TASTING TROPICAL PARADISE
I’m getting high. On tropical flavours, but even more on knowledge of the rare and the exotic. And the waltz of local Mauritian flavours with French gastronomique techniques orchestrated brilliantly by the young local Mauritian Chef Didier Jacob. But first, let me tell you all about how I lost my heart to the rare “heart of coconut palm” masterpiece.
OF HEARTS & RUBIES
I lost my heart to the rare coconut heart & to the brilliant young chef Didier Jacob who created a masterpiece from it. Then it is the ruby red jewel of slow cooked beetroot puree that dazzles. It is masterfully sparkled with orange spices the char grill beetroot kissed with star anise. Sonnets & symphonies of the finest of local Mauritianvegetables with classical frenchgastronomic finesse parade.
But first please take a look at the accompanying photograph with the long 60 kilo cylinder from a 15 year old coconut palm tree that the chefs are holding. It is then peeled open in front of us. It is delicious to taste raw and then Chef Didier seduces with the lightest crunchy Coconut Palm Heart tartare sparkled with turmeric and its Carpaccio with lime dressing.
Coconut palms are known typically for their coconuts.
You can eat and drink the nuts in various stages of development and they are all delicious.
However, did you know that you could harvest the heart from a coconut palm and eat it?
The heart of palm is located where the green leaves start to bud from the trunk.
Under the woody palm, leaf stem is a soft, white center.
Removing the heart from a coconut palm kills the tree.
Thankfully, after each purchase of a coconut heart they plant ten more trees.
After that heart of coconut palm course, we move on to the Pumpkin, a masterpiece of smoked nine moths aged Pumpkin, Confit Butter nuts, pumpkin puree with almondcrowned with crispy Spring onions roots The Green Asparagus Variation tantalises with with green apple, and it smoked Asparagus puree
The sweet finale painted on to the table of compressed fruit mascarponecream and more is fingerlicking good.
chef Didier’s years of globetrotting and working alongside starred. geniuses shines.through as he has evolved his unique expression of Mauritian cuisine with classical French influences.
LA BELLE CREOLE MARY
Inspired by the warm currents of the Indian Ocean, La Belle Creole Mary is an interpretation of the traditions of the tropical paradise. Signature touches such as aloe vera juice, coconut, evoke inspired memories of Mauritius. Derived from the Bloody Mary and Virgin Mary this cocktail and mocktail has a fascinating history. And Ive tasted it in all three of it’s birthplaces, Mauritius, New York and Paris (notes on those follow). Here’s how to shake the perfect
Mauritian, St Regis La Belle Creole Mary… INGREDIENTS
3 1/3 OZ / 100 ML fresh tomato juice
2 3/4 OZ/80 ML aloe vera juice
4 TSP/ 20 ML of Worcestershire sauce
4 drops of Tabasco sauce
1 1/2 OZ / 45 ML premium traditional rum (optional if you want a mocktail)
1 pinch celery salt
4 mint leaves
1 coconut curl
8-10 coconut flakes, for garnish
1 slice of lime, for garnish
1 sprig of mint. for garnish
Put the tomato and aloe vera juices and rum (if you choose to). Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces, celery salt and mint leaves into a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir with a mixing spoon for I0 seconds. Strain into a stemless red wine glass and add crushed ice. Place the coconut curl on top. Garnish with the coconut flakes, slice of lime and sprig of mint.
In New York, I zoom in on the timeless yet contemporary, over a century old King Cole bar at St Regis.
Originally founded by John Jacob Astor over a century ago, it is this
magnificent landmark where hotel history was made. The center of Manhattan social life.
not only did St Regis make history with all newsworthy and
path-breaking conveniences (telephone, central heating) but is even credited with the
invention of one of the worlds most famous cocktails the “Bloody Mary”.
It was way back in 1934, Fernand Petiot, bartender at the famous King
Cole Bar, perfected the Bloody Mary-
the iconic vodka and tomato juice cocktail so beloved today. The famed
cocktail was created when Serge Obolensky, a well known man about town
whose penchant for vodka was in keeping with his
aristocratic Russian background, asked Petiot to make the vodka
cocktail he had in Paris. The formula was spiced up with salt, pepper,
lemon and Worcestershire Sauce, Interestingly, the name Bloody Mary
was deemed inappropriate for the elegant clientele of The St. Regis,
it was rechristened the Red Snapper.
