.Im as excited to learn the recipe of Salmorejo, to do the Mimo tapas tasting tour with the knowledgable Aldaras as I am to take my first lesson in flamenco (in a flamenco dress from Lina, Spain’s finest flamenco dress designer ). I had no idea that it originated in the 7th to the 9th centuries here in Spain or that UNESCO declared flamenco one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Or that the beautiful
Gothic Seville Cathedral is the site of Christopher Columbus’s tomb.
King Alfonso XIII ‘s recipe for “salmorejo” :
Ingredients for 6 persons:
1 kilo ripe tomatoes
200 grms rustic white bread
100 ml extra virgin olive oil.
1 clove garlic.
Salt to taste.
Grated hard boiled egg.
Finley diced a corn fed Iberian cured ham.
Extra virgin olive oil.
Method: Wash well the tomatoes, it is important that the tomatoes are at room temperature before you blitz them.
Blitz the tomatoes in a kitchen blender.
In a bowl break up the bread to walnut sized pieces.
Cover with the blitzed tomato, and let rest for 10-15 minutes.
Add the clove of garlic and blitz again.
Lastly we add the olive oil, it is important that the olive oil is good quality as this will help to achieve a proper emulsion.And the end result will be a creamy and thick.
Spoon the salmorejo into previously chilled bowls and garnish with grated hard boiled egg, diced acorn fed Iberian cured ham, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
SUPERFOODS & SUPERSTARS
It’s a dream come true. Contradictions are getting reconciled,What invaluable combinations!!! Gourmet food with health. Luxury with medical facilities. I’ve been there, done that, but very rarely found these amazing pairings. But, here they are: in the throbbing heart of Europe’s fashion capital of Dusseldorf ( rivalling Paris & Milan ). And that too in it’s iconic two century old landmark , Breidenbacherhof . No! it’s not a medical spa, but one of Europe’s oldest most beautiful heritage landmark hotels, beloved of royalty and superstars from Prince Albert to George Clooney and it has it’s very own state of the art medical “Preventicum” and Pearl of the Aesthetic too
CHEF AND DOCTOR
No! it’s not a health restaurant.. It’s a landmark gourmet destination. My discovery begins with The “Superfoods” menu and a chat with the dapper dynamo Cyrus Heydarian (who helms Breidenbacherhof, ever since it reopened ten years ago.) I learn at a rapid pace as I eat slowly, relishing every morsel. The committed Chef Philipp Ferber who apprenticed in the Black Forest area (known for it’s gourmet cuisine) works in tandem for many of his dishes with the brilliant Dr Baumgart of the medical Preventicum (also housed in the stately Breidenbacherhof). He creates dishes which are good forthe heart, for etox, for diabetes et al and general well-being too.. And in the gourmet restaurant he offers 20 dishes made out of superfoods.
Ofcourse, we all know what superfoods are: well-tried natural products with a high content of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which have a positive health effect due to their nutrient density. But, did you know that? Pomegranate good for detox, can also keep blood sugar levels stable?
Or that watercress in combination with jogging or physical exercise causes the sweet hunger to diminish? Chia seeds Goji berries Honey Mulberries and many other superfoods are used in many of the dishes here.
Please take a look at the photo of the accompanying dish. It is a miracle package for detox (pomegranate) , for the kidney (beetroot) , and heart (watercress) and the chickpea has excellent protein. And ofcourse the starcast of vegetables has invaluable vitamins and nutrients. Not only do all these work together but taste good too. I request Chef Ferber for the recipe here it is…
Recipe for 4 people
- 250g chickpeas • 80g sesame paste (Tahini) • 60ml lemon juice • 60ml olive oil • 2 garlic cloves, pressed • 2 liters of water • 1⁄2EL salt • 3EL beetroot granules
- 8 baby carrots • 8 small white turnips • 2 pcs. beetroot boiled and diced • 50g pistachio kernels • 25g dried pomegranate seeds • 1 bunch of watercress • sea salt • smoked oil
Soak chickpeas, in water. Overnight. Then simmer chickpeas in a pot of fresh water for an hour. When soft, put into food processor with the sesame paste, lemon juice, olive oil, water, beetroot granules, salt and the two pressed garlic cloves. Until a smooth puree is produced. Rest puree in fridge. For the topping baby carrots and turnips (cleaned and boiled in salt water) and tossed in smoked oil. Arrange as shown in photo.
