I write from paradise. And it’s not only because the biblical forbidden fruit, the apple is the focus today, or because we are standing under it’s “tree of knowledge”. It’s also because I am in the divinely beautiful mountainside overlooking meadows and forests in the world famous Lanserhof medical institution. It has been at the forefront of cutting edge research and is based on a symbiosis of traditional naturopathy and state-of-the-art medicine.
I’m on a quest. As a food critic I not only research (read eat) and write about what’s delicious and assess the world’s best restaurants as regional jury chairperson of international academies but am on a mission to find out what’s the final word on what to eat. How to eat and when to eat. And I’m in my mecca.
THE AWESOME APPLE …
The photograph I shot just outside the dining room says it all… Along with the brilliant chef Karsten Wolf who specializes in “Energy Cuisine” is the highly qualified and experienced Doctor Benedetto Reisch the dynamic medical Director. And this is exactly how the food and the recipes have evolved here…on the basis of research of 70 chefs and as many doctors. Today we focus on the nutritional powerhouse, the apple.
Its always mystified me why the apple has been projected as a “forbidden fruit” in many religious traditions and not just in the biblical story of Adam and Eve.
It’s almost magical in it’s nutritional benefits. You name it…Good source of soluble and insoluble fiber
Vitamin C , heart-healthy potassium
B-complex vitamins, anti-oxidants,
flavanoids, and dietary fiber. Studies suggest that its components are not only essential reducing cholesterol levels,
recommended for arthritis, obesity, gallbladder stones but also for optimal growth, development, and overall wellness. And since,
Europe’s leading Lanserhof medical institution, is based on the Classical Mayr Medicine, it’s focus is on the digestive system and food. Not only is their “Energy cuisine” nutritious and delicious, but the dynamic and caring Dr Benedetto Reisch, also shares the basic principles. What we eat, how we eat and what time we eat is a very crucial part of the basic concept. And chef Karsten Wolf shares the recipe of his apple chutney which can sparkle every meal and make for a great dip too.1 kg (diced) apples/
200g (finely chopped) onions/200g of brown sugar /25g of (finely chopped) ginger/2 chili peppers /1tsp salt/1tsp anchovy apple pie spice (optional)400ml white wine vinegar. Cook all ingredients till soft and then put into a mixer. Enjoy!
From Germany to Chennai. Here’s the most amazing source of energy…sprouts. I’m a great believer in the healthy magic of sprouts and the good news is that, in Chennai you can source the freshest, made to order …moong ,moth, black horsegram, brown horsegram, methi, peanuts, masoor, wheat, ragi ,jowar, etc and Shobha Golecha’s signature sprouts… the Alfa.
The enterprising Shobha not only sprouts from organic grains but also teaches and advises on various ways to enrich dishes as well as new recipes.
She ensures that these builders, repairers,and maintainers of our body and mind are made integral to our diet…in a tasty way.
“Sprouting increases the nutritional value from 20 – to 500 times the grain value.” She points out. “Its the tastiest way of going healthy ,for the busiest to the serious health enthusiasts.
Sprouts in general are protein rich full of amino acids, high fiber so detoxes,cures constipation, high in antioxides, anti inflammatory, increases immunity, controls sugar, helps weight management, and loaded with vitamins and minerals.
avorite dishes shades healthier, and boring foods more tastety, crunchy and appealing.
Use as salads, sundals, soups, in wraps, sandwiches, roti, kakra , breads,chaat, dips and chutneys, dosa , idli, raita ,accompaniments or maincourse, dressing or garnishing to where imagination can take you. Shobha home delivers, teaches on how to make sprouts at home. Her ultimate aim…”We want thousands to learn, earn and be a part of making INDIA one of the healthiest country’ s of the world, easiest way to overcome malnutrition, under a single banner.
7200028271 /9444711247 / 42850016
Enter through Pali Bhavan, walk through a dimly lit narrow curtained archway and enter a totally different world. Sexily glamorous space. Mood lighting, pendant lamps (inspired by ngob, Thai farmers’ palm leaf and bamboo hats), indoor palm and plantain trees, masterful orchestration of vibrant colour and design by the brilliant Ashiesh Shah in this intimate 40 seater space charms.
Read my full review in today’s Bombay Times!
Surprises never cease! This young enterprising doctor turned restaurateur is from Malad (his parents still live there). He came to Russia to complete his medical education, practised as a doctor and than passion for food turned into a business and today he owns 20 restaurants in South Russia. I came to know of Ajay Singh just by chance when a common friend mentioned his name in passing. No! none of Ajay’s restaurants serve Indian cuisines. It’s Russian, Pan asian ,frontier ,multi cuisines, sushi bars too. He is all set to open a Italian restaurant with renowned Italian chef Mirko Zago joining hands with the Tsar of Russian restaurant business Arkadi Novikov. Jai ho!
Regional Indian cuisine zindabad! I’m a big fan of our country’s diverse and complex regional cuisines and am constantly writing about the need for more restaurants serving these. I welcome Taftoon! It celebrates the regions along the Grand Trunk road.
Read my full review on whatshot.in
It’s heady. Its memorable and its incomparable. I refer to the amazing spectrum of tastes that I am feasting on. Here in Russia’s most magnificent 143 year old landmark, Im not only devouring Russian cuisine, history and culture but also a taste of India. From taking a Masterclass in the most supreme of all Epicurean luxuries, Caviar to tasting traditional and contemporary Russian dishes to vegetarian Asian delights and (here’s the happy surprise) superb Indian cuisine too.
