THIS MAIDEN TOUCHES THE HEART
I had no idea that “dimsum” translates to “touch the heart”. All I knew is that over the years Ive loved the little steamed, parcels of Chinese delight. And on my recent visit to China I completely tripped out on dimsum. Of all kinds. On returning from China I was hankering for authentic Chinese food. Here’s the delicious ironiy: It happened again and again. My heart was touched. And that too in Dubai. It wasn’t just the superb dimsum and authentic Chinese food that did it but even the stunning views and the evolutionary designs that represent Chinese culture over the generations. Making waves in Dubai, this sexily glamorous, three floored Maiden Shanghai is strategically located in the cutting edge, Five Palm Jumeirah Dubai. And here I am on a perpetual feast, from the moment I enter the sparkling glass-clad jewel soaring directly over the Arabian Gulf, and walk into the pioneering design and trailblazing, amphitheatre inspired architectural masterpiece .
Within the timeless interiors a
hexagonal pattern runs throughout, complemented by a carefully chosen mix of contemporary
furniture. And Im thrilling to it all as I find my way to Maiden Shanghai.
CHINA CHARMS FIVE TIMES OVER
And then wham! the sheer seductive energy of the three floored Maiden Shanghai takes over. It is an exploration of authentic Chinese cooking there is a fresh and imaginative vibe. it invigorates traditional recipes for a modern audience.
It is set in the heart of the Five Palm Jumeirah and it lets in dramatic views across the marina from everywhere, its outdoor terraces, indoor bar, private dining rooms and an opulent rooftop bar. I love the décor which playfully fuses the traditional with the boldly modern, creating spaces that feel open yet connected.
It is here that the brilliant Executive Chef Luo Bing revitalises Chinese culinary tradition. Drawing from Cantonese, Sichuan, Shanghai and Beijing influences, he marries age-old techniques and flavours with imagination and refinement. Flavourful masterpieces result. Luo Bing honed his skills in Barcelona and Hong Kong, and as Executive Chef at Time Out’s 100 Best Restaurants In London.
He offers plenty of Signature dishes including traditional, hand-prepared Peking Duck and his take on the Sichuan Kung Pao dish. But what delightful dimsum…his dim sum bar selection offers exciting flavour combinations beautifully prepared in delicate parcels. From tiger prawn dumplings with luxurious black truffle to pan fried Wagyu beef buns.
It is here that the dynamic and dapper Aloki Batra who helms this hot happening landmark tells me all about the uniqueness of this haute hot Five. From the cutting edge design, artistic work here by Joe Ngai to the amazing Chinese food.
In the cool of the November night, while nibbling on dimsum on one of the stunning terraces I learn all about Aloki Batra’s over 16 years’ experience in equity financial markets. Formidable business and financial skills as well a flair for masterminding the hospitality industry shine through.
DIM SUM AND THEN SOME
This delightful dimsun is not unique to Cantonese cuisine. Shanghai has xiao long bao (steamed pork dumplings), and there is chao shou (Sichuan wontons) in Sichuan. However What sets Cantonese dim sums apart, other than the extraordinary variety of dishes is that it takes years to learn the
finer points of making dim sum take years to learn, which is why it is important to have a demanding “sifu” [“master”). Chef Luo Bing has obviously mastered the art and on my request shares his chicken dimsum recipe
MAIDEN SHANGHAI DIMSUM
– Flour 200g
– 1 egg
– Water 30g
– Salt 1g
-Mix all the ingredients together until smooth.
– Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into 1mm thin pastry.
– Use diameter 3/5 cutter to cut into individual pastries.
– Minced chicken thigh or breast 150g
– 1 egg
– finely chopped fresh ginger 20g
– finely chopped onion 30g
– salt to season
– soya sauce 15g
– Sesame oil 3g
– cooking oil 2g
Method: Mix all ingredients together and put in chiller until filing.
