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.
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.
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.
oatmeal flour 785 g
Salt 15 g
Yeast 330 g
Eggs 480 g
Butter 490 g
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.
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.
Jasper 8E, Olympia Opaline, OPP AGS, 33 Rajiv Gandhi Road, Navalur, Chennai 600130
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.
A-218, Bhaggyam Urban Ville,
Industrial Estate Road,
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)
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…
Navins starwood Towers
Mambakkam main road
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Come feast with me. Feast on a banquet of culinary experiences. Of refreshingly unusual and unique experiences. From one served under the skies and trees to another in the depths of the boiler room. All these in Sri Lanka’s “little England” in the misty beautiful mountain town of Nuwaraelya’s Grand Hotel. Interestingly, long before Nuwara Eliya became the famed Hill station of Sri Lanka, folklore has it that many epic events of the Ramayana happened right here. The early 19th century British planters transformed it into “little England” and Sir Edward Barnes, Governor, built the beautiful bungalow which eventually expanded and became the Grand Hotel. And today this over a century old iconic landmark continues to magnetise the international traveller with it’s sprawling dining facilities, spa, pool, leisure activities et al. But fascinatingly enough continues to reinvent and reimagine many a feasting option.
GOURMET IN THE BOILER ROOM
Tracking global gastronomy is a fun job, but this one experience (in a 127 year old boiler room in the Sri Lankan mountains) takes the cake. It was here in this boiler room of the iconic Grand hotel Nuwaraeliya that the distinguished looking Boilerman provided an unending supply of hot water throughout the day to enable the aristocratic British guests to bathe. After almost nine decades of burning tree logs to keep the water hot, a diesel-fired boiler was introduced. It still keeps the water hot, but there is no dust or soot. It is here, that the celebrated Chef Priyantha serves up a unique dining experience: delicate carpaccio to luxuriously creamy cake. Within the depths of the kitchen they set up a Japanese Teppanyaki table. A violinist plays while the chef conjures light and delicious dishes. On my request the chef shares the recipe of the tasty and unusual Doriyaki pancake.
Gems of delicious wizardry parade with panache. “Unique dining experience” gets redefined.
100 grs Wheat Flour
01 tablespoon Sugar
02 tablespoon Bees honey
01 tablespoon Mirin Vinegar
70 ml Milk.
Pan fry this batter into a pancake.
200 grs Whipped Cream, Chocolate Sauce with Ice Cream.
Optional…10 grs Green Tea Powder / Sweet red bean
BRIT-SRI LANKAN HIGH TEA
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. 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.
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.
An amazing tradition which evolved with time…of tea service, side plates, bread and butter plates, cake stands, and every conceivable accompaniment, Tea gardens, tea dances , a whole code of etiquette followed. And here in Srilanka at the Grand hotel, they not only serve up an amazing grand tea under the sky, amid it’s beautiful manicured gardens but what excites me is that my most favorite Srilankan wattalpam gets a makeover into a dainty snack. Here it is
01 litre thick Coconut milk, 400grs. Jaggery
14 nos whole eggs,
Pinch of Nutmeg powder, 01 piece Cinnamon stick, 04 nos Cardomons, 150 grs Cashewnuts.
- Boil the jaggery with spices, 2. Cool to room temperature . 3.lightly beat the Egg and add to the Coconut milk. 4.Then mix all ingredients together and strain well. 5. Put in a baking dish and bake with steam for 40 to 50 minutes at 160° C.
WHATSHOT TASTING SESSION
Piggy bread…Look what I tasted in the Chennai’s most interesting and unusual whatshot tasting sessions of home talent. The very talented and lovely Deepasri Kar ‘s creative and innovative breads are in great demand. For the past seven years, her Hamaree rasoi’s Piggy shaped bread (stuffed with robustly spiced kheema ofcourse), chicken Stuffed Braided Bread have been the hotsellers. As have the vegetarian Pumpkin buns. Her large repertoire includes cookies spiked with cumin, which are a musty try too.
Please take a look at the accompanying photograph! What you can see are Chennai’s super-talented home-bakers and caterers. The youngest twosome are eighteen years old. What you cant see are their tasty and innovative creations which they brought along to our “Whats Hot Tasting Session” held a few days ago.