It’s great to be part of gastronomic history: dining in Russia’s first restaurant which had electricity, feasting on 143 years of history in this stunningly beautiful Grand hotel Europe in St Petersburg with its high stained glass ceilings, balconies where the Tsars sat is a treat. Luxury and class drips from every detail. It is here that Tchaikovsly honeymooned, where Elton John played on the piano Bill Clinton, Whitney Houston and our Prime minister Modi dined. And this is where I attend an amazing caviar master class.
OF CAVIAR CROWNED
It doesn’t get any better than this: attending a caviar masterclass in the home-country of this supreme epicurean pleasure. And that too in Russia’s only caviar restaurant, Caviar Bar & Restaurant, which serves only the best caviar with vodkas you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
Would you believe that the best way of tasting caviar is to put a bit of it on the back of one’s hand and lick it off? The caviar master and sommelier articulate and knowledgable Nikita yurin explains it all… the very basic… only fish eggs produced by the sturgeon fish ( a prehistoric huge fish ) can be called caviar to the types, preservation, history, telling fake from real. etc.
It’s a joy to accompany the dapper, dynamic Sven Gevers, a knowledgable caviar buff, who helms this landmark. This discerning, highly qualified economist and globe trotting gourmet even breakfasts on eggs and caviar. Chipping in with her experiences and helping translate many a Russian term, is the ever helpful Irina Khlopova.
Before us are Mother of pearl spoons (essential to serve the caviar to avoid metal oxidation). The finest caviar to the least expensive salmon one, a line up of vodkas and champagne. Also accompaniments, take your pick (though toast is the most traditional) Russian coin shaped pancakes or blini, Boiled potatoes
Pancakes go well too.. One thing is for sure, points out Nikita, “caviar should not be eaten with onion or lemon” It should be
Stored in the coldest part of your refrigerator, as close to the freezer as possible.
We taste the finest Beluga (made from the Beluga fish of the sturgeon family) caviar, it has the largest grains, is creamy, has a fishy flavour, of seaweed and even walnuts.
Oscietra fish (16 types) Sevruga Sterlet (smallest grains) and Bester are some of the main varieties of caviar. In this short space its impossible to include it all,
All I can say, is that it’s fascinating to learn about these precious black pearls, which Russia s been eating since before the 14th century. It’s methods of production and preservation, which determine the taste and price of caviar. When pasteurized the price and taste gets compromised.
CAVIAR WISHES AND CHAMPAGNE DREAMS
To crown it all is the Tchaikovsky night where I taste Russia’s food, history, art, culture, dance all in one bite of this traditional “egginanegg” dish you see in the photograph. It has egg crowned with caviar which pirouette with salty buttery nutty notes on my palate as the ballerinas twirl to Tchaikovskys compositions. Caviar wishes and champagne dreams do come true. May yours too.
Amid the finest of caviar, the best of Russian and modern Russian dishes, Japanese and Asian dishes our very own Indian dazzle too . Appreciated and enjoyed by Hema Malini to our Prime Minister Modi who stayed here but happily by the Russians too. Seeing the popularity of Indian cuisine the multi-talented Executive Chef Ian Christopher Minnis is in the midst of coordinating a “Mystery of India” festival here. He ensures the finest gourmet dinners in St Petersburg’s most gastronomique L Europe restaurant (serving authentic Russian masterpieces) to the legendary caviar bar to the Asian restaurant Azia. It is here that the young talented chef Indian chef Sachdev Kathait’s Indian menu is in great demand. Authentic delicious dal, kebabs and tandoori, Chef Kathait ‘s unique “pickle prawns” and “cheese chicken” combine the best of both worlds but retain their authentic Indian flavour.
Should you need their recipes please email email@example.com
I’m sending you a taste of Russia’s food, history, art, culture, dance all in one bite of this traditional “egginanegg” dish you see in the photograph. The ballerinas twirl to the music of “Nutcracker suite” my favorite Russian maestro Tchaikovsky’s composition and do so in the very same historic 143 year old, stunningly beautiful stained glass-ceilinged restaurant where Tchaikovsky honeymooned.
It is here too that our Prime Minister Modi dined and Belmond Grand Hotel Europe, the most iconic landmark, witness to the history of the stunning St. Petersburg has been the haunt of global superstars, presidents and royalty. Bill Clinton, Whitney Houston, George Bernard Shaw and many more have dined here. To dine here is to be part of history, to taste Chef Ian Christopher Minnis’s masterpieces from Asian to traditional Russian. And do a Caviar master class too. But that’s another story!
Foo-dies rejoice! The brand new Asian Tapas restaurant “Foo” translates to “ fortune” “goodluck” in Chinese And fortunately (for us and the owners) it serves up well-made food, moderate pricing, great ambiance and friendly service. All four elements of what makes a restaurant tick. Add to that the fifth, buzz…Foo is buzzing already.
Read my full review in today’s Bombay Times!
I’m an admirer. I have a big fat soft corner for the restaurateurs who use their restaurant not just to make more and more money (nothing wrong with that) but also for a good cause. To help the differently abled.
Read my full review in today’s Bombay Times!
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.