– put a tablespoon of each filling into the pastry and pinch close
– boil for five minutes
Today, I send you the most delicious, queen of a traditional recipe which is versatile and reigns supreme. I also send you the recipe for good cheer by the global cocktail king. I taste the very traditional Spanish Salsa verde and watch the cocktail king stir the original Martini in the most iconic Maria Cristina in the stunningly beautiful san Sebastian by the sea. The luxurious iconic century old San Sebastian landmark is named after Queen Maria Cristina. It is the superstar hotel of superstars. Not only was it a beloved of Liz Taylor, Bette Davis and others but even today the charming and dapper Ned Capeleris ensures that it magnetises the best. Chef Miguel Piniero distils delicious Spain on our plates. And somewhere through my gourmet meal here, I get to know that Shah Rukh Khan stayed and loved it here too. History and luxury waltz in the elegant, high ceilinged marbled interiors. Since 1912 it has been magnetising the whos who of the world. And with good reason. Not only does it boast of amazing gourmet fare, superlative service, glamorously elegant surroundings but also has the world famous Dry bar and a cooking school (Mimo food, where I attend a cooking lesson) in it’s premises.
GREEN GOURMET QUEEN
Over the years and through my travels, I have been tasting this green-sauce in different countries. Ive been told that the basic recipe is probably 2,000 years old and has an Italian origin. But there is no documentary evidence. Sure! In Piemonte, I dipped the boiled meats (bolito misto) in it and I loved the cold Italian salsa verde. Rich with coarsely chopped parsley, vinegar, capers, garlic, onion, anchovies, olive oil, and mustard. In France the
So I was pleasantly bowled over when the Spanish version turned out to be the most memorable.
Also the most sparkling. In every way. We dined, under the shimmering chandeliers of the stunningly beautiful restaurant with it’s mirrored tables. The talented young chef’s masterpieces were served up one after the other. The pintxos (Basque tapas) delighted with their varied textures and flavors. The well traveled and well informed Ned Capeleris’s knowledge of the local and global cuisines had me riveted. Beans from.Tolosa, Hake and asparagus and the most amazing cloud of sweet bliss…Basque curd with honey followed by petitfours. Everhelpful Bryan Owen paired the finest wines, the local txakoli and champagnes
Ned Capeleris and Chef Miguel share the easy to make recipe
- 2 gloves of very finely chopped garlic
- Extra Virgen olive oil to wet the pan
- A pinch of Salt to taste add
- 100 ml of White wine or
- 200 ml of fish stock (optional) and then the parsley.
- Parsley very finely chopped in abundance stir in the
- 10g (soup spoon) of flour to give the salsa more body. Keep stirring till it has a pouring consistency.
Use it as a dip, a sauce or even spread. Yum!
Here im privileged to watch the maestro himself stir the most perfect dry martini. The World famous entrepreneur author charming cocktail maestro Javier de las Meulas founder of the iconic dry martini concept world over and a fab one in Maria Cristina also shares the perfect recipe.
From James Bond’s “shaken not stirred” martini to Ernest Hemingway’s quote “I’ve never tasted anything so cool and clean…They make me feel civilized,” this gin-based beverage is an iconic one. And fittingly enough, it finds its home in the iconic hotel in the “Dry bar”
FROM THE MARTINI MAESTRO
2-3 dashes of dry vermouth
l glass at Bombay
Optional: a twist of lemon
Garnish: a green olive
Type of glass
l Pour the vermouth and the gin into the mixing glass togethr
with plenty of ice
2 Stir tor l5 s
3 Serve in a cocktail glass
4 Garnish with a green olive
5 Optionally add a twist of lemon
Foodies! Chew on it. Savor it. Here’s some food for thought. A mind-blowingly different perspective on food and its creation, on the world of food and chefs and restaurants.
I write from an amazing space, where food is not just being cooked but performed, boundaries are being pushed, new cultures discovered and knowledge exchanged. I write from the beautiful mountains of UpperAustria, from Gelinaz.
One thing is for sure, cooking is not just fine dining anymore. It touches different population segments across the world, and it needs to be both cutting-edge and playful, as well as in phase with worldwide pop culture.
And here in the beautiful mountains of Upper Austria I’m getting a taste of this amazingly different perspective. The worlds most brilliant chefs have flown in and are creating and co-creating together. And I am a voyeur.
SUPERSTARS CO CREATING MAGIC.