This ain’t a bowl of mere fermented vegetables. It’s Kimchi. It’s magical. It’s origin is centuries old. But it was sent to space on board Soyuz with South-Korean astronaut Yi So yeon.
It was declared ” vitally important to the morale of Korean troops” (President Park Chung Hee).It’s been cited by Health Magazine as one of the world’s five “healthiest foods” and it dates back to the period of the Three Kingdoms (37 BC‒7 AD.
Till today, it’s a very central part of the Korean meal. It is served as “Banchan” a collective name for small side dishes served along with cooked rice.
On my very first trip to Korea, I’m fortunate to not only taste kimchi in the finest three Michelin starred Korean cuisine restaurant but also blessed to get a taste of “vegan” kimchi in a monastic meal ritual cooked by a monk in the mountains. And finally actually got to make the kimchi myself, in the finest kimchi making class of Korea…with Master Lee and two other brilliant chefs.
IN KOREAS BEST RESTAURANT
I’m on top of the world. In every sense of the term. I’m dining in three Michelin starred Layeon perched on the rooftop of Shilla Seoul, the luxury powerhouse.
The gracious and stately Shilla stands behind Seoul’s medieval city walls but continues to reign supreme. La Yeon interprets Korean cuisine with great care and sophistication. Balanced flavors and textures explode …from mellow flavors of Pinenut porridge to the perfect Bulgogi and bibimbap with banchan and the most addictive umami rich kimchi.
I’m not just feasting on the brilliant Chef Sung il Kim’s refined and sublime Korean food but also learning about the basics and evolution of Korean food. Translating for me is the everhelpful Yaeeji Kim.Highest quality ingredients, authentic flavors and creativity infuse the dishes… from mellow and soothing to royal-cuisine Hot Pot here.
BLISSED TEMPLE MEAL
I m in heaven and didn’t even have to die to get here… Just drove four hours in snow to reach the beautiful Naejang mountains. Can spiritual vegetarian meditative monk s food be so seductively gourmet and varied? It sure is I’m Tasting blessings… literally too. All this at the fabulous formal multicourse monastic meal ceremony (barugongyang) The lovable loving and friendly monk.
At Cheongjinam Temple. We sit on the floor with empty bowls baru in front of us. And as if by magic the silent servers glide in and fill them up. Making food and partaking in it is part of the meditative process in the temple and here, they eat only what they farm and make on site. Amazingly gentle and vibrant flavors and textures seduce . We wash the dishes after the meal with the water in each bowl and walk out in a single file.
We move in to the dining area and our eyes and taste buds are luxuriously memorably pampered. After that lunch, monk Jung Kwan takes us on a fascinating walk to see her storage facilities where her “jangs”, sauces and kimchi are being fermented. Since garlic, onions are not used it is these fermented pastes that add a zing to her vegetarian masterpieces.
lovable inspirational monk for delicious blessings which we tasted too. If this isn’t heaven what is?
Note: A unique and blissed out treat. And to be lunching with Koreas finest gourmet chefs, Mingoo Kang ( chef Michelinstarred Mingles)
Hyunseok Choi (chef of ever popular Choi)
Jinpyo Kim, CEO Plating Company
All this made possible thanks to the lovely Editor in chief of Tasty Cookbook,Eunsil Jang.
KIMCHI MAKING CLASS
Its a dream come true. Not only to learn kimchi making from Master Soyoung lee,but to do so with my own hands and then to have the privilege of a home-cooked lunch by her. Kimchi making is done in winter (when the ingredients are available) and its all about bonding and a wonderful family feeling as we chop the vegetables and massage the spices into them. All this with Chef Choi who’s doing pathbreaking research in fermenting and Chef Heesuk Cho a professor in Korean cuisine. Not only have most of the great Korean chefs trained under her but her restaurant (I had an amazing meal here) continues to inspire many others.
It’s all thanks to the super helpful and amazing JungYoon Choi, a chef with 20 years of experience working in Spain, Australia and Korea. Trained at Alicia Foundation and El Bulli and is now executive chef of the Sempio Korean Fermentation Culinary Research Center in Korea. with top chefs and gastronomy-related professionals to research on Korea’s fermentation food culture. She very generously shares the authentic recipe for the kimchi.
