Review

Review: Play The Lounge

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“Eat-Play-Booze” seems to be the mantra of this new, high-octane, Lower Parel  lounge. Im a dedicated foodie, but I’m not fit enough to review this young, rocking space where food is not the prime mover. So, I invite my young  friends who are  fit (in every meaning of the term) to do so.

Read my detailed review on http://www.whatshot.in/critic-review/play-the-lounge-r-9412

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)

Whats Hot Tasting Session

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Talent Unlimited: L to R – Varun Ahuja and Anuj Bagri, Bharti and Bhavna Kumar, Mani Vinaik, Mugdha Agnihortri, Geetha Shridhar, Amna Shehzad Furniturewala, Mrudula Putchahas, AN Malhotra (centre) Radhika Ichhpuniani, Baijul Rathod.

Please excuse me if I’m getting carried away. I can’t contain my excitement at discovering Mumbai’s talented home chefs.  And this #Whatshottastingsession is organised specifically for our very own “Times Food guide 2017” which is being readied for  going to press.  On a rained out evening, we meet (fittingly enough) at the city’s landmark, iconic sixty year old Gaylord and the ever gracious AN Malhotra  plays host to Mumbai’s most talented taste-magicians. I’m grateful to the ever helpful team at Gaylord and also to the home chefs who’ve come all the way from Thane, Ghatkopar, Mulund, Mira Road…Im so happy. Cant stop smiling.

Breakfast & Bites | Worli | 9821086711

Looking for healthful and yummy fare? Call Mother-daughter team of Bharti and Bhavna Kumar. Crunchy and nutty bowl of muesli, Honey Nut Granola and Savory Oat Crisps (Matri), yummy trail mixes and Oatmeal Cookies, too.

Amshefs Gourmet | Bandra(W) | 9820769788

Party time? How about  a variety of sinful dessert dips like Cookie dough dip, Nutella Caramel Cheesecake dip and more ? .yum Golden Addictive hotseller (roasted almond n caramel popcorn clusters with a hint of salted caramel)? Amna Shehzad Furniturewala makes all this and more.

Through The Food Door | Thane | 9987090418

Mani Vinaik’s ‘Chocolaticious’ Brownies, boozy bakes and coloured ganache have a fan following. Try her decadent Cream Cheese Pound Cake. This  expert at catering for kiddie parties; is also known for themed cupcakes and Lasagne.

Rainbow Rasoi | Powai | 9892098240

Radhika Ichhpuniani (A highly qualified CA  turned chef)  takes catering orders from her FSSAI certified home kitchen and dishes up delicious vegetarian Italian, Mexican and Indian fare. Mini Pizza Uthapams and Mexican rice are a must-try!

IndiKitchen | Mahalakshmi | 7045313491

This food delivery service  by youngsters from the corporate world ( Alok Shah, Chirag Arya, Varun Ahuja and Anuj Bagri) serves it all…  Breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. Try the Biryani, Chicken Kalimiti and the range of Wow Paws.

Cup-a-Luscious | Mulund(W) | 9833042828

Eggless delights: Chocolate Strawberry Dessert Jars, Pushpops, and customized cupcakes with fondant. Blueberry cupcake takes the cake! Baijul Rathod 26-year-old freelance architect take a bow.

The Humble Pie | Ghaktopar(W) | 9880069696

A network engineer turned pastry chef, MrudulaPutchahas adiploma in patisserie from Lavonne Academy of Pastry Arts. Pies, Tarts, Cookies, Brownies, Cakes and Cupcakes, she does them all. My favourite: Sticky Toffee Pudding in a dessert jar.

Indian Food Express | Sion (E) | 9969134995

Found. Home made and fabulous  my favorite Mulgapudi Gunpowder, Sambar Powder, Rassam Powder and the softest idlis. A teacher, marathon runner and social entrepreneur,Geetha Shridhar  has been featured in many cookery shows for her famed BisiBele Bhath.

The Hungry Momma | Mira Road | 9820502049

CallMugdhaAgnihortri for catering orders for Kiddie Parties and house gatherings. Dhansak, Indian Street Food, ChingriMalai Curry, DaalPakwan, dips, and fish pickle. Brownies, muffins, cupcakes to mousse and  Jar Desserts.

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