I’m rejoicing! My ongoing global research on gourmet vegetarian food just got more exciting. In the past few months I’ve tracked the best of the best vegetarian in Japan, China, Russia, Austria and now in the capital of glamor and films…Los Angeles. I’m feeling like a million dollars as I report from a charmed frontier (Hollywood, where else?) where fantasy is blending into reality, and that too in it’s beloved and iconic landmarks. Both close to each other in the glamorously beautiful Beverly Hills. Every square inch of both bristles with star power. Both are the haunt of Hollywood and the global who’s who. Both are legends…
In this legendary landmark, glamor and luxury drips in every practical detail and human warmth marks every hi-tech comfort. The iconic Beverly Wilshire “Pretty Woman hotel” (the movie was filmed here) turns ninety at the close of this year yet continues to rock with a youthful rhythm and beat.
Star spangled Hollywood dines, meets and stays here, it is also officially on the National Register of Historic Places of the United States. Superstars such as Elvis Presley, Warren Beatty and Steve McQueen have all lived in this luxurious landmark. As does our very own Bollywood. Over the years, I’ve had salad with Priyanka Chopra, muesli with Anil Kapoor and steak with Javed Akhtar here. A favourite of Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta, Anil Kapoor, Hrithik Roshan, Karan Johar and others.
I love to soak in the cool sunshine in BLVD, their patio restaurant on the stunning sun-drenched, Rodeo drive designer boulevard to the world. I feast on the brilliant chefs freshest of seasonal California and watch the sun bronzed greek gods with their six pack abs and la-di-da babes with endless legs glide by. And today am doubly delighted: their brilliant new executive chef is not only our very own Samir Roonwal but he especially cooks up some delightful pure vegetarian dishes which sparkle with the Californian and Indian touch. Having worked in world famous kitchens and had the who’s who eating out of his hands Samir is now creating culinary magic here.
And it is here in BLVD, ( voted top “Power Tables” … Wall Street Journal) that I catch up with him as well as the dapper, high-energy Ben Trodd, who not only helms this landmark, but also spearheads nine other superb hotels. This discerning gourmet, well-travelled Vice President wears his success and his designer suit with equal panache. We trip out on the Crunchy okra smeared with the velvety dip, which makes for the perfect cocktail snack and I request chef Samir to share the recipe with us. After this the gorgeous Lauren Dutton Breen takes me up to show me Los Angeles very first “Glamping” site.
But that another exciting story…
P.S. Within this hotel itself is yet another superb restaurant CUT by America’s high-priest of cuisine Wolfgang Puck. It specialises in non-vegetarian food. A short stroll away is his landmark Spago, where I taste yet another veggie wow.
Chef Roonwal’s Crispy OKRA
2 cups: Okra Julienne
1 tsp: Toasted Cumin seeds
1 tsp: Chilli powder
1 tsp: Dry mango powder
1/2 cup: Chickpea Flour
1 tsp: Onion Seeds
1/2 tsp: Turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Wash okra well, dry them out completely and Julienne them.
Add all the dry spice powders and seeds, along with salt, to the okra.
Toss them well till incorporated and set it down for 5 mins.
Then sprinkle chickpea flour on top (start with a few tbsps). Mix them well. Add a few tsps water so the okra gets coated with the flour.
Deep fry them in oil. Serve hot.
Ingredient: Julienne Okra, Spiced Chickpea Flour, Dry Mango Powder
Garnish: Pomegranate Seeds Fresh, Mustard Flower, Micro Cilantro
He has recently received his own star on the Hollywood walk of fame. So when this superstar celebrity chef, restaurateur, and occasional actor, Wolfgang Puck takes three hours off his busy schedule to lunch with me its celebration time. We do so in his three decades old landmark Spago which continues to play host to the who’s who of the world, to Oscar premieres restaurants and more. Wolfgangs catering services, cookbooks and licensed products are in great demand. We chat about his 27 (and counting) restaurants around the world and I trip out on the outstanding vegetarian tasting menu. Though Wolfgang Puck is single handedly responsible to introduce gourmet pizzas to the world and his signature dish at his original restaurant, Spago, is House Smoked Salmon Pizza, he continues to introduce flavours from around the world.
Today, his brilliant young chef Tetsuya cooks up an amazing pumpkin baked in salt, tangy sweet plaintain salad served in a half coconut, a parmesan marshmallow and beetroot cookie flag off our multi-course vegetarian lunch which ends with a light and bright melon dessert. And in Wolfgang Pucks Hollywood flagship restaurant in Los Angeles, their Japanese chef cooks up the most deliciously creamy (hold your breath) baingan bharta. And my joy comes full circle.