Every single continent seems to be represented here. The worlds superstar chefs have flown in. Rene Redzepi of Noma (Copenhagen), David Chang of Momofuku (New York), Virgilio Martinez (Of central Lima), May Chow of Little Bao Hong Kong, Heinz Reitbauer of Vienna, Margot Janse from South Africa, Manu Buffara from South America and a dozen more. Equally renowned artists, musicians, scientists, thinkers have flown in from all parts of the world. Is it about food? Is it about music? Art? Its all this and more. Its “Gelinaz.” The curators Andrea Petrini & Alexandra Swenden are, in essence, ‘agit pop’ curators of a culinary hub that is pushing boundaries.
It’s a world wide think tank of avantgarde chefs performing food and remixing each other’s dishes like in a DJ set giving form to culinary happenings where art, music and cuisine fusion in unexpected and improvisational ways.
NOT ONLY ABOUT COOKING.
Sure! cooking is a big deal, but today it’s not enough: contemporary cuisine needs to find new ways to get in touch with a wider, younger audience, mingling and dialoguing with art, music and other fields of expression.
And here, I am witnessing how culinary talent and human qualities can coexist harmoniously inside the kitchen.
How, the main stage for a chef is the kitchen, a place where life and art, personal experience and interdisciplinary longings find a means of expression.
NOT ABOUT COOKING COMPETITIONS EITHER.
After all the “Masterchef” competitions and fierce rivalry, suddenly here is a welcome space, a happy space, there is:
– no competition
– universal sharing
– experimentation in a collective way beyond meritocracy and classified roles (stars, lists etc..)
Instead the collective of chefs were,
– pushing the boundaries, performing food and take risk as a starting point
– discovering new cultures and exchanging knowledge
– exploring the unknown
– zooming in on the beauty of nature, its elegant chaos
FOOD IS BEING PERFORMED.
Here, in the award winning gastronomic, family run restaurant Muhltalhof of the family Rachinger, the experimental culinary performance is taking place. The brilliant father and son chef duo of Philip and Helmut Rachinger have chosen three core ‘Matrix’ dishes. We get to taste them in a magnificent multi-course dinner the night before. Today the international chefs have been working in small teams of three and four. These dishes are being deconstructed, dismantled, cut into pieces and remixed by the 24 participating international and Austrian chefs. Chefs are asked to freely reinterpret every dish, modify some of the original ingredients and add seasonal produce from Upper-Austria to their new creations. And we walked through the different stations set up by each group as they interpreted the three matrix dishes. Rene Redzepi of Noma used moss he had foraged, Virgilio Martinez from Peru and his team interpreted the gulasch in a dumpling, David Chang from NYC along with May Chow from Hong Kong set up under a tree and even served up Schnitzel shots. The finale dinner is to follow…a sit down seven course dinner with these brilliant chefs in orchestra together. Innovative music and art installations by Joachim Eckl reverberate with the sounds of the river flowing nearby. Though sublime, its not just a gourmet dinner anymore. It’s the pampering of all senses. Nature, art, music food, cultures of different countries, good vibrations, morph into a memorable magical experience. A Magelinaz experience!
I couldn’t resist requesting for the recipe of the three matrix dishes of the potato gulasch, freshwater fish and the summerbock venison
Please email email@example.com should you want them.
So exciting to be in the mountains of UpperAustria and be in touch with you. Thanks for keeping me plugged into the vibrant home catering food scene of Chennai.
- Gazeenasulu Kunhamed from Ormes Road, Kilpauk specialises in exotic cakes and desserts such as the French Jaconde cake (an almond sponge cake), Choco Coffee opera and a variety of cheesecakes. Her latest offerings are jackfruit and tender coconut cake, mango and passion fruit cake, orange and pistachio cake, cherries and chocolate cake which are made with entremets ( layered desserts with multiple flavours and textures). No home delivery. Call 98409 70353 or mail firstname.lastname@example.org
- Harini Sankaranarayanan from Simply Chocolate is a home baker from Abhiramapuram. She can customise cakes according for to customer requirements for specific flavours, fillings ( types of nuts or fruits) or themes. Home delivery with extra charges. Call 98414 28798.