STATE OF THE ART AND HEART
Not only are the dishes state of the art, the service state of the heart, but their medical Preventicum, is both and is presided over by the highly respected and internationally recognized cardiologist Dr Dietrich Baumgart. Cyrus Heydarian not only hails from a doctors family but was brought up on the finest gourmet food. And to top it all, he also worked for more than a decade with the owner of the largest most prestigious chain of medical clinics.. and once again my learning continues.
At Preventicum you can have cardio check-ups, medical examinations, Performance Diagnostics to measure the overall endurance and performance, energy metabolism during physical stress et al.
And the highly experienced Dr Baumgart advises that while nutrition is very individual, as one grows older, one should not snack thru the day, but should drink lots of water, reduce animal protein, eat more vegetables and look after the mind and soul too. .
Not only has Dr Baumgart been to an Ayurvedic retreat in Kerala but recommends it along with all his high tech state of the art metabolic balance and blood and body composition analysis. Cyrus Heydarian makes time to do his regular checks at Preventicum in the midst of his high-profile job and travel. He not only always insists on biological ingredients being used in his hotel and home but also seasonal ones. Skiing, swimming jogging and most importantly eating right help keep this superstar hotelier and doctor stay ahead of the curve. Superfoods make superstars.
Mysterious magic in a bottle! Beloved of all, including royalty, movie moghuls, superstars from all walks of life whove stayed here. Please see the accompanying photograph I shot of this world renowned rose-petal jam and it’s creator the Swiss Patisseur extraordinaire Yves Matthey. It is in his jewellery store like cake shop that this gifted genius ‘s home-made delicacies that include the signature 1963 Mandarin Cheese Cake, pastries, chocolates and breads, that I first tasted this renowned homemade Rose Petal Jam. Originally from a small town in the Alps in Switzerland, the land of chocolates, Chef Yves passion for patisserie is all thanks to his mother, who enjoyed baking and making jam at home. Along with the helpful Jenny An I taste the world here.
THE BEST OF ALL WORLDS
It is fitting that this iconic rose petal jam is created in Hong Kong’s most iconic and oldest Mandarin Oriental. The epitome of contemporary luxury combined with Oriental heritage. Most exciting it not only has a collection of 10 outstanding restaurants and bars but three have Michelin stars too. And here with it’s emphasis on gastronomic dining there is equal importance to food and health too.
It is here that I get a taste of the world, all under one roof…Michelin starred Chinese on the rooftop, French by the Michelin starred Pierre Gagnaire. From Classic British to an Indian dish too.
It’s been reigning supreme as Hong Kong’s favorite dining room for decades.Any wonder that it has retained it’s Michelin star for nine consecutive years? It is here that the brilliant 38 year old Executive Chef Robin Zavou and his dream team serve up classics and many a time with a contemporary spin too. High-quality ingredients and seasonally inspired dishes.
A crustacean bar runs the length of the restaurant and I love the natural daylight and spacious seating, and legend has it that some of Hong Kong’s boldest business deals have been concluded in this very space.Princess Diana, Princess Anne,Prince Andrew,
Helen Mirrin and many others have dined under the moulded scallop-inspired ceiling and the handsome Mandarin Grill’s signature white lily floral displays. Chef Robin Zavou generously shares his classic Sole recipe. Should you want it please mail email@example.com
INDIAN AT CHINNERY
Delicious surprise! Here in Hong Kong’s iconic Chinnery (which was a gentleman’s club till 1990) I not only taste Indian food but on requesting, meet the Indian chef Satpal Sharma. All four brothers of his are chefs and Satpal has been working here past 19 years. The days of the Raj live on here, traditional British dishes, such as Roast of the Day and Fish & Chips, alongside a selection of Indian curries are served. The Chinnery offers the most extensive collection of whiskies in the region.
