MY FLAVORITE KING & QUEEN
I write from the homes of my favorite and flavorite King and Queen. It is in these two exquisite Royal destinations that I get my first ever taste of two most delicious flavors. That King Alfonso XIII was Queen Maria Cristina’s son, that both set up almost a century old hotels named after themselves is fabulous enough. That both these palaces retain that gracious, royal touch and food to match is what makes the magic happen. They serve only the best of the best.
Its the best of the best. I’m excited to do a hands-on cooking session at the award winning globally acclaimed Mimo cooking school.
Today, I serve you the finest, most rare, little gems of green peas. They’re tiny, seriously tiny and explode with sweetness in my mouth. Rightfully called “green caviar” these peas are also called “tear peas” “guisante lágrima”. Highly prized that, once it is shelled, its value reaches around 200 euros a kilogram. Covered with a thin and fibrous delicate skin, which creates the sensation of an “explosion” in the mouth when I bite into the pea, it’s skin bursts and the sap and sugars are released. It grows in Spain only for a couple of months a year and I’m blessed to be here just at that right time.It’s delicious even raw, but gains flavor when it is slightly steamed or grilled.
I learn how to cook it in the Mimo cooking school is located in the gourmet capital city of Spain San Sebastian. Attached to over a century old iconic palace Maria Cristina beloved of the Royalty Hollywood superstars et al. Here, Chef Jesus Cabellaro and chef Daniel Luque cook up amazing versions of the same “tear peas”
This super glamorous palace hotel combines luxury and high-tech and this outstanding cooking school too. At the handsome, gleaming, well-equipped cooking school, Chef Patricio Fuentes helps me wear my chefs coat and voila it’s time for a hands on cooking session. Sportingly, joining us is the dapper dynamo Ned Capeleris who helms Maria Cristina. From the freshest of tear peas we conjure up many an amazing dish. I devour invaluable information about ingredients and cooking techniques from both.
The award winning Mimo, set up by Jon Warren is truly unique, It’s a food travel company whose culinary tours pintxo tours wine tastings are legendary. And now it has added on a private jet tour to explore the deliciousness of Spain and to take cooking classes too. Talk of taking gourmet to new heights!!
FIRST TIME EVER…
What do flamenco, the cold vegetable soups, gazpacho and salmorejo have in common? I am in the birthplace region of all three, Please take a look at the accompanying photograph. I invited the graceful flamenco dancer to be part of the photograph because we are in the beautiful, historic city of Seville. The birthplace of the flamenco.
We re in the historic landmark of Seville built by the Uber stylish king Alfonso XIII this stunning palace was built as a hotel owned by the City of Seville has a beautiful museum meticulously put together by the dynamic Carlo Suffredini. I love the Moorish Renaissance Baroque styles of architecture. The list of regulars is endless… OmarShariff, TomCruise, Sophia Loren.Im as excited to learn the recipe of Salmorejo, to do the Mimo tapas tasting tour with the knowledgable Aldaras as I am to take my first lesson in flamenco (in a flamenco dress from Lina, Spain’s finest flamenco dress designer ). I had no idea that it originated in the 7th to the 9th centuries here in Spain or that UNESCO declared flamenco one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Or that the beautiful
Gothic Seville Cathedral is the site of Christopher Columbus’s tomb.
King Alfonso XIII ‘s recipe for “salmorejo” :
Ingredients for 6 persons:
1 kilo ripe tomatoes
200 grms rustic white bread
100 ml extra virgin olive oil.
1 clove garlic.
Salt to taste.
Grated hard boiled egg.
Finley diced a corn fed Iberian cured ham.
Extra virgin olive oil.
Method: Wash well the tomatoes, it is important that the tomatoes are at room temperature before you blitz them.
Blitz the tomatoes in a kitchen blender.
In a bowl break up the bread to walnut sized pieces.
Cover with the blitzed tomato, and let rest for 10-15 minutes.
Add the clove of garlic and blitz again.
Lastly we add the olive oil, it is important that the olive oil is good quality as this will help to achieve a proper emulsion.And the end result will be a creamy and thick.
Spoon the salmorejo into previously chilled bowls and garnish with grated hard boiled egg, diced acorn fed Iberian cured ham, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
It is a heady combination. Gourmet food, natural beauty and palaces. The air is kissed with the fragrance of orange blossoms growing all over this picturesque ancient city in Spain. Round shiny cheeked oranges are not only in the foreground of the photo I’ve shot but we’re also under orange trees. I’m not only addicted to the Orange torta acciete (crisp unleavened, orange biscuit created in this city of Seville hundreds of years ago) but also the ninety year old magnificent palace built by King Alfonso xiii. His gourmet and aesthetic sensibilities infuse this stunning Moorish and Renaissance palace with magic. Chef Bryan Deegan continues the legacy of creating sublime regional and local dishes. Carlo Suffredini who helms this historic landmark ensures that every detail is flawless. Any wonder Tom Cruise, David Rockerfeller, Gwyneth Paltrow and others continue to be regulars here?
