No two ways about it. They’re indispensable. They’re my guiding lights: they take me off the eaten path. They plug me into the insider foodie pulse of the city they live in. Mumbai, New York, Dubai, Hong Kong , Berlin, Paris and now my very latest…Los Angeles. And of course, they’re fabulous fun. I refer to my #FoodieBlinddates which i’ve been going on past 3 decades. Now, with Instagram and twitter, its simple I just post that I’m visiting a city and invite Blind dates. Pre-social media days too, along with my column I had a phone answering machine and went on many a fab foodie blind-date.
Till date my best every foodie blind date was my most recent in Los Angles. Three gorgeous powerhouses of energy and foodie information guided me to two amazing great value for money restaurants… Pizzana and Destroyer. Big time international food influencer, Kaitlin travels around the world as a TasteHunter. We lunch, munch and
and dance in Chef Daniele Uditi’s awesome pizzas…the best in LA.
Caitlin Sakdalan who lives bi-coastally between NYC and California shares her info on FAT (food and travel.) Jesse Hsu, Wedding Dancer.
documents food, chefs, and stories with his camera And Chef Daniele Uditi’s Italain food dazzles. We go on to eat to The Destroyer…but that’s another yummy story.
SHOOTING WITH THE STARS
Thrilling. Memorable. Delicious moments. Woven together in Los Angeles, when we were shooting for an international cooking competition for Netflix, the worlds largest streaming network. The India episode of The Final table, brought together superstars… Michelin starred celebrity chef Vineet Bhatia, awardwinning Actor Madhavan, Hasan Minhaj and yours truly as the India food critic on the judging panel. Amongst the 24 contestant chefs, there was only one from India… national award winning best female chef Amninder Sandhu. What did we all have in common? Shooting in Los Angeles super hitech Sony Pictures studio.
And of course, fittingly enough, Netflix hosted our stay in the most iconic of Los Angeles hotels…,
The LA landmark, “pretty woman hotel”, Beverly Wilshire. Located on the glamour boulevard to the world, the Rodeo drive, its been a favorite of Hollywood and Bollywood superstars for nine decades. Star spangled Hollywood dines ,meets and stays here and happily so do ShahRukh Khan, Preity Zinta, Anil Kapoor and others.
And it continues to rock with a youthful energy. Feeding this super glam contemporary buzz in this legendary hotel is our very own Executive chef Samir Roonwal Specialized in Contemporary International and Asian Cuisine. Having dined at Michelin starred Chef Vineet Bhatias restaurants in London Dubai and Mumbai, it was great to spend relaxed time with him lunching on the sundrenched patio of the BLVD. And nibbling on Chef Roonwal’s healthy and delicious creations with the forever helpful lovely Lauren Dutton Breen was a treat. 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’s CUT restaurant raise the bar but Chef Roonwal serves up equally spectacular healthy fare. Here’s a sample …
1 Whole Lemon Juice
4 Teaspoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Teaspoon sea salt
1 Oz Caviar
10 ml Fennel Oil
1 Fennel Flower for Garnish (optional)
Freshly Cracked Black Pepper, To Taste
- Cut the Avocados in half and remove the stone and the skin.
- Slice the Avocado very thin and arrange it one by one in an overlapping form.
- Sprinkle lemon juice on the cut pieces. Season with salt and cracked Pepper.
- Brush some Fennel Oil on the Avocado.
- Garnish with a quenelle of and a fennel Flower.
UNDER THE STARS
First time ever… You can now sleep under the stars in this shimmering city of stars. Camping in a tent for two on the top of Beverly Hills most iconic landmark. “Glamping” just got redefined… a tent with a shimmering crystal chandelier, marble lamps, and plush rugs. Feasting not just on unparalleled, breathtaking city views but feasting also on te exclusive, 8 course gourmet glamping tasting menu which changes seasonally, in which every dish is customized to your choice. Chef Roonwal cooks this tasting menu in person, on the Veranda, using elevated takes on picnic table favorites. End with innovative reimagination of Campfire S’mores with 24k gold leaf from celebrity chef Chris Ford. Luxury drips in every practical detail. Here,reality is more exciting than fantasy!!!
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.