Mind boggling choices here. Should I take a class in it’s most legendary cooking school? Feast in the Michelin starred uber luxurious restaurant? Dine on traditional brasserie classics? Or take a sip of history in my favourite author Ernest Hemingways favourite bar ? Not to mention that it has the city’s best swimming pool (perfect to burn calories and build up an appetite) Over the years I’ve been doing it all. One step at a time. For sure this ain’t no mere Parisian hotel. It’s a global legend. It is over a hundred years old and still in line with the times. It has not only been witness to history but has even rewritten history, inspired trailblazers and blazed many a trend itself. Beloved of literary geniuses (Hemingway, Proust et al) movie stars, fashion legends, this is the only hotel in the world whose name become part of our vocabulary and has even inspired the song “Putting on the Ritz” ( dress fashionably). Founded in 1898 by two of the worlds greatest names in hospitality, Cesar Ritz and the greatest French Chef Auguste Escoffieur it was the first to have lifts, electricity and private bathrooms. A few years ago it went through renovations but preserved its period furniture and paintings à la Louis XV et al. Christian Boyens who helms this landmark ensures that it continues to be the queen of hotels and hotel of queens.
THE GREAT TABLES OF THE WORLD
Whoa! So many stars in the afternoon? A few days ago, at the iconic Ritz, I attended the elegant and exclusive launch of the prestigious Les Grand Table du Monde 2018 (the great tables of the world).Only Michelin starred chefs present at the launch of this guide established in 1954 to “defend the values of great gastronomy and the art of living” covers 26 countries, across five continents and features 172 restaurants. President David Sinapian, presented the Guide and the ten new members in the salons of the iconic Ritz Paris. My co chairperson of the Worlds 50 best restaurant academy. Nicolas Chatenier flagged off the delicious afternoon with his welcome speech. And a memorial tribute to Paul Bocuse, caviar, oysters to Baba au rum and DomPerignon sparkled the afternoon. It was the brilliant starred chefs who lit up the afternoon. Three starred Alain Ducasse, George Blanc to Pierre Hermes and Yannick Alleno. And playing the perfect host was Chef Nicolas Sale. Ritz’s Michelin-starred restaurant L’Espadon (swordfish), shimmering with mirrors, chandeliers, Louis XV chairs, porcelain and silver cloches continues to provide the perfect setting for his imaginative creations. Fresh from a two-star restaurant in Chamonix, he brings a contemporary vision to luxury ingredients, as in his three-stage starters (lure, raw, cooked) like langoustine with caviar and a main course of Bresse chicken for two.
Named after the noble prize winning author (and my hero) Ernest Hemingway, this charming iconic bar weaves magic. Heres an excerpt from my book “A vegetarian in Paris” (A Times Publication).
“Just what do you think the renowned American author Hemingway did in this bar which he loved? Knock back martinis ofcourse, but, the unverified story goes that its thanks to his boozing ways that the “Bloody Mary” was invented here. “Make a drink which I can drink all day and which doesn’t stay on my breath” he boomed at the Ritz bartender “so that when I go home, bloody Mary cannot smell it”. Mary was the third (or was it fourth wife?) of this colorful, lovable author. Infact, after the World war and the German occupation of this hotel, it was Hemingway who was the first to bring in his buddies and “liberate” the hotel. The award winning mixologist, Colin Field helms this masculine, cozy warm wood paneled bar with leather chairs and high stools studded with his photos and of famous authors were regulars here (Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce to name a couple). On the menu are a few veggie dishes (artichoke platter, risotto) and many a Hemingway favorite cocktail too.”
And this time at this star among the bars (done up with original photos and letters from Hemingway) I once again elbowed my way into the packed space to chat with brilliant bar chief Colin Peter Field and request him for his Bloody Mary recipe. Should you want it, please email me email@example.com
It was an amazing dream come true…I attended a cooking class by the world famous Japanese chef Nobu at this legendary.
Ritz-Escoffier School of French Gastronomy in the Ritz. The ethos of the school is based on Escoffier’s words, “Good cuisine is the foundation of true happiness.” It offers training courses and workshops for amateur and professional cooks and I never miss a chance of attending one.