Food and health…Ive been researching that exciting connection for several decades. Here in Hongkong, Im over the moon. Reasons? Firstly It’s the cradle of Traditional Chinese medicine which believes in the intimate food-health connection. And even more so when I find that Hong Kong’s most iconic, the oldest heritage hotel has always had a Doctor of Traditional Chinese medicine in the spa. I book an appointment with Dr Clare Peartson and also take a long lesson from her on Traditional Chinese medicine’s view of Food. Please take a look at the accompanying photograph. It is not only the iconic harbour view of Hong Kong but has been shot from Hong Kong’s most iconic Mandarin Oriental. The dapper Pierre Barthes from France who helms this icon also very strongly believes in Traditional Chinese medicine and it’s belief in the connection between food and health. That this hotel gives equal importance to it’s constellation of ten fabulous restaurants ( three with Michelin stars) and a Traditional Chinese Medicine Doctor speaks volumes for this global renowned icon.
Is it possible? In one day, under one roof can I get a taste of the diversity, complexity and magic of Hong Kong? Yes it is when Hong Kong’s acknowledged best chef (and one of Asia’s top chefs) Richard Ekkebus wields his magic. In Hong Kong East meets West, classic weds contemporary, it’s gleaming glass and steel shopping malls jostle for space with fresh meat and produce markets along cobbled streets. It’s restaurant’s cape bustles with incessant energy and innovation. Fine dining and comfort food, dimsum and then some. Rising high in the throbbing heart of Hong kong, a slim, stylish skyscraper houses the Mandarin Oriental Landmark, two Michelin starred Richard Ekkebus is it’s culinary director. Here he wields his culinary magical wand with ease, panache and versatility. Please take a look at the two dish photographs. While one is the Asparagus dish from the pure vegetarian menu of Amber, the iconic best restaurant of Hong Kong, the other “Honkiedog” is Chef Ekkebus’s creation of a Hong Kong hot dog for the “Please Don’t Tell” bar on the ground floor of the same MO Landmark
Please take a look at the accompanying photograph of Amber, what you see in the background is actually a bronze chandelier that infuses the room with a golden, amber tone. Globetrotting gourmet who actively encourages Chef Ekkebus’s work, the dynamic and dapper Archie Keswick who helms this landmark is also a yoga aficionado. Here, in this golden Amber toned magical Amber I taste two Michelin starred Dutch genius Richard Ekkebus’s magic. The only Restaurant from Hongkong on the prestigious Worlds 50 best list and 3rd on Asias50best.
In this iconic golden-toned temple classical European culinary tradition tangoes with Hong Kong’s East-meets-West ingredient-sourcing possibilities, resulting in a deliciously sublime seasonal menu in Ekkebus personal style.
Of course I taste all is non-vegetarian signature dishes, but focus on his dedicated vegetarian menu. Vegetarian amuse bouche for all flag off the dinner Gems Of wizardry are served up as the four flavors Salty..(celery black bean caper soya sauce), Sour.. (lemon meringue at puree), Bitter (.and ice with campari and orange jelly), Sweet..(.jerusalem artichoke Tonka bean powder) kickstart my appetite
Beautifully presented Asparagus from Jerome hall’s in orchestra with peas and a medley of herbs is followed by the amazing parsnip which is chargrilled and every part of it is used in the dish and solidified extra virgin olive oil yuzu gel amaranth pearls add to.
The transition pre dessert of Buffalo burrata l strawberries cherry tomatoes refreshes as does the citrus dessert and prepares for the unforgettable. Cacao sorbet caramelized almonds salted caramel acidity of kalamansi which dazzles. Of course I did revel in his stunning non vegetarian dishes the signature Hokkaido Sea Urchin dish and also the Wagyu beef.
Love the sublime light contemporary notes that Chef Ekkebus orchestrates.
