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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org)
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.
Serendipity at its magical best. When I was in this world-famous medical spa, Lanserhof on an amazing diet of Gluten-free, sugarfree wholesome food that I saw Renu Chainani’s instagram post of Sequel and made a long distance date request to her to take me here (and thus the review of Sequel.) The powerful benefits of eating right were immediately felt ofcourse. But I also learnt plenty more from Doctor Benedetto Reisch the dynamic medical director and Chef Karsten Wolf. All this in Lanserhof, based on a symbiosis of traditional naturopathy and state-of-the-art medicine treating both mind and body. It truly was a Healing holiday in every sense of the term. And it was all thanks to “Healing holidays”, UK’s leading independent Spa specialist, with their unrivalled experience of world-wide spas that I got to experience this life changing healing holiday.
Delicious surprises! The most amazing Michelin starred cuisine restaurant in a tiny, picturesque Italian village with a population of 750! That it is located in the worlds most dramatic and dazzling Dolomite mountains in Italy which are bathed in brilliant summer sunshine and sparkled with wild flowers magnifies the deliciousness. I shot this fun photograph in the unique chalet-within-the-hotel Rosa Alpina terrace garden where the brilliant Two Michelin starred and highly awarded Chef Norbert Niederkofler full of fun and genius kneels down to Hugo and Ursula Pizzinini who redefine the art of hospitality. In their family owned over seven decade old Rosa Alpina they make all guests feel like family. Here comfort, luxury and high-tech meld together in every exquisite detail. From the super-stylish Zeno chalet within the hotel, the bio hamam, yoga studio to movie theatre and ofcourse St Hubertus, the two Michelin-starred restaurant.
It is here that their two Michelin starred restaurant (the only one in the region) St Hubertus has been magnetizing global gourmets.
MICHELIN MOUNTAIN MAGIC
There is magic in Chef Norberts hands. “The best things are the simple things but at the same time also the hardest things to do” he says as he drives me to meet the producers from whom he directly sources milk, cheese, yoghurt, vegetables and more. “Cook the mountain” is his philosophy and local sourcing is the foundation. Having honed his skills and style under maestros around the world, it was 1993 that Chef Norbert set up St Hubertus in Hotel Rosa Alpina where he continues to dedicate his cuisine to the local mountain range, using ingredients produced in the Dolomites.
News spread of this ‘Cook the Mountain’ philosophy, as it came to be known, and in 2000 the restaurant won its first Michelin star. ‘We use twenty-five different kinds of carrots throughout the year and an almost endless variety of herbs including amaranth leaves, sorrel, wild onion and celeriac,’ he explains. ‘The most natural ingredients are the most important.’ He tells me this as we drive to meet these producers, I am fascinated and charmed and can fully comprehend the huge number of accolades Chef Norbert and his restaurant have been showered with.
Indeed, his philosophy of “cook the mountain” shines through in his “simple, clear and clean” cooking, where he skillfully combines only a maximum of 3 or 4 Flavours. His brilliant beetroot gnocchi plump with the surprising horseradish cream, barley risotto with black garlic are some of the vegetarian dishes that dazzle. I have many of his recipes and happy to share them with you. Please instagram, tweet@rashmiudaysingh email email@example.com
CARE’s – THE ETHICAL CHEF DAYS
Making a global mark is Chef Norberts forte… Other than writing bestselling books, being the only Italian chef invited to the World Gourmet summit, organising the Chef’s Cup in San Cassiano, cooking for Lufthansa Sky Gourmet (LSG)
It is now CARE, Ethical chefs which in it’s very first edition (in January this year) already has already magnetised the worlds greatest chefs. CARE, set up by Chef Norbert with Paolo Ferretti and Michelin starred chef Giancarolo Morelli, brought together , 5 continents, 20 nations, 30 chefs for 4 unforgettable days.
The goal of the “CARE’s – The ethical Chef Days“ project is to bring together chefs and people from around the world who all share a common vision: a new, innovative, sustainable and ethical approach to food.
It is a new way to teach adults and children, to raise awareness and encourage respect for nature, to promote environmentally friendly attitudes, and to show how to experience our environment without misusing it. From round table discussions on the future of food and nutrition and discussions on sustainability, ethics and development, to cooking masterclasses, and lunches in Cook the Mountain style, guided food tastings, wine tastings, wine and infusion tastings and more. The gourmet Gala dinner marks the highlight where the brilliant chefs prepare a gourmet dinner using ingredients that are usually considered “waste”, turning them into culinary delicacies.
Proof that (almost) all parts of raw ingredients can be used and that haute cuisine is not made only with expensive and exotic ingredients, but it can and must be sustainable and educational. The next edition of CARE is scheduled to be in January 2017 in the very same charming San Cassiano village with it’s population of 750 inhabitants which will magnetise the world here with Chef Norbert’s “cook the mountain” philosophy. Whoa! Mountain magic at it’s best!