– Coarse Salt 7cups
– Chives 200g (Cut 4cm)
– Leeks 200g(Cut diagonally)
– Red Brassica juncea 100g (Cut 3cm)
– Chopped raw shrimps 100g
– Chopped Sea staghorn 100g
– Radish 2kg (Cut 5cm)
– Crushed Chili pepper 6cups
– Chopped Garlic 1 1/2 cups
– Chopped Ginger 1/2 cups
– Salted shrimps 1cups
– Anchovy liqueur 1cups
– Sugar 1/2cups
– Coarse Salt 1/2 cups
- Mixed all the spices and ingredients. (Let this ripen for 30 minutes.)
- Rinse pickled cabbage in cold water to remove moisture.
- Ready to the seasonings between the prepared cabbage.
- Store prepared Kimchi in a container.
The best tasting kimchi is stored in room temperature for an average of six months to reach its full flavor.
After that delicious home style lunch, we all get the fabulous kimchi to take home. As Choi says “my mother will be thrilled with this kimchi, for her and all of us, it is more valuable to receive this than an Italian designer handbag” That’s how magical kimchi is!!!
It’s been my lifelong quest…to find the secret of how to to dine non-stop gourmet and yet stay healthy. To continue to enjoy all tastes and flavours, to be able to digest it all and then go back for more. I wrote a weekly health column for a national daily for fifteen years. Produced, scripted, directed, presented 52 episodes of a health show on TV and through it all spent lots of time with doctors, specialists, ayurvedacharyas, nutritionists and more. And it was a common consensus, the source of health and energy was the digestive system. And to keep this system working in top form, it was essential to eat healthy (of course) but also to have probiotics. Not too fond of popping pills (even if they are probiotics in a pill) I was thrilled to find the answer. Right here. In Chennai. A home-made solution…Read on to know more
DID YOU KNOW?
Of course, we all know about probiotics and how essential they are to supply the much needed good bacteria into the system. But did you know…?
They have positive effects on the body like improving immunity, detoxifying the system, reducing inflammation, improving digestion, and providing the body with bio- available nutrients, vitamins and enzymes? Energy improves, stress, joint pains, allergies reduce?
Did you know that probiotics are found in delicious edible drinkable forms?
Ginger ale, Kombucha, Milk Kefir, Beet Kvass, Sauerkraut, Korean Kimchi, Hummus to name some.
And here’s the good news, these yummies are being made at home, right here in Chennai by the entrepreneurial Abha Appasamy “I started this for our own family to keep them in good health and we found that we were not catching colds and infections as long as we were taking them”. She explains.
that ginger ale is her latest and most popular product, and has had dramatic effects on some of her friends’ digestive issues. It is fermented with the natural bacteria present in organic ginger.
Abha’s Probiotics includes traditional fermented foods and drinks that have originated in countries around the world and
She personally make all the products and bottle them too to ensure high quality and food safety.
She ensures that all her products are 100% vegetarian and vegan (except for milk kefir.. )Natural, with no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.
and made from organic ingredients bought from reliable sources ( not exposed to chemical fertilizers, pesticides or hormones.)
All packaged in eco-friendly, recyclable glass bottles too.
Lets raise a toast with a glass of probiotic ginger ale!
email@example.com WhatsApp: 9962575684
If you love to munch and snack…but feel the need to do so healthily then Pratima Manikandan’s ingenious bars and crackers are the answer, as her quinoa Digestive Biscuits and Naan Khatai.
Go for the energy bars, made of natural sugars with a low glycemic index… made of seeds, nuts and dryfruits.
Energy Bars made of Millet and walnut seeds, nuts, berries, millets and natural sugars to bring together a nutritious snack on the go. Ask for Millet and Orange,
Vanilla and cinnamon flavors. All sweetened with the super healthy dates.
I love biting into the wafer thin, savory seed crackers made entirely of seeds and nuts.
That theyre a powerhouse of Omega 3 and 6 is a bonus.
Naan Khatai, made of wheat flour and brown sugar make them extra healthy and thankfully extra yummy too. Quinoa Digestive Biscuits- Packed with the essential amino acids are a must try.