- Sudha Shankaran from Pondy Bazaar takes orders for nankhatais. Minimum order is half kg. Call 99400-62327 or mail email@example.com
- Anu Prosper from Mistletoe Cakes is a home baker based in Choolaimedu. The latest cake flavours in her menu are cotton candy, butter popcorn and bubblegum. She is also taking orders for low carb pizzas and savouries such as chicken croquettes, cheesy bakes ( veg and non veg) etc. Call 9600116757 or mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit https://www.facebook.com/mistletoe.cakes
- Shyamala Sivaraman from Shyamala’s Culinary Classes is based in Arcot road, Kodambakkam. She conducts four hours sessions from Monday to Saturday on baking (cakes, cookies, muffins, decorative cupcakes), bread and buns, tarts and pies, puff pastries. She also conducts intensive icing workshops. Call on 98402 51050.
- Deepika from Aumly is taking orders for Thai Sweet Chilly Sauce, which is both spicy & sweet, Whole Wheat Muffins which can be stored in the fridge for a week in the following flavours: Apple Crumble Muffin, Carrot & Walnut Muffin and Orange & Dark Chocolate Muffins, organic fresh curd, set in earthenware pots, Idli Podi and organic Curry Leaf Powder. Order by Wednesday for pick up on Friday. Call on 8939774319. Address: 12-Z, Rutland Gate, 4th St, Aroshree Kailash, Ground Floor. 48 hours notice required.
- Sara Koshy is conducting a Workshop on Garden Parties. On the menu:
- Zucchini Loaf
- Cauliflower Crust Veg Pizza
- Green Olive Tapennade (on Brushetta)
- White Choco Chunk Brownies
Venue: The Gormei Market – 6, CIT Colony, 2nd Main Road, (behind focus gallery on TTK road), Mylapore, Chennai:4
Date: Aug 6th, Sunday. Time: 3:00pm to 6:30pm. Cost: Rs.1200/per person.
Call to register: 4217 2229.
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,
9003030816, 8825537479 (watsapp)
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 email@example.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
- Glaze Icing
- 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.
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.
I’m so excited…here in China, in the finest global capital of spice, I’m sniffing out the spicy secrets of the king of spicy cuisines…Sichuan ( also called Schezwan). In India, not only do we love Chinese food but it’s the spicy Sichuan version that we all enjoy. This ancient cuisine is the cuisine of the South Western Sichuan province of China And here in Chengdu, the fast growing capital of Sichuan I am not only getting a taste of the authentic Sichuan but also learning it’s secrets. And Im doing so in the best of best places and from the greatest most knowledgable chefs.
SPICES…signature Sichuan dishes
Whoa! Big live woks sizzle and I actually take part in a cooking session by the brilliant chefs under the leadership of Master chef Frank Zhuang. All the ingredients are on display in Spices, this vibrant restaurant of the most luxurious landmark of Chengdu, The Ritz-Carlton. A truly seductive taste of Sichuan here is due to their global “scenography” (sense of place) reputation. Here too the local Sichuan flavors are vibrant and palpable and delicious. And the Kungfu tea show is mindblowing.
Here, in Spices, the fiery wok creations and local favorites like Kung Pao chicken, ma po tofu and twice-cooked pork complement delicate dim sum at the live Chinese stations. World cuisines are on offer here too but I am focussed on the Sichuan. Im happily surprised by the exquisite vegetarian masterpieces at the renowned fine dining Chinese restaurant, where the dynamic Vito Romeo (who honed his skills under the likes of Alain Ducasse and Joel Robuchon) and Chef Michael impressed with their knowledge and flavors of sophisticated interpretations of classic Cantonese and Sichuanese dishes. Each time, it’s the unmatched standards of excellence, be it in service or food that dazzle.
In Spices, Vito and Chef Steffen Gube not only guided me through the daily creations inspired by Chengdu’s rich “Tea Culture” but also of course the step by step cooking of the two main signature Sichuan dishes… Mapotofu and Kung Pao chicken.
Ooh and I’m addicted to the signature Kung Pao chicken (named after Ding baozen, governor of Sichuan in the Qing dynasty. His title was Gongbao, literally “palace guardian”)
Chef Frank’s KUNG PAO CHICKEN
Ingredient: Chicken breast, fried peanuts, vegetables, chilli peppers, Sichuan peppercorns, ginger, sugar, vinegar, Shaoxing wine
Method: Marinate the diced chicken in Shaoxing Wine and salt for 10 minutes. Rinse it. / Boil the oil on low fire, drop peanuts into the wok then deep-fried until golden brown and take out for later use / Heat the oil over big fire, add in the chicken, flash-fry till chicken turns white and take out for later use/ Add the chilli peppers, Sichuan peppercorns, soy, sugar, vinegar and vegetables into the wok and stir to mix them all / Put back the pre-cooked peanuts and chicken into the wok, mix everything up and dish up. Yum!