NO WASTE VEGETABLE COOKING
Kudos chef Ekkebus for using all parts of the vegetable. Like in the delicious dish of Parsnips, a masterpiece of textural contrast too. I request Chef Ekkebus for tips on using all parts of the vegetable at home. He advises making sure the vegetables are cleaned well and are preferably organic. Drying and frying the skin makes for a crunchy starter, be it carrots, potatoes, turnips. The skin of Tomatoes used in a broth adds a lot of color. Can make a dashi or infusion with vegetable trimmings.
PLEASE DON’T TELL
When the cult-status, speakeasy PDT from NYC opens in Hong Kong, what does the brilliant chef Ekkebus do? Creates Honkiedog for it. The hot dog which oozes with the taste of Hong Kong, the umami of it’s XO sauce of chilli, soybeans, seafood, and crunch of scallions and cabbage. And he does so with as much passion and gusto as he does when creating the parade of refined dishes in Amber. The talented and creative Adam Schmidt creates many a delicious cocktail and mocktail (including the cucumber based tuffnut tonic). Gladis young points out how this cozy bar with recollective design elements such as a copper bar top, herringbone-patterned wood ceiling and taxidermy adorning the walls is renowned for mixology, And making waves in Hong Kong is the edgy “Entertainment suite” party space with everything from a DJ booth to it’s liquid metal, spaceship-glow cabinets house popcorn, wine dispensers and other grown-up treats. And ofcourse, there is the spa with it’s yoga, pilates “The year of the earth dog” treatment, for sure the fusion of East and West has always been Hong Kong’s calling card, but here in the most expensive real estate of Hong Kong is an oasis of energised calm. A true Hong Kong Landmark.
This is the ultimate. It doesn’t get any better than this. Dining with nature, in nature, around nature gets redefined here. It’s a nature lovers gourmet paradise… and Im in seventh heaven. Sea, trees, forest, cave, stars…the worlds most unique dining experiences here. This Paradise is actually located on Thailand’s fourth largest but least populated island, Koh Kood – just one hour by private cessna plane flight south-east of Bangkok. Lers begin with the stars…
ASTRONOMY WEDS GASTRONOMY
Im tasting stars! Here in this remote and sensationally beautiful Thai island, many a magnificent dinner based on cosmic cycles and Biodynamic viticulture is redefining gastronomy. Do you see the huge telescope in the photograph? visiting astronomer and well-known scientist, Dr. Massimo Tarenghi used it to explain the relationship between the Cosmic/Lunar cycles and the pattern of water, earth, air and fire on our planet. Brilliant chef Kengo Tomita’ creates food to match these rhythmic cycles and the knowledgable beverage maestro Melroy Fernandes pairs it with unique biodyanamic and organic wines. As we dine on the lunar deck, time stands still in this magnificent back to nature Soneva Kiri surrounded by the shimmering Andaman sea. Love their philosophy of S.L.O.W.( Sustainable Local Organic and Wellness) life. And blazing global trails are the golden earted super achieverts Sonu and Eva Shivdasani. Their concept of intelligent luxury dazzles. It recognises the ability for luxury holiday making and care for the environment to co-exist with perfect ease. And here, its not just about serving up delicious experiences but also educating about the philosophy of Bio-dynamism and Sustainability. From identifying a marriage of food and constitution, counting the moons of Jupiter and peering at the graceful halo of Saturn’s translucent ring and dining accordingly… And my learning continues!
This unique Treepod Dining experience takes fine dining to new heights. Comfortably seated in a bamboo pod, we are gently hoisted high up into the tropical foliage of Koh Kood’s ancient rainforest. Along with the forever helpful Manjit Ghosh and creative chef Kengo, we gaze out across the boulder covered shoreline dancing with gentle waves, and we savour gourmet delights. And guess how these are delivered to us? Via the zip-line acrobatics of our personal waiter.
Ooh I love Picnics. And on a speedboat in the sparkling blue Waters of the Andaman sea it takes on a whole new flavour. Organic picnic lunch and refreshing juices et al. Can also rise and shine to a luxurious boat ride around the cove to view the spectacular sunrise breakfast of fresh breads, fruits, meats, cheeses and freshly brewed coffee too.
