Foodie-ism is the rocking new “ism” of our times. Even highfalutin fashion brands have jumped in to set up restaurants and hotels. I’ve dined Dolce Gabbanas Gold (humdrum except for the gold bar dessert), Armani (worlds worst Caesars salad), great swimming pool in Bulgari (London), a Gourmet stay in Palazzo Versace (Gold Coast). So when the jet setting glamorous gourmets and real estate tycoon couple Anurag and Meera Bhatia invited me to Italian fashion czar Ferragamo’s recently opened “Il Borro” it became worth my while to stop in Dubai just for this dinner. Loved the sleek, glamorous Tuscan bistro and it’s traditional Tuscan flavours, snowy buratta to the salt baked fish, crisp vegetables (all flown in from Ferragamo’s gardens of Il Borro in Tuscany). Mukesh Luthra, chairman of his beauty and wellness global empire, sparkled the evening and we raised a toast to his birthday. With Ferragamo’s “Il Borro” wine of course.
Delicious news! Mumbai is trailblazing and showing the way to Dubai. In more ways than one. Our very own revered and feared, media baron (Blitz) the late Russy Karanjia’s grand-daughter Faarah Mehta Shewakramani’s pioneering and fully booked up elective educational academy is the talk of the town. It is infusing culture, art and even gourmet (love that) knowledge . High profile editor Rita Mehta Karanjia makes time from her hectic media and celebrity management work, to be the supportive mother. Who would’ve thought that a dinner at a world famous Peruvian restaurant in Dubai would be all about shining the spotlight on Mumbai and India? Over the vibrant, fragrant and colourful dishes, I discover that Lilavati hospital in Mumbai is named after my other guest, the talented Liza Mehta Vyas’s philanthropic mother. And as though all these Mumbai connections were not enough, not only is Coya owned by the Indian Waney brothers but even the executive chef is Indian. Jai ho!
I cant stop smiling! I am at a unique and much cherished dinner. She’s twenty two years old and has won the world’s first vegetarian masterchef. He is 56 years old, a revered Michelin starred chef from Italy. She is a Gujarati born and bred in Abu dhabi and has majored in finance and business from a prestigious American university. Whereas Roberto Franzin is from a family of professional chefs and cooks, Nikita Gandhi grew up watching her mother cook (she has never baked). Having won the masterchef series zoomed Nikita into the international lime light (and she even assisted Sanjeev Kapoor in cooking for Prime minister Modi). Roberto honed his formidable talents under superstars: Spanish Chef Santi Santimaria, and the French chef Jean François Piège and his restaurant has been conferred the coveted Michelin stars.
SHHH! SECRETS AHEAD
Im about to share a very yummy secret with you. Correction: many secrets that will help you cook and eat healthy as well as tasty. And creating these recipes and sharing them freely is a slender, slim and sunshiny young girl. I was so rivetted by her instagram posts that I requested to meet her. Whoa! What an amazing success story…Karen McLean , this Australian-Vietnamese girl moved to Dubai only two years ago and since then has millions of fan followers. She’s a qualified CA who came to a foreign country (Dubai), loves cooking and her dad and grandpa are amazing cooks. But healthy eating recipes are her very own and it was accidentally that Karen started sharing them on her website and instagram and voila! her fan following hit sky high.
Is it possible? Can just one evening tasting session deliver the best of a city’s food-scene? The very best of cupcakes Gourmet shewaramas, salads et al? yup! possible, but only when the knowledgable foodie hostess and publishing consultant and whiz, the lovely Faarah Mehta generously sources and then equally generously opens up her stylish villa (private beach et al) for my Whats hot tasting session. As does her foodie husband, retailing tycoon, the dashing Saagar Shewakramani. High voltage, brilliant editor of a leading lifestyle magazine Kavita Srinivasan, Sridip Ganguly, software expert are foodies extraordinaires too.
MY DOUBLE TREAT
It’s a treat to beat all treats. A Double Treat, whichever way you look at it. And Im not only referring to the delicious nutritious dates (which I cant stop eating) but also my delightful dates from South India. The brilliant Executive chef Thirimalai Murugan ‘s award winning dish blends South India and Dubai so is it any wonder that the dish was given highly prestigious UAE award? The creative and hard working chef from kanyakumari has not only honed his talents all over the world, but has also spearheaded many a hotel pre-opening team.
A request. Please take a look at the accompanying photograph: would you believe I shot this in the hot, arid desert? Such a fabulous relief to be amongst lush tropical gardens and trees in this concrete skyscrapered Dubai! It gets even more exciting because here in the cosmopolitan, diverse Dubai, not only does this multi-talented, brilliant Executive chef share his recipe of my most favorite dessert, the Crepes Suzette but many an invaluable multi-cuisine cooking tip too. Here he is, flambéing the pancake dessert by drizzling the Grand Marnier liquor down the orange rind and swapping many an interesting culinary story too.
While researching for my latest book, I dined at Roberto’s, the contemporary Italian restaurant in Dubai.
The elaborate menu is set by the brilliant Executive Chef Andrea Mugavero.
Roberto’s houses three refreshing concepts under one roof: the elegant main dining room, Il Ristorante, the buzzing lounge, Il Salotto, and an open air terrace, La Terrazza. Combined, these three areas create a unique sense of belonging appropriate for all occations.
I dine at the wondeful, La Petite Maison, where we trip out on the worlds best French toast and Burrata. This restaurant has been rated amongst the World’s 100 best restaurants. Local produce, notably artichokes, courgettes, lemons, olives, tomatoes, peppers and girolles are used generously with sea food, meat and fresh pasta to produce a style that’s light and healthy at La Petite Maison.