THE SOUL OF SICHUAN CUISINE
I’m excited to learn the basics of this bold spicy 4000 year old Sichuan cuisine in the Sichuan province itself. Guided by brilliant chefs Michael and Frank and also in the worlds first museum dedicated to a regional cuisine. If Sichuan pepper and chilli pepper are the heart of Sichuan cuisine, then doubanjiang Chilly Bean paste is the soul. Sichuan’s version is made with dried fava beans, also known as broad beans, mixed with fresh red er jin tiao chilli peppers and salt (and wheat flour) and fermented.Did you know that this chilly bean paste is as painstakingly made as champagne? ..almost.
They have different vintages for it…put it through “dewing” flipping” (like the champagne riddling) and “sunburning” I happily only take part in this “flipping” amid the stunning array of standing pots of fermenting chilli bean sauce (doubanjiang), which is churned twice daily for a year, with exposure to the sun and open air.
Here’s the soul of this addictive “chillybean paste”. Sichuan peppercorns were used over 2500 years ago. Garlic was brought in when the trade route was opened in the Han dynasty 2000 years ago, Chillies were introduced during the Ming dynasty 400 years ago. And so was born the Chilly bean paste.
P.S. Thank you Vito Romeo, Sue Fan and Chefs for this authentic taste of Sichuan…and it’s seven basic tastes…Salty, sweet, bitter, sour, heat (from chillies) numbness ( from Sichuan peppercorns) and spiciness.
Today I serve up a taste of the glamorous, vibrant “Paris of the East” I write from shiny Shanghai. Its the most modern, cosmopolitan city of China and it seems to be on steroids. Yet there is a core of history and the grace and elegance of it’s heyday in the thirties that still lives on. So I serve up a flavor of two of the most icònic landmarks… the històric grand Fairmont Peace on the Bund (it’s founder Victor Sassoon and family made a lot of their wealth in Mumbai and India) and the very modern Urban resort, The Puli.
I not only soak in the luxury of this exquisite classical masterpiece but also lunch at the oldest Shanghainese cuisine restaurant of Shanghai here. The clàssic grand art deco històric Peace on the Bund (it s the only hotel in the world which has it’s own museum was the toast of the Far East in the 30s. It is located on the Bund (overlooking the HuangPo river) which is a centennial epitome of Shanghai itself. This classical architectural masterpiece started off as Sassoon House in 1929 and rich history tangos with modern luxury here. And whoa! Chinese Masterchef Ma coaxes the most vibrant flavors and textures using the traditional caramelised sweetness with soy sauce and more. Sweet and sour, the typical Shanghai taste shines through and yet the original flavors of the raw ingredients are also preserved. Interestingly while he serves the most classical Shanghainese dishes he also adds contemporary interpretations and plates them artfully. The dynamic George Wee — who helms this landmark along with the ever helpful Jessica Zhang translate Chef Ma’s explanations. I revel in the most amazing bamboo shoots lacquered with soy, the crazily addictive, crunchy skinned Peace Duck , the creamy sago mango dessert to the crunchy marinated cucumbers (Masterchef ma generously shares the rècipe). All the while soaking in the històric rich red and gold details of the restaurant and the serene river view from the large Windows.
Cucumber: 500 g /Soya sauce: 80g
Sugar: 160g /Vinegar: 60g
Salt: 5g /Garlic (sliced): 10g
Ginger: 10g /Chili: 10g
Slice the cucumber and marinate with the above sauces for 24 hours and plate it.