A SNEAK PEAK
So here it is, just a quick peak at our newly discovered foodie talent. Due to space constraint I can only give a one line intro to each. To get complete details you’ll have to wait for my friday column every fortnight. Are you particular about home-cooked fare? Looking for gluten-free? Healthful? Vegan? Pickles? Luxuriously sinful? Your search ends here. From home made probiotics to home made strawberry and gin icecream, from vegan peanut chocolate cups to prawn pickle. Each one brought their samples to taste and set them up in the hall, on the display tables graciously provided by the multi-talented chef Ajit Bangera in the ITC Grand Chola. We sipped tea and tasted each one’s creations, shot photos on the grand staircase and moved onto the lush green gardens outside, Thanks Anjali Sharma, Chef Sai Chand, Chef Ajit Bangera, Sanjukhtaa Roy, Sayani Sinha Roy for making this Whats hot tasting session possible. A memorably delicious evening.
BAGS OF GOODNESS
We just have to buy these cloth bags… bags made by women whose husband’s were farmers and who committed suicide because of drought. The sale of bags is their only source of income.
Sara koshy And Smitha Kuttaya brought these to our “Whatshottastingsession” These cloth bags are perfect to hold cake boxes, for vegetable shopping, etc (Smitha is holding one in the photograph)
Would you believe that the most delicious peanut chocolate cups, also fudge brownie in a jar, are sans white sugar and actually vegan too? We have two 18 year olds Ranjani and Akhil of Herbistore to thank for these. Baking Organic vegan chocolate cake is Smitha Kuttayya ‘s specialty. No maida, or preservative. And only Sulpher free sugar. Global theeni is her brand name and Pork chicken prawn pickle are her other specials.
HEALTHFUL …from sprouts to probiotics
You name it…alfa alfa, moong ,moth, black horsegram, brown horsegram, methi, peanuts, masoor, wheat, ragi ,jowar… Shobha Golecha sprouts it all. From organic grains and only on order basis. She also teaches and advises on various ways to enrich dishes as well as new recipes.
I’m a great believer in the benefits of probiotics. I’m excited. This is the first time that I taste home-made probiotics. Abha Appaswamy makes the most delicious and much needed Kombucha, Milk Kefir, Beet Kvass, Ginger Ale. She also makes Sauerkraut, Korean Kimchi, Hummus. All products contain live beneficial bacteria.
Snacky mood? Hungry? nothing better than munching on Seed crackers
Prathima Manikandan uses only natural sugars with low glycemic index, finest of seeds, nuts and dryfruits to make these.
WE ALL SCREAM FOR…
Get high on icecream! Literally too! Roasted strawberry in gin,
Bailey’s ice cream cake are Bhavana Arya’s signatures. Feeling particularly celebratory?
She makes Motichoor ladoo ice cream too.
Named “Intox” (short for intoxication) she adds alcohol to some but ensures that no colour or essence or sugar is used.
Jumana huzefa bakes tarts from millet and tops them deliciously with zucchini and cheese. Delightful
Amaranth cookies, Granola with almond, blueberry and gluten free oats.
Hummus fans, 24 year old Anoli Mavani not only makes ten different hummus flavors but makes the tahini at home too. Ask for her eggless whole wheat Walnut cake too.
Sweet finale? Baking is a passion with 23 year old Samyuktha Vale. The result? Most delicious
Earl grey short bread.
Baked mango cheese cake and the crazily addictive flourless chocolate cake. She also bakes Vegan desserts to Wedding cakes. Go ahead pig out…Ever had a kheema stuffed, pig shaped bread? Deepasri Kar Specialize in bread.Chicken Stuffed Braided Bread Pumpkin buns and more.
Home sick Gujaratis ask for Paruls’ classic Chundo and Methiya Keri. Many a seasonal vegetable pickle too.
Juhina Sabrina Samuel’s Andhra Chicken malabar fish konkani prawn pickles are her forte.And her wine (black currant jaggery cinnamon) is in great demand too. Home made! Ofcourse!
BE PART OF OUR NEXT WHATS HOT TASTING SESSION
Should you want to be be part of this “whats hot tastingsession” please email your details (background, specialities, pricing, home delivery, contact details) firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @rashmiudaysingh email email@example.com Call 9884065010
I’m on top of the world. In more ways than one. Not just because Im close to heaven in this sunny cool 360 degree terrace bar. It’s the only one of it’s kind in Munich, the city of sophisticated charm and traditional Bavarian elegance. And right here just a few floors below, I’ve also stumbled upon my all time favorite Japanese maestro’s restaurant. The one hero who took Japanese food out of it’s obscure space and put it squarely on the world gourmet map. I refer of course to Nobu… Matsuhisa Nobuyuki. He infused vibrant Peruvian flavors into the pristine minimalistic Japanese cuisine and voila…conquered the world.