Foodie travellers, your attention please! This is it. This beautiful seaside San Sebastian is Spain’s gourmet capital. It has more Michelin stars per capita than anywhere else in the world and moreover you just cannot have a bad meal here.I write from this sunny cool and stunningly beautiful, Belle Époque architecture studded city. For sure San Sebastian is just the perfect destination for taking a cooking lesson and that too in the best of the best… Mimo cooking school. Attached to over a century old iconic palace Maria Cristna hotel, beloved of the Royalty (named after Queen Maria Cristina) Hollywood superstars this super glamorous palace hotel combines luxury and high-tech and this outstanding cooking school too. At the handsome, gleaming, well-equipped cooking school, Chef Patricio Fuentes helps me wear my chef’s coat and voila it’s time for a hands on cooking session. Sportingly, joining us is the dapper dynamo Ned Capelaris who helms Maria Cristina. From the freshest of ingredients, we conjure up many an amazing dish. I devour invaluable information about ingredients and cooking techniques from both. After all I’m not only attending the most iconic cooking school but also cooking with the icons.
Did you know that Spain produced the most heady and fabulous black truffles? Or that it’s delicious baby eels cost as much as the price of gold? And nobility and aristocracy for over five centuries continues to produce the most exquisite olive oil? Im learning and eating and tasting, attending discussions at a rapid speed. Making the most of my time at the most prestigious 16th edition of Madrid Fusion. This global food congress magnetises the finest from around the world; over a 100 chefs from 15 countries , technical demos, training workshops. Its all here…from discussions on haute cuisine and copyright, wine tastings to new generation of rebellious cooks. Orchestrating it all is Esmeralda Capel and family, Ofcourse many a Michelin starred maestro, here, like Mario Sandoval ( holding the black truffles) Im Tasting the finest and rarest olive oils made by Aristocracy (Marques de Grinon, Xandra falcons Alonso Marchesi de Valdueza) going on guided Tapas tours and most importantly devouring knowledge. Bliss!
I’m star-struck in Spain! From the sparkling with flavour and texture pintxos and other dishes to the superstar chefs I meet and dine with. From the legendary Juan Marie Arzak, the father of Modern Spanish cuisine to our very own Chef Vineet Bhatia who has just received a Michelin star. Even the luxurious iconic century old San Sebastian Hotel, named after Queen Maria Cristina is the superstar hotel of superstars. Not only was it a beloved of Liz Taylor, Bette Davis and others but even today Ned Capeleris ensures that it magnetizes the best. Chef Miguel Piniero distils delicious Spain on our plates. And somewhere through my gourmet meal here, I get to know that Shah Rukh Khan stayed and loved it here too. Starry, starry Spain!
Stop press. I report from gastronomy’s seventh heaven…what else can a city be called when it has the second largest number of Michelin stars in the world? And not only is this stunningly beautiful seaside city of San Sebastian the nurturing ground for these awesomely brilliant chefs but (aptly enough) hosts the world famous food conference Gastronomika.
High-octane discussions and talks by leading chefs, real time tastings while the cooking is taking place, cooking classes, pintxo tours and more. The chefs from the third and fourth best restaurants in the world (Joan Roca and Mauro Colagreco) share their secrets. At the glittering launch event, Juan Marie Arzak the father of modern Basque cuisine graced the occasion, Michel Bras was felicitated by the dynamic director Roser Torres (who sportingly wore an Indian salwar kameez).Also sharing their knowledge and experiences were many an awesome international chef. And to top it all, our very own Indian chefs were the guests of honour.
Together, they served up a delicious overview which was mind-blowingly comprehensive and at the same time personalized. India’s thousand-year-old tradition and the latest avant-garde innovations glittered with equal intensity.
FIRST TIME EVER…
First time ever. An Awesome star cast of award winning Indian chefs from around the world got together. Ive attended many an international conference, but never has there been such a constellation of superstar Indian chefs.
Each one a maestro in his own right gave the world a taste of incredible India. Literally too. Happily ive not only dined at each ones superb restaurants in London Bangkok Delhi Chennai Mumbai and Sanfrancisco but also given them our very own Times Food Awards and applauded them as chairperson of the Indian subcontinent of Asias50best and Worlds50best Restaurant academies. Each one dazzled through their presentations and cooking demonstrations held in the huge auditorium of the sprawling and well-equipped Kursaal .
Crowned Asias best chef three years in a row and the worlds7th best, Gaggan Anand enthralled the audience as he shared his secrets and cooked up his Indian progressive magic. Presenting the philosophy and diversity of our cuisine was Manjit Singh Gill.