Please take a look at the accompanying photograph (shot amid mountains, an hours drive from Paris.) I’ve shot it on this snowy morning after having just taken an invigorating dip in the outdoor hot Norwegian tub. Had a delicious organic breakfast (with the home made jams on freshly baked yeasty bread). It’s all part of “Echo” the philosophy of well-being which runs through it’s beauty and lifestyle organic products and food in Chateau de Sacy, this beautiful castle on a hill in the midst of vineyards. Chef Nicolas Christoforretti, infuses his cuisine with the culinary richness of the Champagne district. And the lovely Tiphaine Brossier ensures a seamless experience. I get high on this whole new aspect of wellness as I do on nature, art, history, culture and ofcourse champagne. After all I’m reporting from France’s Champagne district where not only is the king of wines and the wine of kings made, but where thirty three French kings were crowned in the UNESCO heritage jewel of a gothic cathedral. Sante!
The Parisian night is thick with excitement. I could cut it with a knife and pop it into my champagne glass I raise a toast to this 250 year old historic treasure that has recently been reborn to global applause and been making headlines ever since. We’re dining amid this contemporary palace’s architectural riches of the 18th century which have been transformed into state of the art 21st century modern French art de vivre.
We re at the tiny intimate jewelbox L’Ecrin, Hôtel de Crillon’s gastronomic restaurant. Id met the young and brilliant Chef Christopher Hache several years ago and he is in my book “A vegetarian in Paris” (A Times Group Books publication). Here’s the exciting bit…next day I attended the prestigious Michelin Guide awards and applauded him receiving his very first Michelin star. So once again Crillon is hitting the headlines. Kudos to our very own superstylish, superstar hotelier Radha Arora who as President of the international group has been spearheading this transformation. As we feast on Chef Hache’s masterpieces of flavour and texture, Im delighted that my young friend, entrepreneur and pastry chef Pooja Dhingra could join me at short notice (thanks to Instagram). Pooja has been seamlessly and continuously delivering Parisian styled culinary experiences in India. Inspirational journey… from working out of a tiny kitchen at home, to three stores, a café, two books and the 31 year old has exciting plans ahead. We nibble the night away as chef Hache continues to dazzle and the ever charming Pierre Jung ensures we have the perfect flawless French gastronomic starred experience. After all we’re in the world’s most excitingly luxurious modern day palace with an 18th century soul.
Im celebrating. Im saluting the trailblazing culinary revolution focussing on health, vegetables, naturalness that is taking place here, in Paris, the gastonomique capital of the world. I’ve been researching vegetarian restaurants around the world ( China, Russia, Japan too) and here in Paris I find paradise. This Parisian landmark is synonymous with Dior, Dietrich and diamonds. This is where icons and trends are born since 1913. And it is here in Plaza Athenee that the very best of the best, the Michelin starred maestro Alain Ducasse’s shimmering temple to gastronomy is blazing trails. He serves up the trilogy…vegetables, cereals and fish. It goes without saying that the brilliant chef in the restaurant Romain Meder, ensures that the technical base of French haute cuisine remains intact, including expertise and absolutely precise detailing for vegetable preparation, cooking and seasoning.
NO GARDENER, NO COOKS
Its amazing that here in this temple to high gastronomy the gardener is being given as much importance as the chefs. And there are several reasons for it.
Head gardener of the Royal Grand park de Versailles at the behest of François Delahaye who helms Plaza Athénée have established an exclusive partnership with the Palace of Versailles for the vegetables and fruits supply of the Alain Ducasse restaurant.
The freshest of seasonal Sorrel, squash, broad beans, zucchini, to shallots, rhubarb… dazzle. Also artichokes introduced centuries ago by Catherine de Medicis and were a runaway success at Court because of their hypothetical aphrodisiac virtues .
Needless to say, all these fruits and vegetables are never exposed to phytosanitary chemicals etc. Picked in the morning and in the kitchen with hours. The ever helpful Isabelle Maurin translates whenever I need explanations in the kitchen.
Starting off with the refreshing tomato water flavoured with hibiscus, a parade of masterpieces dazzle, black current in black rice, the kiss of beetroot flavour in amaranth seeds, the crunch of flax or sunflower seed and so on. This approach infuses the work of the talented pastry chef, Jessica Préalpato too.