What a super surprising contrast. Glimmering, shiny hoardings of the globe’s leading cosmopolitan brands festoon the gleaming buildings. And in the midst of this crazy cacophonic area in the throbbing heart of Shanghai is located a relaxed, zen like zone of Peace. Handcrafted textures, the finest of natural materials weave a charming relaxed ambiance in the most modern icon The Puli. Its been justifiably hailed as a “modern urban luxurious resort”, “a seductive sanctuary that guarantees a relaxing escape from the heart Racing city”. And in keeping with it’s sophisticated cosmpolitian essence, it’s French restaurant Phenix is not only hugely popular but has also been awarded a Michelin star. And further in keeping with it’s cosmopolitan essence, the Australian chef Michael Wilson creates light and delightful French masterpieces, which I enjoy with Kelly Kuo in the modren elegant restaurant overlooking the lush green park. Be it the Cod, the yoghurt compressed strawberry desert, violet ice cream.. Even the humble potato is elevated to luxurious creaminess. Its a very simple rècipe, but its the ratio of the butter to the potato that is important as is the addition of the hot milk. The nutmeg gives it that special festive touch.
1kg potatoes /Good quality butter
Nutmeg /Salt /Fresh truffles (optional)
Peel and cut potatoes into equal size pieces
Boil in salted water till tender
Strain and leave for 3 mins for residual water to evaporate
Mash potato by pushing through a fine sieve. For every 500g of potato add 200g butter.Mix the butter into the potato and add some hot milk to thin the mix
Season with salt and nutmeg
When availaible shave fresh truffles on top just before serving
I’m in “the worlds most stylish restaurant” . And what am I getting most dazzled by? I am not only amazed at how vegetables parade in their classical, sophisticated swagger yet burst with flavour and freshness, but also with the flavours of our very own Madras Onion and curry powder which is elevated to stratospheric heights (please see photo and recipe) . Can vegetarian dishes be so luxurious? Or wow with their masterly balance of textures and flavours? Be art on a plate and a seduction of the palate? For sure. And where else except in Vanita’s, which the internationally acknowledged Harpers magazine justifiably declared the worlds most stylish restaurant.
It preens stylishly in the worlds first ever fashion-branded hotel, Palazzo Versace which is raising the gold standard here. Palazzo Versace sprawls luxuriously in the Gold Coast. The transcendence of Italian design shines through the marbles and mosaics, vaulted ceilings hand-detailed in gold.
And luxury just became more unique and bespoke as the stunningly beautiful and everhelpful Jasmine Webb takes me on their unique “Glamour E Lusso“ in their custom made Rolls Royce phantom (Versace cushions et al ). We glide to the recently revamped and magnificent Pacific Fare. Not only does the expert stylist guide me through the amazing mall,champagne and chocolates et al but we also stop by for the Chinese Yumcha.
And on return, a stone and seasalt Japanese therapy gets me all rejuvenated for Chef Dayan Hartill-Law’s gourmet dinner in the Vanitas restaurant.
Having honed his skills under the worlds best chefs, like Heston Blumenthal and helmed many a leading restort, Chef Dayan has developed his own inimitable style. Finedining gets redefined. Dom Perignon sparkles our winepaired degustation dinner. Freshest of produce & vibrant flavors implode on our taste-buds. I opt for a mainly vegetarian menu. I love the Evolution of seasonal snacks from the ceviche (juicy watermelon, crunchy radish and fingerlime ). The humble potato is elevated to a gourmet status as it is paired with kombu, the fleshy portobello and the flavor packed porcini. Its the Madras onion that fascinates. Of course I do try the superb Lamb made intense with black garlic jus but its Chef Dayan’s vegetarian fare that suprises and seduces. The finale dessert of the finest French chocolate and peppermint leaves the sweetest taste. As does my conversation with the vivacious and brilliant Claire Huang who helms this iconic landmark. She epitomises style as well as substance, much as the superstylish “Palazzo Versace” does.
Palazzo Versace’s Madras Onion
Madras curry powder
2 tbsp coriander seeds 1 tbsp cumin seeds /1 tsp fenugreek
1 stick cassia bark /10 cardamom pods /1 tsp black peppercorns /5 dried red chillies /25 small curry leaves
2 tbsp ground turmeric
Toast all individually until fragrant, then grind till all smooth.
4 brown onions /4 heaped teaspoons curry powder
100ml olive oil /5g sea salt flakes
Peel onions down to the size of a small apple, leaving the top and bottom intact. Place all in sous vide bag and compress on highest setting then, cook at 68 degrees for 8 hours.
500ml white wine vinegar / 1 punnet raspberries
Bring to a simmer and allow to infuse for 2 hours.