MUSHROOM CAVE LUNCH
Mushroom lovers (count me in ) this is your paradise. Unique private dining experience for specially designed around the resort-grown mushrooms. Dining in that beautifull silent mysterious cave while chef Kengo served up his masterpieces is an unrivalled treat..
The main dish is prepared in front of me and health and wellness benefits of mushrooms also explained.
P.S. Other than these unique dining experiences in nature…two other passions of mine are served up. Yoga and the finest chocolates.
My other favorite four letter word is yoga. This is my first flyingyoga session whuch I learn from dr Dinesh Singh after he does a clinical bioimpedence test and advises puriti. Juices. Liquids and an energising meditation work. And no! its not about denial If this isn’t paradise what is? Would you believe this? A chocobloc with premium chocolate room eat as much as you can AND totally free too. There is a “wall of ice cream” in a custom built glass freezer with over 60 flavors from the indulgent classics to the more adventurous. And the finest wines, rare spirits too… I do an educational and fun tasting with maestro Melroy Fernandes …but that’s another story.
Mind boggling choices here. Should I take a class in it’s most legendary cooking school? Feast in the Michelin starred uber luxurious restaurant? Dine on traditional brasserie classics? Or take a sip of history in my favourite author Ernest Hemingways favourite bar ? Not to mention that it has the city’s best swimming pool (perfect to burn calories and build up an appetite) Over the years I’ve been doing it all. One step at a time. For sure this ain’t no mere Parisian hotel. It’s a global legend. It is over a hundred years old and still in line with the times. It has not only been witness to history but has even rewritten history, inspired trailblazers and blazed many a trend itself. Beloved of literary geniuses (Hemingway, Proust et al) movie stars, fashion legends, this is the only hotel in the world whose name become part of our vocabulary and has even inspired the song “Putting on the Ritz” ( dress fashionably). Founded in 1898 by two of the worlds greatest names in hospitality, Cesar Ritz and the greatest French Chef Auguste Escoffieur it was the first to have lifts, electricity and private bathrooms. A few years ago it went through renovations but preserved its period furniture and paintings à la Louis XV et al. Christian Boyens who helms this landmark ensures that it continues to be the queen of hotels and hotel of queens.
THE GREAT TABLES OF THE WORLD
Whoa! So many stars in the afternoon? A few days ago, at the iconic Ritz, I attended the elegant and exclusive launch of the prestigious Les Grand Table du Monde 2018 (the great tables of the world).Only Michelin starred chefs present at the launch of this guide established in 1954 to “defend the values of great gastronomy and the art of living” covers 26 countries, across five continents and features 172 restaurants. President David Sinapian, presented the Guide and the ten new members in the salons of the iconic Ritz Paris. My co chairperson of the Worlds 50 best restaurant academy. Nicolas Chatenier flagged off the delicious afternoon with his welcome speech. And a memorial tribute to Paul Bocuse, caviar, oysters to Baba au rum and DomPerignon sparkled the afternoon. It was the brilliant starred chefs who lit up the afternoon. Three starred Alain Ducasse, George Blanc to Pierre Hermes and Yannick Alleno. And playing the perfect host was Chef Nicolas Sale. Ritz’s Michelin-starred restaurant L’Espadon (swordfish), shimmering with mirrors, chandeliers, Louis XV chairs, porcelain and silver cloches continues to provide the perfect setting for his imaginative creations. Fresh from a two-star restaurant in Chamonix, he brings a contemporary vision to luxury ingredients, as in his three-stage starters (lure, raw, cooked) like langoustine with caviar and a main course of Bresse chicken for two.
Named after the noble prize winning author (and my hero) Ernest Hemingway, this charming iconic bar weaves magic. Heres an excerpt from my book “A vegetarian in Paris” (A Times Publication).