,the treasure house of knowledge Ayurveda and cooking. From San Francisco, Michelin starred Quilon’s Srijith Gopinathan kept us fascinated with his presentation of “India de luxe” As did our other Michelin starred chef Sriram Aylur of London’s Quilon on “Extreme spices of the South”. Yet another Michelin starred chef Vineet Bhatia of Indego ‘s fascinating presentation on “harmony and complexity” was followed by the deliciously riveting one of the only Indian restaurant (from India) on Asias 50 best list, Manish Mehrotra of Indian Accent’s talk and demo on “Indian emotional avant-garde”.
The secrets of the North: “Dum” cooking were wonderfully revealed by Dum Pukht’s Gulam Quereshi.
Exotic flavors of the South were brilliantly presented by Praveen Anand of Daksin as was “Tandoor explosion” by Bukhara’s J.P. Singh Bombay Canteen s gifted Thomas Zacharias presentation on “Wild India” was eye-opening. “European language, Indian feelings” was the fascinating subject of Masala Library s bright young chef Saurabh Udinia’s talk.Team incredible India received thunderous applause. Well deserved. Kudos.
Through it all, we were delighted at how each and every chef cooked and served up atleast one dazzling vegetarian dish. From Manish Mehrotra’s chat patta chaat with a twist to Royal Vega’s Varun Mohan’s “Timoori aloo” . The highlight is that not only Varun himself vegetarian but Royal Vega our only purely vegetarian pan Indian fine dine restaurant. He shares with us the recipe he demonstrated in the Gastronomika.
RECIPE.. TIMOORI ALOO
½ kg Baby Potato
2 cup Greek yoghurt plain
Salt To taste
½ tea spoon Fresh lemon juice
1tea spoon Green chilies paste
1 tea spoon Ginger paste
½ tea spoon Timoor freshly pounded (Himalayan Pepper)
½ tea spoon Red Chili flakes
1 tea spoon Cardamom powder
¼ tea spoon Nutmeg powder
¼ tea spoon Mace powder
1 cup Cream
2 Table spoon Ghee
2 pieces TejPatta
¼ tea spoon Cumin seeds
½ cup Onions, finely chopped
¼ tea spoon Saffron, dissolve in a tea spoon of warm water
Wash, pat dry, prick cut potatoes into halves
Boil with salt until tender.
Drain and cool.
In a bowl add yogurt, lemon juice, ginger paste, green chili paste pounded timoor, red chili flakes, cardamom, nutmeg, mace powder, salt and cream, mix well.
Marinate potatoes in this mixture. for 35 – 40 minutes.
On medium heat, in a heavy bottom pan, put ghee tejpatta, cumin, stir 30 seconds, saute onion.
Add marinated potatoes. Bring to boil, stir. Cover. reduce heat. cook for 10 to 12 minutes. Sprinkle saffron. Serve.
P.S. Aptly enough, I was taken to lunch to KM.0 (hold your breath) a pure vegetarian restaurant by Gemma Moliner and dream team. It served up delicious and amazing creations. And ofcourse I feasted on Michelin starred restaurants…what a line up…Arzak (Juan Marie Arzak and his daughter Elena Arzak thrill) Mugaritz, Akellare, Mirador de Ullia…Was dazzled by them. As by the Gastronomika and our very own team Incredible India.
I was privileged to get a taste of modern era’s culinary history-in-the-making. It was a historic feast in every sense of the term. Never before have such great chefs come together and shared their views on the future of gastronomy… Ferran Adrià (Spain), René Redzepi (Denmark), Joan Roca (Spain), Massimo Bottura (Italy) and Daniel Humm and Will Guidara (partners; New York). Each of their restaurants has been at No. 1 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants over the last decade. The who’s who of gastronomy flew in to Barcelona only to celebrate the World’s Most influential giant of gastronomy, `World’s 50 Best Restaurant Academy’s’ 15th birthday. Since inception, the `World’s 50 Best’ has been shaping the global culinary landscape. It has once again created history. May your 15 turn to a 115. Happy 15th Birthday!
I’m thrilled to art in sunny Barcelona. Every conceivable form of art, breathing art, seeing art, hearing art and of course tasting art. Over the years, Barcelona has been my most favourite city which has nurtured global superstars of art, architecture and cuisine. I’ve been a constant and ardent fan of trailblazers Antonio Gaudi, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and of course my culinary hero Ferran Adria. I have luxuriated in their immortal art forms and dining at Ferran Adria’s El Bulli was an experience I’ll treasure forever. And this time, thanks to my ever helpful friend in China, Vito Romeo, I even stay in the aptly named and the stunning Hotel Arts, designed by the globally renowned architect Frank Gehry.