A-218, Bhaggyam Urban Ville,
Industrial Estate Road,
ph: 7358306633/044 48536641
WHATSHOT HOME-BAKER TASTING SESSIONS
I maybe traveling the world but I always circle back to Chennai. Ive been flying in from Mumbai and setting up “whats hot tasting sessions” past 15 years. And with each session I get even more impressed
Infact, in EACH AND EVERY COLUMN there is a local “Foodline” with the latest on Chennai’s home catering and baking as my Chennai based assistant Anjali keeps a tab and has been doing so for over 15 years. We held the last one in ITC Grand Chola , which is where I tasted the probiotics and seedcrackers made by Abha and Prathima. Should you wish to take part in the next whatshot tasting session please mail firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
WAITER, THERE’S A COLA IN MY FOOD
Unusual! Unique! First time ever! I taste a dish cooked in a cola. It has a strangely uplifting and cheering effect…much like the internationally renowned song “waka waka” (sung by the Colombian Shakira). This dish is her favorite…as is mine. It has a memorable deliciousness that ricochets on my taste buds, pampers my senses and stays in my memory forever. And the interesting part is that it is not a funky, innovation or modern fusion dish, it’s a traditional South American dish from Colombia’s beautiful, ancient walled city of Cartagena. And I taste it in the stunningly beautiful Legend of Santa Clara. It dates back to 1621 when it was a convent. Even now, every evening, there is the candle lighting ceremony done by the monks. Here history, lives and breathes and then dapper Richard Launay who helms this landmark ensures that along with high-tech all traditions are preserved. Nobel prize winning author Garcia Marquez has written an award winning book on the Legend of St Clara. Not only does the brilliant chef Dominique Oudin cook up this dish but also shares the recipe with me. And it’s only on checking around and doing my research that I find out that many a president, royalty, Bill Gates and even the internationally renowned singer Shakira (shot into fame with Waka Waka) is not only a Colombian but also a regular at Legend of Santa Clara and this dish along with Arripas huevos (egg in a corn batter) is a favourite of hers.
It has a long name and it s a dish composed of beef (cooked in a cola) plaintain and coconut rice. It has a masterful balance of flavours (savory and a kiss of sweet).
Posta negra Cartagenera, con platano en tentación y arroz de coco
“Cartagenian style beef with Temptation plantain and coconut rice”.
1.5 kg beef
350 g white onion
350 g carrot
1 clove garlic
5 branches of thyme
20 whole pepper
1 stick cinnamon
580g brown sugar
3 Lts water
20 ml vegetable oil
Take the beef meat, and clean it. Put half of the salt. Clean the vegetables and cut them in thick cubes.
In a frying pan, heat up the oil and seared the meat on all sides. Clean the pan with coke and add all the ingredients and the water.
Cook slowly for about 3 hours according the size of the meat.
Remove the beef. Sift the sauce and verify the flavors.
PLATANO EN TENTACIÓN
“ Temptation plantain”
6 ripped plantain
450ml Sweet cola (our icecream soda)
1 stick whole cinammon
10 Ud cloves
Remove the skin from the plantain and cut it in 4 pieces.
In a bowl add all the ingredients, and put the plantain in the mix.
In a sauce pan cook the plantains with the mix and let it cook in low until you get a caramel liquid.
Arroz de coco
I have the coconut rice recipe with me, should you need it please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Cut the beef in thin slices and wash with hot sauce.
Serve with coconut rice and ”temptation plantain”.
As much as I trip out on the traditional beef stew (recipe above) I could with equal joy write poems to avocado weds mango to black garlic weds beef and treetomato weds langoustine.All in Colombia finest legend SantaClara s 1621. And that too by brilliant 27 year young chef Andres Segura .
Brilliant marriage of Avocado with the fresh tartness of green mango in a crazily addictive Cold avocado and ginger soup with Sousvide Lobster tail. The degustation dinner of modern Colombian cuisine dazzles.
FRUITS OF LEARNING
My learning continues the next morning over the legendary breakfast… where chef Oudin escorts me through the authentic Colombian street food stalls… I even watch each dish being made. From the most popular
“patacon” plantain deep fried,
“Arripa de huevo” egg in a corn batter to the superb, freshly brewed Colombian coffee.
And through it all the colorful
“palanquera” in her traditional dress sparkles the breakfast room. The palanqueras are the traditional fruit sellers. So I bite into the juiciest freshest fruit and keep learning too. Having my fruit and eating it too!!!