What do Liz Taylor, Marlene Dietrich have in common with the Parisian landmark Plaza Athenee? Plenty. For sure, they along with legendary figures of the world of glamor and royalty loved to stay here but there is also a deeper connect: a delicious salad dish. I tasted this Salad Mc carthy for the first time in Los Angeles, in Polo Lounge, Hollywood’s most beloved and historic dining institution, when it had just undergone a subtle Tihany-style revamp to celebrate it’s 100th year .It was in Beverly hills (also part of the Dorchester collection) The Polo Lounge that Charlie Chaplin had a standing reservation, Marlene Dietrich, eradicated the “no slacks for women” dress code and dined here. And the gorgeous beauty Liz Taylor honeymooned here four times . Her daily favorite used to be the McCarthy salad . I loved it then and requested for the recipe too, Imagine my delight when the dapper Francois Delahaye (who I met just by chance thanks to my old friend Paul Roll) shows it to me on the menu and has it made too. Ofcourse here in Paris it has been adapted by Ducasse and diced bigger and softer. But I reproduce for you my Hollywood Polo Lounge recipe.
Beverly Hills Hotel McCarthy Salad
1/4 head iceburg lettuce
1/2 head romaine lettuce
1/2 cup grilled, diced free-range chicken
1/2 cup diced roasted red beets
1/4 cup free range egg yolk
1/4 cup free range egg white
1/2 cup bacon
1/4 cup diced tomato
1/4 cup diced avocado
Balsamic Dressing Recipe
1 c. Balsamic Vinegar
1 T. brown Sugar
3 cloves roasted garlic
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
salt and black pepper
Place all ingredients in a blender and drizzle in the vegetable oil to emulsify. Check seasoning
Arrange salad in bowl. Toss with balsamic vinaigrette tableside. You can vary ingredients according to your preferences.
Haute cuisine and haute couture are being seamlessly celebrated here. And Im overjoyed that “naturalness’ cuisines’ vegetarian masterpieces are not only being created in Michelin starred maestro Alain Ducasse’s shimmering restaurant located in the iconic couture landmark Plaza Athenee, but even our very own book “A vegetarian in Paris” (A Times group book publication) is being appreciated.This by the dapper Francois Delahaye who helms this landmark and the charming Isabelle Maurin. Ducasse’s “naturalness cuisine” with the help of his chef Romain Meder is not only healthier and more natural, more respectful of the Planet but it dazzles with flavour and taste. Therein lies its memorable magic.
Past forty days, I’ve been on a foodie pilgrimage: Lima to Mexico city for Latin America’s 50 best restaurant awards (as regional jury chairperson) to Los Angeles and now am concluding it (fittingly enough) in Paris. Here too, I’m dazzled by many a brand new arrival, like Alain Ducasse’s Ore in Palace Versailles, Yannick Alleno’s “extraction” technique. However, my homage to Michelin starred Eric Frechon continues unchanged. I’ve yet to eat food as impressive in its precision — and as gloriously wanton in its luxuriousness. I am an admirer of the intriguing ingredients Eric Frechon packs into one composition and coaxes into harmony, be it in his recently awarded starred Langham in London, 114 Faurbourg and three starred Epicure in Paris. It is here in this exquisite Parisian palace le Bristol that I’ve seen President Sarkozy dine (in fact he still comes here regularly for macaroni, artichoke, foie gras) Chef Eric Frechon has heads of state, royalty and glamour squad eating out of his hands and all of Paris is abuzz with his new book, the last word on French gastronomy.
Ooh la la! She continues to surprise and seduce. I refer to the worlds most beautiful city, the global gastronomique capital Paris. I’ve been in love with Paris, past three decades and each time I come away more dazzled than ever. Paris continues to serve up delicious surprises…here’s a snapshot of the latest to the greatest.
“Movable feast” is what The famous author, Ernest Hemingway called Paris, And The Bustronome, the luxury bus-restaurant redefines it, literally. I not only enjoyed the mutli-course gourmet wine-paired unch while gliding past the most beautiful monuments, but was blown away by the hitech “audiopen” (when you point it to the map it has a informative multilingual commentary on the monuments and landmarks). I raise a toast to the Eiffel tower as to this innovative Bustronome.
In the already world famous, magnificent Place Versailles, the UNESCO World Heritage classified, finest achievement of 18th century French art, two delicious surprises have been added on. The king of cuisine, the superstar chef Alain Ducasse opened his new restaurant Ore in the Place premises itself, opening onto the cour Royale.