Whoa! A gourmet pure vegetarian and vegan menu in Hollywood Roosevelt, the very heart of Hollywood itself. Here, Hollywood history lives, breathes and dazzles. It was here that the first Oscars were held in 1927, it has the “Hollywood Walk of Fame” at it’s feet and is within air kissing distance of the iconic “Dolby Theatre” where the Oscars are held. Marilyn Monroe lived here, by this poolside. It is right here that along with Andrea Escobar, I get a taste of the brilliant chef Josh Eden’s vegan creations (including the bagel and lox made of carrots and tofu). Having opened over 30 restaurants around the world Chef Eden is all set to add this delicious vegetarian, vegan dimension here. Don Jacinto who helms this iconic landmark ensures that all normal people are treated like movie stars and movie stars like normal people. Therein lies the magic!
Whoa! What a stellar role food plays, here in the land of beauty, glamor and eternal youth. I report from a charmed frontier (Hollywood, where else?) where every square inch bristles with style and star power. Here fantasy is blending into reality and luxury is dripping in every practical detail in the legendary Beverly Wilshire (Pretty Woman) hotel on Los Angele’s stunning sun-drenched, Rodeo drive designer boulevard to the world Here, two of my passions come together in a sacred union, cutting edge food and plenty of vibrantly healthy fare too. Not only does Americas leading chef Wolfgang Puck have a restaurant here but the French genius Thomas Bellec along with his spectacular fare serves up equally spectacular healthy fare.
And so by the deep blue of the pool (it’s the shape of Sophia Loren’s pool in her villa ) I taste Chef Bellec’s healthy Spa menu. Here, fragrant lemons hang from trees, flowers bloom and the vibrant sun shine warms the cool air.
The sunbronzed Greek gods with their six packabs and la-di-da babes with endless legs swim and lounge around the pool. It is here that I can feel eight decades of Beverly Wilshire’s elegant history tangoing with youthful energy. The grace of stately centuries melds with high octane new age gusto. Elvis Presley, Warren Beatty and Steve McQueen have all lived in the Hotel. And then ofcourse the Hotel shot into global fame when 25 years ago it was the the movie Pretty Woman starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere was shot here. I have dined here with Anil kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Gulshan Grover and many others in the BeverlyWilshire. Both Hollywood and Bollywood lives and dines here.
Today I sample Chef Bellec’s amazing energizing dishes and chat with the lovely Audrey Slade, globetrotting communication dynamo. The patissseur extraordinaire Chris Ford’s unique chocolate Christmas tree ornaments (a mallet is with the ornament so guests can have some fun breaking it and sharing it) delight. I love his cool modern versions the bûche de Noël – there’s a Caramel Fruits log with vanilla genoise, caramelized berries, and vanilla cremeux, and a Chocolate Peppermint version with salted caramel mousse.
And to balance the sheer chocoholic indulgence I trip out on the healthy and delicious wrap…Chef bellec shares the recipe with us \
Interestingly, Chef Bellec’s simple yet sophisticated dishes are marked by fresh ingredients and seasonal producS
EGG WHITES DELIGHT
We are know that eggs are very rich in protein but did you know that egg whites contain more than half (four of the six grams) of an egg’s protein? And that is because of the the biological function of the egg white is to keep the yolk in place, and to provide water, protein and other nutrients to the developing embryo. Other than protein,
Riboflavin, selenium. Potassium and sodium. Sodium too. Theres more good news, whites are a low-calorie food, with just 17 calories — opposed to 71 per whole egg. The news gets better cause egg whites, contain no saturated fat or cholesterol. So if you’re on a diet or watching your ccholesterol or have diabetes or heart disease. Then the choice of egg white is the right one for you. To have a healthy and delicious recipe for egg whites, please try Chef Bellec’s BW Spa wrap/
PASSION FOR PASTRY
Why would I, a dyed in the drool foodie be doing here in Los Angeles’ famed fashionable Rodeo Drive? This world famous glamorous designer boulevard continues to be the crowning shopping experience. Globally renowned for it’s luxurious high fashion, Los Angeles’ Rodeo Drive magnetizes the rich and the famous with its super luxurious clothes, bags, shoes and jewelery in it’s super elegant stores. But in my view, None of that can compare with the luxurious patisserie that is igniting my passion. And this is what brings me here again and again.
Celebrations continue in Los Angeles, the city of angels. Dining in dazzling Hollywood’s glamor restaurant, the iconic Spago (a known celeb magnet since the 80s where Oscar parties are held) is a celebration in itself. The down to earth genius, Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant has been on Americas top ten list for three decades. It is here along with the lovely Angelino Pia Davis, that we are celebrating her mother Meher Davis’s birthday along with Firoza Moos. For the past 14 years, these two healers extraordinaire have been coming to Los Angeles’ cutting edge allergy eliminating research institute to upgrade their healing skills.