NOBU IN GERMANY
Exciting! When Nobu the Japanese maestro sets up his first outpost in Germany he pays homage to it by creating a very special dish using the local Kohlrabi. And not only is that a treat in itself but the brilliant chef very generously shares the recipe too. I’ve been a Matsuhisa Nobu fan past three decades. He came from Tokyo via Lima Peru and put his vibrantly delicious interpretation of Japanese cuisine on the world map. I’ve been following him around… learning cooking (in Paris) to meeting him in LA (at chef Wolfgang Pucks amazing charity dinner) to dining at many of Restaurants across the globe from Los Angeles to Dubai.No doubt my last visit to Munich was exciting, (for my TV show for ET Now in the October Fest (wearing the traditional dirndl of course) but this visit is amazing. Right here amidst the old city, the Altstadt, I find Nobu in the timelessly elegant Mandarin Oriental which combines modern design, contemporary luxury with it’s amazingly subtle oriental accents.
In the beautiful brown and gold restaurant, enrobed in natural materials including stone, leather and wood I taste bliss. Here, in Munich, his signature miso black cod is as lusciously addictive as ever and the specially created local dish of kohlrabi salad delights. The brilliant executive chef Vasili Papatheodorou and head sushi chef Shigeru Fujita continue the Nobu magic.
NOBU’ S RECIPE KOHLRABI Salad (can substitute with baby spinach).
“We use baby greens a lot at my restaurants. Leaf vegetables turn harsh
and bitter with age, younger ones just naturally taste fresher” says Nobu “Add
some Dry Miso and fried leeks, and you have a salad bowl full of umami.”
SERVES 2 TO 4
3 oz. (90g) Kohlrabi OR baby spinach
DRY MISO AND YUZU
4 tsp. (10 g) Dry Miso
- (30 g) fried leek (recipe follows)
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (grated)
4 tsp. (10 g)
1 tsp. yuzu citrus juice
Extra virgin olive oil
Diced red bell pepper, for topping
Soak the baby spinach in ice water to crisp and drain.
Combine the baby spinach, Dry Miso, fried leek, Parmigiano-Reg-
giano, yuzu juice, truffle oil and extra virgin olive oil in a bowl and toss.
Arrange on a plate and top with bell pepper.
Makes 1 oz. (30 g)
3 in. (about 8 cm) white part of leek
Oil for deep-frying
Slash the leek lengthwise to open, and discard the inner core. Wash off the sand
between the layers under running cold water. Cut into thin shreds. Deep-fry in
low-temperature oil, about 300°F (150°C), until just before it begins to brown. Drain
on a wire rack in warm spot in the kitchen for 1 to 2 hours.
The just-fried leek looks soggy at first, but don’t worry Keeping the fried leek on a
wire rack in a warm part of the kitchen drains out the oil and turns the leek crispy.
It’s as close to heaven as I can get in Munich. Crowning the stunningly beautiful Neo Renaissance building ( 1880) is the Terrace.
Open during the summer months, The Terrace is one of Munich’s best-kept secrets. Not only do I dine sip cocktails , take a dip in the heated pool but also learn more about Munich from the gorgeous Rabea Keller and Isabelle Winter amid oriental statues and large potted plants. Love the chic Asian touches with a Mediterranean feel.
Feasting on the Asian, Mediterranean and Arabic dishes and the stunning view is a treat enough but then it gets chilli-hot…as the bartender shakes up a cocktail with a chilli. Here’s the recipe…
Virgin Tom ka Mhak
Shake together…Lime juice, pineapple juice, coconut syrup, lemon grass
YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE…WHATSHOT TASTING SESSION
Do you cook? Bake? Provide foodie services out of home? Would you like your work and yourself to be featured in this column? I will be in Chennai on the 12 TH JULY and holding a “Whats hot Tasting session” from 3pm to 6pm At Rajendra hall, ITC Grand Chola, Mount Road. To be part of it please email firstname.lastname@example.org and also email@example.com, instagram, tweet@rashmiudaysingh hashtag #whatshottastingchennai phone 9884065010. Waitingly yours. Excited to meet you and taste your work.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
- 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 email@example.com 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.