A French inspired menu with classics, from light and quick snacks, desserts and gourmet pastries here.Plenty for vegetarians too. From the amazing vegetable tart to the light as a cloud soufflé. Chef Stéphane Duchiron dazzles. I not only walked through this shimmering iconic landmark, but also went to the brand new “Costumes et Chateaux” where Clementine has the most amazing period glowns and coats, jewellery, wigs and shoes and dressed me up in them for an amazing photoshoot. A fun and fabulous memory.
BRAND NEW CAMPUS
Ooh la la, the iconic, 120 year old custodian of the French culinary tradiiton, Le Cordon Bleu Paris moved into it’s beuatiful and high tech sprawling campus (with a rooftop garden et al). It was awesome to attend the high-powered inaugural, last week with more than 20 embassy heads attending it. Playing gracious hosts, the owners André Cointreau, Charles Cointreau along with maestro Chef Eric Briffard and Catherine Bascet invited guests to embark on a taste journey (and wow what an amazing feast it was).
DINNER AND CABARET
Immortalised by poets, authors and artists, Paris’ oldest and most flamboyant cabaret Moulin Rouge gets a brilliant new chef David Lequellec. Along with the dynamic Olivier Villalon, we feast on the two hour wine-paired gourmet dinner before the cabaret begins.
A TASTE OF HISTORY
Whoa! I’m not only getting a taste of the exquisite “De-light” cuisine but doing so in the historic room where film was born and the Lumiere brothers made their first presentation.Im in the brilliantly located and legendary Hotel Scribe Paris. It embodies the new Parisian hotel chic.”De-Light means maximum pleasure and minimum calories” explains the slim and lovely Beatrice Schopflin who helms this exquisite Paris landmark. It’s a joy to feast on gourmet cuisine, nutritionally-balanced and low-calorie according to the well-researched Quiberon principles. Chef Sebastien Crison ‘s cold beetroot soupEscabeche fish fillet, Patisseur Thimothée Gensse desserts are flamboyant works of art and flavor with a minimum of calories.
NOTE: Le Cordon Bleu and Hotel Scribe have shared their amazing recipes. Should you need them please mail me on firstname.lastname@example.org, instagram, twitter @rashmiudaysingh and I’l be happy to share them with you.
Inventive, flavorful, exciting. Whoa! I’m not only getting a taste of the exquisite “De-light” cuisine but doing so in the historic room where film was born. What you see in the photograph are the Lumiere brothers, who In 1895, having invented the first film projector, unveiled it to the public right here, where we are dining. ”De-Light means maximum pleasure and minimum calories” explains the slim and lovely Beatrice Schopflin who helms this exquisite Paris landmark dedicated to Eugène Scribe, the popular and prolific author of more than 400 plays. It’s a joy to feast on gourmet cuisine, nutritionally-balanced and low-calorie according to the well-researched Quiberon principles. Chef Sebastien Crison ‘s cold beetroot soup Escabeche fish fillet, Patisseur Thimothée Gensse desserts are flamboyant works of art and flavor with a minimum of calories.
P.S. Im feasting on Paris… from dining in Yannick Alleno’s three Michelin starred restaurant Ledoyan where modern French cuisine is being born, to unique dining and sightseeing in “Bustronome”. From the launch dinner of Le Cordon Bleu’s new campus to the Indian buffet atop the Eiffel tower to launch Ranveer Singh’s new Bollywood film’s trailer… but that’s another story!
It’s new. Its making waves. It serves healthy and light and yet is setting a global benchmark in luxury. I have a mind-blowing taste of this new Mediterranean dining experience In Paris. It is all about “harmonious cuisine from the heart” and this is served amid shimmering priceless Baccarat chandeliers, mirrors and Lalique crystal. Le George is located in the luxuriously elegant George V ( which partnered my book “A vegetarian in Paris…A Times of India publication). Here, the dynamic young Marco Garfagnini (got his first star at age 29) creates an amazingly balanced and healthy menu (plenty of vegetarian too). Not only am I over the moon with the dinner but also with forever fabulous Monica Eisen and Quentin Garreau de Labarre. This new Le George more than lives up to the royal legacy it has inherited, after all it is born to the iconic George V, the hotel of kings and the king of hotels.