I’ve done it again and again. In the gourmet capitals of the world…Paris, London, Tokyo, New York. Tasted the emblematic dish of the seventeen Michelin starred maestro Alain Ducasse’s culinary philosophy. A symbol of “sincere cuisine”– a harmony of flavors– that is both respectful to the environment and to health. And that too in restaurants located in the world’s most legendary hotels. I refer to the cookpot…Alain Ducasse’s world renowned signature dish He serves up seasonal vegetables from the local terroir cooked in the cookpot. And this seemingly simple pot is used from the stove to the table.
It’s truly a “sensual” dish with an aesthetic that cradles and caresses the food. It’s almost feminine and womb like and Ducasse’s inspiration for it is from his grandmother. “We must restart from the beginning, where the true tastes are […] the technique here is to reveal the flavour of nature,” announced this maestro many years ago. And this simply superb and superbly simple dish has a basic recipe which is the same across all of Ducasse’s restaurants, with the mushroom duxelle and at least seven local, seasonal vegetables. The pot itself is a design masterpiece that is contemporary and nostalgic ( created by Pierre Tachon it owes it’s attractive curves and perfect proportions to porcelain manufacturer Pillivuyt)
Over the years I’ve been getting high on the cookpot in Ducasse’s restaurants around the world.
Be it London’s Dorchester, Paris’s Plaza Athenee, these finest of all hotels are reputed for infusing into their essence the glamour, excitement, and creativity of the people who have been regulars here.
Today I share with you my most recent taste of this dish in three memorable venues.
PARIS :LUXURIOUS VEGETARIAN WOWS
Please take a look at the photograph, shot in the gleaming kitchen of Paris’ most stylish address Plaza Athenee, which serves up the best of the best. Including Alain Ducasse’s shimmering temple to gastronomy which has the gardener’s name on the menu and serves only vegetables, grain and fish. Luxury drips in 10,000 Swarovski pendant-like chandeliers and it is here that I’ve had the most fabulous meals coddled by immaculate service and brilliant attention to detail.
On this recent trip I not only had the most exceptional was fixated on Ducasse’s brand new book on vegetarian cooking (which the gifted Chef Romain Meder is holding along with the dynamic chief of the Dorchester group Francois Delahaye).
GOD HAS COME TO LONDON…Dorchester
“God has come to London” swooned critics when Ducasse set up in London’s legendary landmark The Dorchester. I’d first dined at Ducasse’s newly opened restaurant and went back several times again. Here reality is more luxurious than fantasy. Amid the cloud, surrounded by a luminiscient oval curtain, Id gotten high on the classic French-driven menu I still remember the tastes and textures of the “delicate soft Royale of greens” a glorious medley of vegetables with an ever enlarging circle of freshness. And of course that cookpot, heady and perfect.And I still marvel at how the grand hotel continues to tango with high octane young energy.
BREAKING NEWS…On the River Seine
Its making international waves. It’s an unrivalled Parisian experience. And its has just been launched. It’s a floating masterpiece of Paris history and landmarks. It’s been overbooked since it opened and it took planning ahead to get a table here.
I’m on board the brand new super luxurious restaurant “Ducasse sur seinne” that has just opened and is making international waves. As the Eiffel tower sparkles on the hour of eight, Captain Ulysee Boar and Ines Ioudidi flag off our luxurious meal. Luxurious dining gets redefined. Sailing & Feasting on Parisian landmarks and emblematic French food too. Serenditpitiously we are sailing past my favorite Alexanders bridge when my favorite vegetarian Cookpot is served up. The specially-created, single-serving cocotte, delicious with spelt and violet artichokes is memorable. All created in the bespoke kitchens which sprawl on the lower deck Champagne sparkled the beginning of the dinner. And a parade of dishes sashay in as the silent electric boat glides to music. The meal meanders from the delicate Foie gras pâté to the Chocolate crispy praline accompanied by the finest wines, a symphony of the best French Crus. All this amid lighting by Franck Franjoy from lunar cold to candle warm, a coddling of music and sound and uberfab interiors. And ooh! that cookpot…and yes! the maestro has very generously shared the recipe with me, should you need it, please do mail email@example.com
Please take a look at the photograph, shot with France’s most revered Michelin-starred maestro Alain Ducasse in his iconic restaurant’s gleaming kitchen. The focus is their brand new book on vegetarian cooking which the gifted Chef Romain Meder is holding. When I researched and wrote the Worlds first vegetarian guide to Paris (published by The Times of India) this gleaming glittering Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee took center stage. It has the gardener’s name on the menu and serves only vegetables, grain and fish. Aptly ensconced in Paris’ most stylish address Plaza Athenee, it continues to offer the best of the best. Including the most luxurious breakfast in the French capital, which is what the dynamic chief of the Dorchester group Francois Delahaye, St Petersburg’s brilliant restaurateur and ballerina Matilda Shnurova and I were luxuriating in when we got to know that Alain Ducasse was in the kitchen. He is unstoppable, his brand new restaurant in a super luxurious electric boat was even more exciting than dining on the Eiffel tower. But that’s another story!