1 bunch baby carrots / 500ml above pickle
Peel and clean carrots. Then slice on a mandolin at 3mm thick. Then pour over warm pickle and reserve for 1 hour. Once cooled remove the carrots from the pickle and roll into cylinders.
Chef had also included Onion foam and carrot and botrytis in the recipe but this maybe difficult to make at home since ingredients are not available here so am not including it. It does take away from the final dish but even just the onion with the carrot and raspberry pickle tastes and looks superb,
Place the cylinders of carrot (carrot pickle) around in a circle big enough to fit the onion on, Then cut the base of the onion off and place on the carrots. I tried this myself and home and soft and fleshy onion tastes sublime with tangy carrots.
Over the years, I’ve been sipping and tasting my way through many a high-teas across UK and Europe. From London’s grand historic hotels, The Ritz, The Dorchester, The Lanesbrough to The Ritz in Madrid and The Ritz in Paris. And strangely enough, the very finest of this very British tradition is the best in the cacophonic, exuberant but exasperating, 200-year-old, over-populated, traffic-choked Bangkok.
Right here in this tumultuous city, there is a space which is not just stunningly beautiful and gracious but also a cocoon of comfort. Since over 140 years, this gorgeous Mandarin Oriental hotel has retained it’s essentially, stylishly Oriental soul and still manages to preserve its British colonial spirit.
SIPPING LITERARY HISTORY
It breathes timelessness. It is here in it’s elegant and historic “Authors Lounge” that I sip (literally too) over a century of legendary literary history. Two of my passions come together in a sacred union…High tea and English literature. I enjoy the classic British High tea, served in the Author’s Lounge.
I have been going back regularly past three decades. Each time fall even more in love with it. Helmed by the dynamic Amanda Hyndman, the Mandarin Oriental continues to breathe colonial charm and high end luxury. The brilliant and charming dynamo Amanda takes me through the colourful and amazing history of the Authors lounge through all the photographs, paintings, books and many an interesting anecdote. The Oriental has welcomed world renowned authors, celebrities and heads of state over 140 years and has long been famous for its service, style and elegance. The whopping USD18 million restoration last year has recreated the magic of the past
The la grande dame has been immortalised by globally renowned authors who lived and wrote here. “The Oriental is the worlds most glamorous hotel in the world” said the prolific British Romantic novelist Barbara Cartland, who lived here regularly and her suite bears her name.
In 1923 Somerset Maugham contracted malaria and almost got evicted from The Oriental. But he loved it so much that he came back and wrote “The gentleman in the Parlour” here.
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.
The well known Noel Coward wrote “Lord Jim” and “The heart of darkness” here. Amanda explains that it was originally an open roofed garden featuring a pond signposted ‘please don’t feed the tortoise’, the Authors’ Lounge has since 1976, featured a glass roof and is the place to enjoy afternoon tea. In keeping with the great literary heritage of the hotel, it has been recently restored and the ‘Heritage Authors, are now immortalised in four new private lounges.
HIGH TEA CEREMONIES
I salute Duchess Anna of Bedford for having sent out the invite for “tea and a walk in the fields” over a hundred and fifty years ago. The lovely lady set in motion High tea, the most dainty of all culinary traditions. Now, Tea Council Inspectors check standards and coveted annual awards are given for the Top London Afternoon Tea. Which Tea ceremony do I get most high one? The Chinese tea ceremony “Yumcha” server fills the cup just over half way, because the Chinese believe the rest of the cup is filled with friendship. The Japanese tea ceremonies of the Chanoyu, the Sencha are performed sitting on the floor around a low table. But it’s the fabulous historical elegance and daintyness, the graciousness of Amanda Hyndman and the charm of the Authors Lounge that sets part this high tea in Bangkok as the worlds best, It sure is my cup of tea.
The brilliant French maestro, Executive chef Aurelien Poirot infuses French gourmet excellence into food here. He keeps to the traditional British Scone recipe and very generously shares it with us.