“Just what do you think the renowned American author Hemingway did in this bar which he loved? Knock back martinis ofcourse, but, the unverified story goes that its thanks to his boozing ways that the “Bloody Mary” was invented here. “Make a drink which I can drink all day and which doesn’t stay on my breath” he boomed at the Ritz bartender “so that when I go home, bloody Mary cannot smell it”. Mary was the third (or was it fourth wife?) of this colorful, lovable author. Infact, after the World war and the German occupation of this hotel, it was Hemingway who was the first to bring in his buddies and “liberate” the hotel. The award winning mixologist, Colin Field helms this masculine, cozy warm wood paneled bar with leather chairs and high stools studded with his photos and of famous authors were regulars here (Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce to name a couple). On the menu are a few veggie dishes (artichoke platter, risotto) and many a Hemingway favorite cocktail too.”
And this time at this star among the bars (done up with original photos and letters from Hemingway) I once again elbowed my way into the packed space to chat with brilliant bar chief Colin Peter Field and request him for his Bloody Mary recipe. Should you want it, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org
It was an amazing dream come true…I attended a cooking class by the world famous Japanese chef Nobu at this legendary.
Ritz-Escoffier School of French Gastronomy in the Ritz. The ethos of the school is based on Escoffier’s words, “Good cuisine is the foundation of true happiness.” It offers training courses and workshops for amateur and professional cooks and I never miss a chance of attending one.
Im celebrating. Im saluting the trailblazing culinary revolution focussing on health, vegetables, naturalness that is taking place here, in Paris, the gastonomique capital of the world. I’ve been researching vegetarian restaurants around the world ( China, Russia, Japan too) and here in Paris I find paradise. This Parisian landmark is synonymous with Dior, Dietrich and diamonds. This is where icons and trends are born since 1913. And it is here in Plaza Athenee that the very best of the best, the Michelin starred maestro Alain Ducasse’s shimmering temple to gastronomy is blazing trails. He serves up the trilogy…vegetables, cereals and fish. It goes without saying that the brilliant chef in the restaurant Romain Meder, ensures that the technical base of French haute cuisine remains intact, including expertise and absolutely precise detailing for vegetable preparation, cooking and seasoning.
NO GARDENER, NO COOKS
Its amazing that here in this temple to high gastronomy the gardener is being given as much importance as the chefs. And there are several reasons for it.
Head gardener of the Royal Grand park de Versailles at the behest of François Delahaye who helms Plaza Athénée have established an exclusive partnership with the Palace of Versailles for the vegetables and fruits supply of the Alain Ducasse restaurant.
The freshest of seasonal Sorrel, squash, broad beans, zucchini, to shallots, rhubarb… dazzle. Also artichokes introduced centuries ago by Catherine de Medicis and were a runaway success at Court because of their hypothetical aphrodisiac virtues .
Needless to say, all these fruits and vegetables are never exposed to phytosanitary chemicals etc. Picked in the morning and in the kitchen with hours. The ever helpful Isabelle Maurin translates whenever I need explanations in the kitchen.
Starting off with the refreshing tomato water flavoured with hibiscus, a parade of masterpieces dazzle, black current in black rice, the kiss of beetroot flavour in amaranth seeds, the crunch of flax or sunflower seed and so on. This approach infuses the work of the talented pastry chef, Jessica Préalpato too.
What do Liz Taylor, Marlene Dietrich have in common with the Parisian landmark Plaza Athenee? Plenty. For sure, they along with legendary figures of the world of glamor and royalty loved to stay here but there is also a deeper connect: a delicious salad dish. I tasted this Salad Mc carthy for the first time in Los Angeles, in Polo Lounge, Hollywood’s most beloved and historic dining institution, when it had just undergone a subtle Tihany-style revamp to celebrate it’s 100th year .It was in Beverly hills (also part of the Dorchester collection) The Polo Lounge that Charlie Chaplin had a standing reservation, Marlene Dietrich, eradicated the “no slacks for women” dress code and dined here. And the gorgeous beauty Liz Taylor honeymooned here four times . Her daily favorite used to be the McCarthy salad . I loved it then and requested for the recipe too, Imagine my delight when the dapper Francois Delahaye (who I met just by chance thanks to my old friend Paul Roll) shows it to me on the menu and has it made too. Ofcourse here in Paris it has been adapted by Ducasse and diced bigger and softer. But I reproduce for you my Hollywood Polo Lounge recipe.