LEGENDARY HOLLYWOOD FLAVORS
He’s a living legend. Not only does he have his own star of fame…in Hollywoods walk of fame, but for over three decades has had all of Hollywood eating out of his hands (literally too). Over a hundred restaurants in five continents cookbook author celebrity chef and official caterer for the Academy Awards blazed the trend for its gourmet pizzas topped with caviar and smoked salmon. He’s starred in movies (as himself) and yet the revered legend Chef Wolfgang Puck remains down to earth and charming. To spend time with the legend in the Belair, Los Angeles, the world’s most famous Hollywood hideaway is amazing. To watch him feed the long necked swans that glide in the swan lake and then to lunch on his masterpieces in his renowned restaurant is to get a true taste of legend. This serene 12 acre lush paradise ( the serene, gleaming swan lake et al) is actually at the heart of cacophonic, bustling Los Angeles. It is in these stunningly beautiful serene surroundings styled
as private residences, an amazing Californian oasis of relaxation and indulgence which is the
secret Paradise of superstars
It nestles in the canyons of Los Angeles. And how I love that Swan Lake.Four beautiful white swans call the lake home, and together they embody the romance, grace and elegance of Hotel Bel-Air.
The glamorous charm reminiscent of Hollywood’s Golden Age is palpable here. It is here that Hollywood’s history lives and breathes. Any wonder that it has been Hollywoods most beloved hideaway? Legends like Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, Liz Taylor stayed and dined here regularly.
It is this very exclusivity and tranquility that continues to magnetise the likes of Julia Roberts, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and many other Hollywood notables. As the lovely. Denise Flanders points out “The emotional attachment that so many have for Hotel Bel-Air is so very special.” I love the way it is steeped in cultural history, defines historical moments and highlights the Dorchester group’s stylish heritage, not just with fascinating historical anecdotes but exceptional service and food. Memorable!
MARILYN MONROE TOMATO SALAD
Here’s the refreshingly beautiful taste of the tomato salad, so beloved of the beautiful legendary Marilyn Monroe, who lived and dined here.
2 each Red Beef ( big) Tomatoes
4 each Figs
3 each Cherry Tomatoes (variety colors)
3 Tbsp Olive Oil ( Marilyn liked her olive oil)
1 Tbsp Basil Oil
1 Tbsp 18 year aged balsamic vinegar
4 oz of Italian Rich Fresh Buratta cheese
6 each flowers of Micro Basil
To taste Salt Large Flake
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
Method: This dish looks like a mosaic or painting in the summer .The colors are beautiful just like its celebrity inspiration. Thick cut tomatoes just like Marilyn preferred, figs, buratta all un marinated and carefully layed out to fit like a perfectly aligned painting on the plate. Dress the salad with the 2 olive oils, balsamic vinegar. Lastly season the tomatoes with the salt and black pepper and finish with the micro basil over the top. By dressing everything on the plate you lose no flavor from a separate seasoning and the tomatoes will release there delicious juices from the salt directly onto your plate.
That’s the explanation of his creation given by WolfGang Puck’s brilliant Executive chef Hugo Bolanos.
As a veteran team member of the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group (having worked at Michelin starred CUT, world-renowned Michelin starred flagship Spago including Wolfgang Puck catering) Hugo Bolanos delivers masterpieces in taste and textures. He has worked with the worlds greatest chefs (from Ducasse in Paris to Daniel in NYC).and today he continues to weave drama in Puck’s award winning restaurant in Belair.
It is here too that I taste Wolfgang Puck’s delicious classics, from the Weiner Schnitzel to the vegetarian pumpkin baked in salt and his famous vegetable soup. Should you need the recipe please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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.