I write from Hollywood, the star-spangled capital of cool, with it’s vivid blue skies, bright sunny cold days. It has this mesmerizing effect as I find myself being guided through the newest and the best (by LA Times Food critic Irene Verbilia and two Foodie Angelenos, actor, writer Dhruv Uday Singh and Tracy Dubin.) We celebrate at the new, packed with star-power Hakkasan that sprawls glamorously in Beverly Hills. Superb food and two Indian stand up comics (who make India proud) for company… Mon rok and Tushar Singh. We also dine at the high-priest of American cuisine, Wolfgang Pucks 3 decades old flagship Spago which is as good as ever. Nobu’s first ever restaurant Matsuhisa” delivers a seamlessly great experience. The Japanese Katsuya’s sushi and sashimi, the airy cheery downtown’s Bottega Louie’s Sweet potato chips are lodged in my taste bud memory. “Blvd” in the “Pretty Woman” hotel’s (Beverly Wilshire) new French chef Thomas Bellec weaves magic.Another must visit is Ladies Gunboat Society at Flores for outstanding Southern fare. Need more info pl email firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh
Whoa! What energy! Aamchi Mumbai is rocking with youth and energetic bars and nightplaces…from Colaba (Colaba Social) through Parel (PDT) to Andheri (Boveda). Before leaving for Los Angeles, I visited each of these new arrivals. Thumbs up to the infusion of youthful energy.
Boveda in Andheri is not only for the young nightbirds but is also set up by two 24 year olds and has an equally young chef.
The sprawling 2,500 sq feet space with it’s suspended retro bulbs, wooden crates for lamp shades exposed brick walls give it an industrial look. A long dramatically lit-up bar and an outdoor patio complete the décor.
FOOD DRINKS AND GIGS
43 starters and 6 mains. Dinner is obviously not what you go there for. Plenty of drinks and gigs is what you do go for…there is no entry or cover charge. DJ s (Arjun Wagle Ma Faiza, Ankytrixx, Sanjay Dutta) artists ( Whirling Kalapas, Nikhil D’zouza etc) rock the place..
Ask for the robustly spiced, tossed spiced mushroom jalapeno, the deepfried tasty veg croquette plump with paneer and spinach. Enjoy the dominant paprika flavor of the spiced chicken. I particularly liked the smoked haloumi cheese on the American pizza. Desserts were woefully lacking, the chocolate ganache tart was good but not the greatest.The must try signature Bóveda cocktails – BVD, Spiked Old Fashion, Melon Ball and The Green Beast.
More maincourses are definitely needed. And some of the dishes on the menu, like the chorizo prawn stew with pao, the Madras curry chicken with rice lack the zing and don’t pass muster. Ditto for the halumi potato mushroom butter garlic starter. More desserts please!
Open only in the evening, this fairly new Andheri arrival is already rocking. Boveda (“vault” in Spanish) doesn’t mean you go looking for Spanish food (there are a few dishes). Don’t go for looking for dinner either, do go for a great night out (plenty of action) cocktails, well-plated starters (please see photo) and a lusty, young vibe. Rock on!
BOVEDA G04, Morya Landmark One, Plot B-25, Off New Link Road, Oshiwara Village, Andheri (West). 67080858/59
Rs 1800 for two without alcohol
Open 6.30pm to 1am
RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5
A TASTE OF HOLLYWOOD
Hot, hotter and haute. Newest to the iconic legendary Los Angeles restaurants… I am eating non-stop (guided by my friend, the LA Times food critic, Irene Verbila). Here reality is more exciting than fantasy. See the accompanying photo and you’ll know what I mean. Long necked swans glide gently past
Wolfgang Puck’s (America’s uncrowned King of chefs) restaurant as his multi-talented executive chef Hugo Bolanos conjures up the most exciting Californian produce driven dishes. Here in Belair, amid the serene, the worlds most romantic 12 acres of lush green paradise, Hollywood legends like Grace Kelly , Marilyn Monroe have lived and dined for over 5 decades. Even today this romantic haven is full of stars lounging in the Californian cool sunshine.
Here’s the hottest new three month old restaurant “Flores and ladies gunboat society” (Southern American fare to kill for). Mario Batalli’s “Pizzeria Mozza” the century old, open 24 hours “Pacific dining car”remain favorites . Quite the opposite is Jose Andres cutting edge “Bazar” as good as ever. Ive just received the most precious courier (from Napa valley) the of the most luscious peaches and pluots from the worlds most legendary fruit grower “Frog Hollow farm”. All thanks to our very own globetrotting gourmet and finance whiz Arjun Divecha. Meanwhile the swans are gliding gently as I savor Wolfgang Puck’s signature steak over sundaybrunch and hey! Lionel Richie is on my neighboring table. I have stars in my eyes…and hey waiter is that a star in my soup?
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