Please take a look at the accompanying photograph, the intriguing flying Fish sculpture that you see, is named after a Spanish dance (Sardana) performed in front of the cathedral and for sure the Hotel Arts, while not a cathedral has a similar dominating presence. And standing below is the brilliant Calatan chef Antonio Saez , who at a very young age worked as chef de cuisine in a three Michelin starred restaurant. He masterminds the wealth of dining options here and shares with me amazing insights about Spanish cuisine. The dapper and dynamic Raul Salcido helms this 25 year old iconic landmark and ensures that it delivers superb food and equally superior service.
DINING IN THE ARTS
All under one roof; A mind blowing wealth of dining options, I dine at two Michelin-starred Chef Paco Pérez’s Enoteca. And am blown away by his sheer genius and creativity which fuses textures and flavours into a delicious parade of dishes.
Lunching on Michelin starred Chef Sergi Arola’s fresh ingredients straight from the Boqueria market is a treat.
Seafood from all the coastlines of the world dazzle at Marina, which is situated in the gardens with views of the Mediterranean.
Its always been my most favourite summer soup. The very simple to make, Gazpacho. Not sure whether it’s recipe finds place in the first ever culinary book which was written in Barcelona in the 12th century.
And though Barcelona has assimilated cosmopolitan cultures, over a 1000 years, it continues to hold it’’s own roots, culture, language and cuisine in high regard.
I am fascinated by this complex yet amazingly simple cuisine and the high state of gastronomy in Catalonia. And thanks to Chef Antonio Saez I taste and learn more about it.
Interestingly, Gazpacho may be served as a starter, main dish, or tapas. Its old and original recipe includes garlic paste, bread, olive oil, vinegar and salt. Chef Antonio points out “You can many different kinds of gazpachos. Cherry gazpacho, beetroot gazpacho or peach gazpacho”, he explains, “What you need to do is, change 1/3 of the weight of the tomato for cherries, peach or beetroot.You will have a totally different gazpacho.”
1.5 kg of plum tomatoes/400g of cucumber
150g of green capsicum/50g of onion
500ml of mineral water/½ garlic clove
250g of Extra virgin olive oil/25g of cider/ vinegar/ Salt
Blend all the ingredients, but not the vinegar and salt. Using an upright blender, blend for 5 minutes at maximum power, pass through a fine sieve and keep in the fridge. Adjust seasoning with the salt and vinegar.
Serve very cold in soup plates, finish with garlic croutons, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
MORE GREAT SPANISH RESTAURANTS
Crowned the “worlds best restaurant” five times over, Spanish wizard Ferran Adria’s “El Bulli” was a phenomenon. I was fortunate enough to have dined here, before Adria shut it. This is where Ferran Adria coaxed science to copulate with imagination and deliver brilliant surprises in texture, temperature and taste. His innovation of “molecular gastronomy” (though he hats the word) continues to inspire the world.
CELLER DE CAN ROCA
Multi-sensorial Techno-emotion cuisine seduces at worlds best (twice over) Located an hours drive out of Barcelona, the three Roca brothers fuse science, poetry, melody, into an orchestra of flavours & textures & memories & stories. This is my second dinner here and once again I come away thrilled.
My last meal at the Michelin starred Disfrutar (means Enjoy) more than lives up to it’s name. The brilliant chefs Mateu Casañas, Oriol Castro and Eduard Xatruch conjure a delicious extravaganza of innovative surprises.
I am feasting non-stop. And I’m on a “controlled diet” in a state of the art wellness clinic in the stunningly beautiful Spanish Mediteranean coast. Not only is the food delicious and views delectable but I’m also devouring facts about food at a rapid pace.
Ancient wisdom is tangoing with the most advanced western techniques. Here in the globally acknowledged SHA wellness clinic, nutrition and natural methods are the core. Healthy-Ageing and non-invasive Aesthetic Medicine completes this well-being of the mind and the body of the SHA method.
How amazing is this? SHA ‘s healthy and therapeutic menu was awarded the Millesime ́s highest recognition for the Best Gastronomic Trend Grand. Healthy can be gourmet and this propelled me to take cooking lessons in their Mediterranean and Japanese Macrobiotic traditions.
The SHA food pyramid upholds the recommendations from the World Health Organisation
Driving this award winning wellness clinic is the Battaler family, Not only did the father Alfredo Battaler set up this clinic because he found a natural and unique solution to his life threatening health problems but his three sons take an equally passionate interest in it. I’m thrilled to meet the dapper Alfredo Bataller Pineda and watch chefs Andres Moran and Carlos Garcia in action. I also attend a chefs studio class and get the recipe of the unique gluten free, sugar free, dairy free carrot cake which also has ginger and turmeric and lemon. Should you want the recipe please tweet Instagram @rashmiudaysingh email me email@example.com