Restaurant Review

ENROUTE MAGICAL MACHU PICCHU

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super luxury dining on the train with Andy Montufar and chef Orozco

Am I in a glamorous 1920s Hollywood movie train? Or an Agatha Christie thriller? Dining on gourmet food in this plush, gleaming dining car in the uber luxurious Belmond Hiram Bingham train by Orient Express, is a dream come true. Its speeding me through breathtakingly beautiful everchanging Peruvian Andean landscapes to the mystical Machu Picchu. Im sure you’ll agree with me, that food gets infused with a magical quality when we dine on a moving train. Add to that gourmet food (cooked in the state of the art kitchens in the train, vegetarian options too),finest of wines, immaculate service, white linen, petit fours, freshly brewed espresso and Im in heaven. A well-stocked bar, live music and Pisco sour lesson complete my joy. Almost. Meeting the gallant Andy Montufar Oquendo and Orozco the chef on board who conjures chef William Paniagua recipes magnifies my joy. A fittingly memorable, delicious, journey to one of the new seven wonders of the world. It’s a wonder in itself too.

P.S. The train is named after Hiram Bingham, the American explorer who discovered Machu Picchu in 1911.

My Paradise Peru

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Dining at the most Romantic South American resort, with Thomas Moons and Tula Casteneda.

I write from foodie Paradise.  And what a magnificent gigantic one.  From the frozen peaks of the Andes to the roaring Pacific ocean, the deepest jungles of the Amazon, sand dunes, ancient Inca civilizations, Machu Picchu and the bustling gastronomic capital of Lima. Each region produces a staggering wealth of produce, vegetables, fruit, herbs, grains…you name it. And this great geographic and cultural diversity has brought ingredients ranging from highland tubers to tropical jungle fruits to a complex cuisine of Spanish, indigenous, African and Asian influence. For sure this vast country translates to paradise for us foodies. Ceviche with slivers of fiery chili and corn, slow-simmered stews, velvety Amazonian chocolate. I explore the bounty of food markets, sample grilled anticuchos (beef skewers) on the street corners  and (thanks to my co-chairperson of the Worlds 50 Best Restaurant Academy,   Diego Salazar) dine at the finest restaurants of Lima. But most excitingly, I check out Peru for Vegetarians (ably guided by Maria Jose, Sabrina Chaves, Elda Cantu) It’s a deliciously gourmet Vegetarian paradise too.

FROM LIMA TO THE SACRED VALLEY

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Lunching in the Sacred Valley with Chef Cesare Landau and Cesare Chiara

Please take a look at the accompanying photograph shot in the  globally awarded “Most Romantic resort of South America”. Im feasting not just on the superb Peruvian food but also on the stunning views. Dining on this luxurious rooftop with the glorious coastline of the Pacific ocean below,  is one of the many  memorable experiences that Belmond Miraflores Park serves up.  Helming it is the dynamic Thomas Moons with global experience and training as a chef too.  Lima born Tula Castaneda delights with her knowledge of  Peruvian cuisine. I lunch with them at their renowned  Tragaluz restaurant, chef Jean Paul Barbier’s quinoa tabouleh with  beetroot, mushrooms, watercress, makes a masterpiece out of potatoes with the Peruvian Yellow chilli,porcon mushrooms with truffle sauce and more. August Baert’s Tragaluz delights. Not only is the finest Peruvian chocolate used here, but their superb spa gives me a Chocolate massage too. This is definitely my idea of having my chocolate and eating it too.

In the Sacred valley ( an hour’s flight away from the bustling city of Lima) nature preens in all her magnificence. And it is here in the Belmond Rio Segredo,  that I lunch by the shimmering River Urubamba with the brilliant chef Cesar Landau. In the mellow sunshine of the Sacred valley, Chef Cesar’s creative cuisine with Peruvian ingredients delights, be it the tomato tree with water melon gazpacho, vegetarian ceviche with asparagus, mushroom and seaweed from the lake or the quinoa risotto.

I also get a superb Pisco tasting session from the knowledgable Cesar Chiara.

This award winning national drink is the purest brandy, and from the 8 grapes, two types of Piscos (aromatic and non aromatic)are made. I learn all about that famous  lemon, sugar and white of egg based cocktail Pisco sour. All this in the beautiful glassed in bar and restaurant overlooking the stunning gardens of the Rio Segredo. Close by the salt mines of Maras produce the delicious Maras salt from the ancient  times of the Incas. I can taste this vibrant salt in all my food and when it is used as a scrub in the Willka spa, it revitalizes me and Im ready to feast on Rio Segredo’s banquet again.

QUINOA RISOTTO

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Veggie Peru on a plate: Quinoa and avocado in the sacred valley’s Rio Segredo.

Here’s Chef Cesar Landau’s recipe . A delicious creamy way to  cook  the healthy, protein rich, gluten free quinoa. You can add or omit the vegetables.