A request. Please take a look at the photograph I’ve shot in the kitchen of this state of the art, medical spa. What you see being extruded from the machine is zucchini and it will be used to make “spaghetti”. And here’s the most crucial part, along with the brilliant chef Karsten Wolf is the highly qualified and experienced Doctor Benedetto Reisch the dynamic medical Director of the world famous Lanserhof. And this is exactly how the food and the recipes have evolved here…70 chefs and as many doctors did scientific research together and created the recipes. I’m sure you’ll agree with me that, nowadays, there are as many theories about which foods to eat as there are foods. Confusion, confounded. Whats good one day is declared to be a villain the next day.
Having blazed trails for thirty years, Lanserhof is Europe‘s leading centre for regeneration and preventive medicine. Lanserhof medical spa, the oasis of regeneration is perched on the mountainside overlooking meadows, forest and Lake Tegernsee.
LANS MED CONCEPT
1. Rest: Recovery and regeneration of the digestive system
2. Cleansing: Detoxifying and de-acidification of the body
3. Training: Training to achieve a change in lifestyle
4. Substitution: Individual supplementation with vital substances
It’s high energy, it’s easily digested, good health and pleasures of the palate are not mutually exclusive. Energy Cuisine reflects the state-of-the-art research findings of nutritional science, yet still places great emphasis on regional, organic and fresh produce cooked in gentle, product protecting ways.
Burdening the system in the evening is avoided, so it results in sound sleep. Reduced allergies, since fresh produce is used. It results in Healthy blood pressure and of course Enjoyment – without a guilty conscience.
Our enzymes (protein molecules that control metabolism) are very active Cortisone, adrenaline and thyroid hormones all attain their highest levels during these hours. So what you eat during this period is assimilated really well. Breakfast is the only meal at which heightened carbohydrate consumption does not cause you to put on weight. Give your body high value protein, vitamins and minerals from fresh fruit and vegetables in the morning. Lunch between 12 and 1,30 pm and dinner before 6,30pm is recommended.
It is advisable to drink about 2 liters of water daily. However for thirty minutes before and after eating, one should not drink. Water dilutes the stomach’s digestive juices and can lead to chronic digestive problems.
You’ll be amazed at the difference eating slowly and mindfully can make. This is one of the most important principles. Not only do you taste each and every ingredient and enjoy it but you digest it all and have a good digestion and great energy.
The chef has very generously shared some of his amazing energy cuisine recipes. Last fortnight, I was flooded with requests for the Agar agar and detox biryani recipe. Sorry for the delay in sending them to you will do so in the next few days. Should you need Energy cuisine recipes, please instagram, tweet @rashmiudaysingh email firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m on a quest. As a food critic I not only research (read eat) and write about whats delicious and assess the worlds best restaurants as regional jury chairperson of international academies but am on a mission to find out whats the final word on what to eat. How to eat and when to eat. And here in the spectacularly beautiful Bavarian mountainside overlooking meadows and forests I find my answers. Its at the world famous Lanserhof medical institution, which has been at the forefront of cutting edge research and is based on a symbiosis of traditional naturopathy and state-of-the-art medicine treating both . It is based on the classical Mayr medicine and the digestive system and food plays a very important part in it.
Mmm what a multi-dimensional feast for the senses: Michelin starred cuisine in the worlds most dramatic and dazzling Dolomite mountains in Italy bathed in brilliant summer sunshine and sparkled with wild flowers. I shot this photograph on our Sunday picnic in the mountains, where the brilliant Two Michelin starred and highly awarded Chef Norbert Niederkofler cooked up a memorable feast. He is flanked by Hugo and Ursula Pizzinini who redefine the art of hospitality. In their family owned over seven decade old Rosalpina they make all guests feel like family. Here comfort, luxury and high-tech meld together in every exquisite detail. From the super-stylish Zeno chalet within the hotel, the bio hamam, yoga studio to movie theatre. All this in their hotel in San Cassiano a tiny village with a population of 700.
It is here that their two Michelin starred restaurant (the only one in the region) St Hubertus has been magnetizing global gourmets. There is magic in Chef Norberts hands. “The best things are the simple things but at the same time also the hardest things to do” he says as he drives me to meet the producers from whom he directly sources milk, cheese, yoghurt, vegetables and more. “Cook the mountain” is his philosophy and local sourcing is the foundation.
As also “simple, clear and clean” where he skillfully combines only a maximum of 3 or 4 Flavours. His brilliant beetroot gnocchi plump with the surprising horseradish cream, barley risotto with black garlic are some of the vegetarian dishes that dazzle. I have many of his recipes and happy to share them with you. Please email@example.com