Beverly Hills Hotel McCarthy Salad
1/4 head iceburg lettuce
1/2 head romaine lettuce
1/2 cup grilled, diced free-range chicken
1/2 cup diced roasted red beets
1/4 cup free range egg yolk
1/4 cup free range egg white
1/2 cup bacon
1/4 cup diced tomato
1/4 cup diced avocado
Balsamic Dressing Recipe
1 c. Balsamic Vinegar
1 T. brown Sugar
3 cloves roasted garlic
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
salt and black pepper
Place all ingredients in a blender and drizzle in the vegetable oil to emulsify. Check seasoning
Arrange salad in bowl. Toss with balsamic vinaigrette tableside. You can vary ingredients according to your preferences.
Yoga and Thai salad? What does our very own yogic tree pose (Vrikshansana) have in common with the my most favorite spicy, sweet, sour Thai “Som Tam” (raw papaya salad)? I’m getting a taste of both inside a stunningly beautiful restaurant (Yes! You read that right). That’s only for starters, not only did I get the most authentic and delicious recipe for “Som tam” , the correct way to do the Vrikashana, but also learnt more about rejuvenation and the deep and abiding connection between food and health. I ve been writing about food and wellness for over three decades (including a weekly health column for 15 years and 52 episodes of a TV show on Health) but the “Asaya” experience here, in the stunningly beautiful Rosewood, Phuket is incomparable. It’s a hands on specially curated unique concept. It is rooted in self-discovery. Along with it Im feasting on Rosewood’s “Sense of Place” philosophy and delicious food too. And getting re-energised too!
SOM TAM AND THEN SOME
Ive dined at the finest Thai restaurants of the world (including Michelin starred ones) but none comes close to the experience here at Ta khai which sprawls under ancient trees beside the shimmering Emerald bay . Here aunty Yai and uncle Nun, the most lovable accomplished chef couple cook to authentic recipes..
And they cook here in this alfresco restaurant with it’s
open kitchens and live cooking stations. Ta Khai, which means “fishing net” has not only the most beautiful setting under trees bust also the most authentic food that ricochets in a myriad flavors and textures on my palate.A kitchen-to-table herb and vegetable garden and live fish pond adds to the magic. Many an authentic Thai dish such as Poh Pia Sod (fresh Phuket spring rolls) to KhanomTuay (steamed pandanus and coconut milk custard). They are generous enough to share the authentic vegan version of the Som tam and Yam som tam (Pomelo salad) too.
Som Tam Vegan
Quantity Lts 1 portion
40ml Lime juice
60gr long bean
40gr palm sugar
(Dressing )Mixed sugar ,lime and salt well in the mixing bowl
Pound chili and garlic in the mortar then put tomatoes and long bean and pound again
Add papaya ,dressing and peanut and mixed well
Yam Som O
Quantity Lts 1 portion
40gr White sugar
30gr Roasted grated coconut
20gr Deep fried shallot (Sliced)
30ml Coconut Cream
2gr Chilli powder
50gr Shallot sliced
5gr Coriander leave
10gr Birds chili sliced
4gr Deep fried dried chilli
30gr Tamarind juice
50gr Cashew nut
Shred the Pomelo and set aside
Place the lemon juice,salt,Chilli powder and sugar in a bowl,Mix well
Add thegrated coconut,peanuts, cashew nut and coconut cream.Continue to stir
Add the Pomelo and toss
Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with fried shallots
HEALTH & FOOD
The knowledgable resident wellness practitioner, holistic wellness expert Steve Harvey has his own reason for making me eat “Som Tam”. This is the first time that I learn what food helps me when I travel a lot. “Sweet and spicy food will keep you grounded” explains Steve Harvey. This is just the beginning of my self-discovery journey. It truly is very exciting. And eye-opening. I experience their first Asaya, an innovative concept in holistic and integrative wellness journeys. It begins at Asaya’s beautiful “Wellness Atelier” with a consult with Steve Harvey. Here, the garden’s red and sweet basil, kaffir lime, lemon balm,murraya koenigii (Thai curry leaf) and pandanusingredients are crushed and blended into individual recipes for use in customized scrubs, wraps, masks and herbal compresses. The fresh Thai healing herbs are also incorporated into powerful aromatic oils used in Asaya Atelier Body Path rituals of therapeutic massages that give me deep relaxation, energy, mental clarity and relaxation. And then energy rebalancing with Himalayan singing bowls ritual follows.