500 g Butter /1,900 g Flour /500 g Icing sugar /100 g Baking powder /800 ml Milk /200 g Raisins
Mix dry ingredient together/ Add butter little by little until it become crumbly / Add milk and beat until dough combined / Take the dough out & knead by hand until the surface is smooth / Roll out & cut /Turn each scones upside down onto tray / Brush with egg wash / Bake at 180ºc for about 15 mins (Rotate tray after 7 mins)
It’s the most delicious hat trick ever! One that received a standing ovation at Asia’s most prestigious and coveted Oscars of food in Bangkok held a few days ago. For the third time in a row, putting Indian food on top of Asia’s 50 best was our very own Kolkatta born, innovative, exuberant and affectionate Gaggan Anand. At a glittering ceremony of Asia’s 50 best restaurant awards (now in its fifth edition,) Gaggan along with his partner Rajesh Kewalramani received the award. This is the most awaited awards night by the Foodie fraternity, not only do the who’s who and the crème de la crème jet down but thousands more watch live streams from around the world.
“I’m humbled. This is for my country where I came from, India. For Tara my daughter and my family” said a visibly emotional Gaggan “The 67 people in my restaurant are the best team I’ve ever worked with.” And after the awards “The unofficial after party that followed in Gaggan’s restaurant not only served up Bangkok’s best street food, tattoo, henna, DJ music, Polaroid photo stations et al. It was also Gaggan’s birthday and as a special surprise, his wife Pui brought along Tara, their daughter in a chefs uniform completing the celebration.
INDIA’S BEST RESTAURANT
New Delhi s “Indian Accent” s very creative,talented and soft-spoken Chef Manish Mehrotra not only walked away with the award for India’s best restaurant but also conducted a cooking masterclass and gave a talk on “spices” to packed houses. Their progressive Indian Accent has also opened in New York to rave reviews. From Mumbai the gifted Chef Sachin Poojary received the award for the exquisite Japanese Wasabi by Morimoto.
SRILANKA’S BEST RESTAURANT
Srilanka’s best restaurant “Ministry of Crab’s” multi-talented Dharshan Munidasa also received an award for his superlative Japanese Nihon Bashi. He has single-handedly put Srilanka on the world gourmet map.
THE TOP TEN
- Gaggan, Thailand • Restaurant Andre, Singapore• Amber, Hong Kong• 8-1/2 Otto E Mezzo Bombana, Hong Kong • Nahm, Thailand• Narisawa, Japan • Nihonryori Ryugin, Japan• Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet, China • Odette, Singapore• Burnt Ends, Singapore
P.S Asia’s 50 best winners followed voting by 318 independent experts led by six academy chairs across the region.As chairperson of the Indian subcontinent I’ve had the good fortune to attend these amazing awards. Having tracked global gastronomy for three decades, I can only say that these are not just prestigious lists of award-winning restaurants which the foodies of the world follow but they have also changed the course of tourism Made restaurants into landmarks to visit and made their countries proud and created “Gourmet tourism” .
A meal at Gaggan is truly is THE Gaggan experience. Gaggan ensures that Imagination and science, creativity and art copulate to produce masterpieces of flavour and texture and yet retain their authentic Indian flavors. Therein lies the Gaggan magic. Be it the Bombay Bhel, idli sambhar, smoked eggplant cookies and more. Gaggan’s multi-national young dedicated brilliant team of 67 delivers a mind-blowing experience in the two leveled bungalow (we dined in the new “den” which has recently been added on). It was a delight to meet the brilliant Chef Garima Arora and the team. Also the French trained patisseur Solanki Roy from Kolkatta whose desserts are memorable. I can still savor the flavour of the Indian ghewar and Japanese strawberry…a lyrical jugalbandi!
THE DREAM TEAM
Asia’s 50 best, The worlds 50 best, Latin America’s 50 best restaurant awards have changed the course of global gastronomy. Driving these awards and making them into high-octane international influential forces ( in gastronomy And tourism) is the London-based dynamic dream team. Helming and driving the awards Charles Reed, Helene Pietrini, Tim Brooke Webb, William Drew work the memorable magic. As do Tiago Restani, Francesco, Laura Price, Rikki Muddie and Emer Schlosser and together they ensure clockwork precision. Worlds 50 best, Latin Americas 50 best and Asia’s 50 best are not just influential list-makers but also taste makers. Riveting talks and cooking sessions are also held around each award ceremony. And through the year foodies around the world follow each and every deliciously informative step the Academy takes.