Ingredients:

70 gr quinoa/40 gr mushrooms/20 gr zucchini

50 gr cream of milk/30 ml broth of vegetables/ 30 gr parmesan cheese/

2 gr chopped garlic/3 spears of asparagus/ 1  cherry tomato/

20 ml olive oil/5 ml truffle oil/Salt

Black pepper

Method

Boil water with rosemary in a pan. When the water is boiling add the quinoa. Cook for 20 minutes. Rinse the quinoa and let cool

In a frying pan, add olive oil, garlic and let cook till garlic turns golden. Then add the mushrooms, the zucchini and sauté. Then add the quinoa and the cream and let it reduce.

At the end check the salt and the parmesan cheese.Before serving, drizzle with  truffle oil.Grill the asparagus and served on  top.

Review: The Village Shop

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I cant stop smiling. Thrice as nice. That’s how I feel as I write this review. “The Village shop” (TVS) is a charming family run café (I have a big fat soft corner for family-runs and the home spun quality of their food).

Read my detailed review on http://www.whatshot.in/critic-review/the-village-shop-r-9397

NEW, NEWER, NEWEST

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Exciting times. I continue to research (read eat) my way for our very own Times Food Guide. I eat at Kala Ghoda’s brand new modern Indian “Hitchki”, and get to know about meatilicious “Boston Butt” there from Micky and Jay Dalal. From dining at well-know TV chefs (Vicky  Ratnani’s The Korner House and Jamie Oliver’s Pizzeria) to “Ministry of Salads” in Warden Road, BAD café in Bandra , Goila’s butter chicken in Andheri and a rocking night out at “Play the lounge” I do it all. Chef Himanshu Taneja of JW Marriott’s superb Pan Asian Dashanzi to Mahindra’s healthful “Saboro” in Churchgate. I dine in Iconic old retaurants which have got new chefs ( Chef Francesco Francavilla delights in Vetro as do Chef Rohit Chadha and his expat chefs in Golden Dragan, Yet to dine at Chef Xi Xi Ling’s Mekong) Chef Alessandro Persico’s Celini is as good as ever. I check out Udippan Chakravorty, Ananda Solomon’s successor’s  “Thai Pavilion” and “Trattoria”. As a policy I do not accept preview invites and dine only after the restaurant has opened to the public. There are several such, about-to-open, including Aditi Dugar, chef Pratik Sidhu’s “Masque” (Mahalaxmi) which has interiors by Ashiesh Shah and has  been making waves even before opening. Exciting times ahead.

P.S. A REQUEST Should you  have dined at any brand new restaurants, please do share with me (Instagram, twitter @rashmiudaysingh, emailrashmiudaysingh2017@gmail.com)

Srilanka Surprises

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Maestro Dharshan Munidasa at his Ministry of Crab.

What you see in the photograph is the two kilo “crabzilla” at maestro chef   Dharshan Munidasa’s  world renowned “Ministry of crab” Its on the prestigious “Asias 50 best restaurants” list as is his Japanese “Nihon Bashi”.  He has  single handedly putting Srilanka, the beautiful, tiny island on the world gourmet map.

His modern Srilankan “Kaema Sutra” delights. And it’s his commitment to the  finest, freshest ingredients and  “No freezer restaurants” that is admirable.

Review: Farzi Cafe

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We’re rejoicing! Is Fun getting Farzi-fied? Or Farzi getting fun-fied? Is Indian food getting a global makeover or is it the other way round? Whichever way you look at it Farzi, Zorawar Kalra’s high-energy Modern Indian bistro is magnetising a huge number of fans…Gurgaon, Dubai, Bangalore, New Delhi and Mumbai.

Read my detailed review on http://www.whatshot.in/mumbai

 

My shamiana love affair

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MY HANDSOME NEW LOVE…SHAMIANA

I fell in love with Shamiana,  the colorful rockstar, and I vividly remember that evening. It was my very first day in  romantic rainy, beautiful Bombay, 14th July 1974. And on that day itself, Shamiana was the very first restaurant I dined in.  Having majored in Literature honors in Delhi university, I had come to Bombay to study journalism and train under Patanjali Sethi in The Times of India. I ate at Shamiana regularly. I returned to Delhi. Only to come back in 1980 ( as Income tax commissioner) and once again thanks to my mother in law Mohini Bhullar, editorial director of the only city magazine, sipped and supped here regularly.. Celebrated many a sentimental occasion here. From 2000 onwards, moaned and criticized  it’s decor and food and relocating to the pool side location. But now, Shamiana  is back to where my love affair started….and  I am rejoicing!

Review: Shamiana

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Whoa! It’s the reincarnation of nostalgia. Its no mere revamp of menu, decor and relocation of The Taj Mahal Palace hotel’s 24 hour dining restaurant. Shamiana, India’s first ever coffee shop opened it’s doors in 1973 and was fiercely beloved and constantly mobbed.

Read my detailed Review on http://www.whatshot.in/critic-review/shamiana-r-6182