Not only is my energy being rebalanced through food and therapies but even the environmentally sensitive architectural style that blends organically with the natural surroundings soothes. Through it all Im rejuvenating. And celebrating!
Foodies please note, a few weeks ago, the prestigious Michelin guide has made its entry into Bangkok. And while Im here Im determined to eat my way through the Michelin starred restaurants. Starting at the very top two-starred Michelin and right up to the street food Jay Fei who has been conferred a Michelin star.
Dish after dish has visual and gustatory starbursts. And wow! there is vegetarian caviar too, sublime in taste and texture: a vegetarian’s dream come true. Here the brilliant chef Arnaud Dunand Sauthier dazzles.
My sparkling starry meals in Bangkok begin at the legendary epitome of French fine dining, the best in Thailand (since 1958) Le Normandie. It is truly a connoisseur’s fantasy of splendid cuisine, impeccable service and elegant ambiance.
The tiny gem like amuse bouches implode with flavour and texture. I love the fact that the distinction of many dishes is a judicious intricacy, the strength of others is their focus: how intensely they taste of their central ingredient, like the seabass. And the airy and light Grand Marnier mousse is easily the best in Thailand. It elevates my Michelin starred meal even higher. From the starred French fine dine I go to my other favorites, the British High tea and the Thai Restaurant in the 141 year old historic Mandarin Oriental, But before I do that I request the chef for the recipe of the vegetarian caviar.He sets it in an empty caviar tin. If you cant find one, then any small tin will do. You need cauliflower, spring onion, veg gelatin and a little mayonnaise. No quantities are being given as it depends on the size of the tins you use to set it.Peel the extremity of the cauliflower then chopped finely. Blanched for 1min then refresh in ice bath.
Mix with the chopped truffle ( if not available, use mushrooms), sliced spring onion. Let mixture macerate for 4hrs.
Make the jelly with
and veget gelatin
Roast the cauliflwer until brown color then add water to cover it. Cooked for 2 hrs.
Pass the liquid through a cloth then put the gelatin
Put the cauliflwer couscous inside the box then cover with the jelly.Let it set and finish with some mayonnaise
BRITISH HIGH TEA
It is here in it’s elegant and historic “Authors Lounge” that I sip (literally too) over a century of legendary literary history. I enjoy the classic British High tea. It is here, in Le Grand Dame that the world renowned authors (Somerset Maughm, Noel Coward ) have lived and immortalised it. Dapper dynamic Australian Gregg Lidell who continues to helm this landmark orchestrates everything to perfection, everhelpful Karn Puntohong epitomises best of Thai hospitality. It is here, that the very gifted Patisseur Christophe Sapy constructs (the only suitable word for his amazing work) cakes. Each one a work of art. And his pastries seduce, Through it all we nibble on superlative finger sandwiches (cucumber,chicken, ham). Outstanding pastries, tarts, madelienes and a meltingly, rich, chocolate cake. And the most delightful scones with clotted cream and rose petal and pomelo jams.
And oh! That amazing sourdough bread, freshlybaked and crusty on the exterior and soft and warm inside has me asking for more. The gifted young Danierl Texter not only takes me to the amazing treasure trove of freshly baked bread, cakes and pastries but also shares the recipe of an easy to make bread at home. Should you need it, please email me email@example.com
HIGH ON THAI
It is here too, that Bangkok’s finest Thai restaurant beckons. Time is standing still as I gently glide down the gleaming “River of Kings”. We do so in a beautiful wooden-carved long tail boat. At the other end of the bank Sala Rim Nam, an exquisite restaurant serving authentic Thai food awaits me. But that is yet another story. A delicious one too!