Lights. Camera.Eat. So what if its minus two degrees in the Korean capital of Seoul. Here, on the TV set, under the bright lights, its sizzling hot. And what better way to learn about Korean food than from the maestro, 70 year young, legendary actress and chef Soomi Kim? And to be invited to cook and shoot on the sets of her hugely popular TV show. Superstar chef Hyun Seok Choi teaches me more fundamentals as does Jin Pyo Kim the mover and shaker of Seoul’s restaurant scene. All thanks to Jung Yum Choi Im learning how to make “kimchi” the traditional way. And tomorrow driving four hours to the mountains to the celebrated Buddhist monks monastery. To get her blessings and to eat her vegetarian food. Cant wait to learn from her how to make vegetarian kimchi. Need recipes? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sure! I have dined in the gourmet capitals’ worlds best restaurants but this is the first time that I’m getting a taste of freshness redefined. Here under the stunningly vivid blue sky nestled in the north west coast of the beautiful Mauritius island is “On the rocks” Here the brilliant chef Igor Bochia conjures his simply superb and superbly simple magic. Freshest of fish, be it the Dorado, tuna or red snapper is grilled on the table, right in front of each diner. The sporty and sporting Nishal Seebaluck points out that their luxurious landmark not only specializes in food but also in water sports, snorkelling, scuba diving and more. They also serve up gourmet omakase Japanese, authentic Mauritian and Creole tasting menus, Superb Italian and Indian too. Cooking classes as well as Mauritian rum tasting classes. I raise a toast to the exquisite “On the Rocks” with the finest local rum…served up only on ice… on the rocks of course!
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 email@example.com
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!!!
No two ways about it. They’re indispensable. They’re my guiding lights: they take me off the eaten path. They plug me into the insider foodie pulse of the city they live in. Mumbai, New York, Dubai, Hong Kong , Berlin, Paris and now my very latest…Los Angeles. And of course, they’re fabulous fun. I refer to my #FoodieBlinddates which i’ve been going on past 3 decades. Now, with Instagram and twitter, its simple I just post that I’m visiting a city and invite Blind dates. Pre-social media days too, along with my column I had a phone answering machine and went on many a fab foodie blind-date.
Till date my best every foodie blind date was my most recent in Los Angles. Three gorgeous powerhouses of energy and foodie information guided me to two amazing great value for money restaurants… Pizzana and Destroyer. Big time international food influencer, Kaitlin travels around the world as a TasteHunter. We lunch, munch and
and dance in Chef Daniele Uditi’s awesome pizzas…the best in LA.
Caitlin Sakdalan who lives bi-coastally between NYC and California shares her info on FAT (food and travel.) Jesse Hsu, Wedding Dancer.
documents food, chefs, and stories with his camera And Chef Daniele Uditi’s Italain food dazzles. We go on to eat to The Destroyer…but that’s another yummy story.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Here’s to the power of Food and restaurants. Did you think Foodiesm is only about taste, excitement, creativity and great cooking? It’s much more. Foodiesm is a uniting global force.And it’s power is evident here in Bogota.
I write from the most prestigious, glittering Oscar of food awards, amid the largest gathering of Latin American chefs. Here, Latin America’s 50 best restaurants are being announced. Crowned as Latin America’s best is Maido, where the ever smiling Mitsuharu’s Peruvian- Japanese Nikkei cuisine dazzles. Due to space constraint I cannot possibly list the other exciting winning restaurants, cuisine trends on display or record the pathbreaking 50 best talks on the future of food, meat and vegetables.All nationalities are mingling, tasting, connecting and celebrating here.
Making it possible is the dreamteam of the Worlds 50 best restaurant academy from London who even in as far away as Latin America, encourage and award the finest 50 best restaurants, give diners an accurate compass to find the best, even promote tourism. It’s living proof that foodiesm is a good ism, it unites us all, it is understood in all languages. It knows no boundaries or frontiers. It is, in fact, the frontier to be on.
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!
SHOOTING WITH THE STARS
Thrilling. Memorable. Delicious moments. Woven together in Los Angeles, when we were shooting for an international cooking competition for Netflix, the worlds largest streaming network. The India episode of The Final table, brought together superstars… Michelin starred celebrity chef Vineet Bhatia, awardwinning Actor Madhavan, Hasan Minhaj and yours truly as the India food critic on the judging panel. Amongst the 24 contestant chefs, there was only one from India… national award winning best female chef Amninder Sandhu. What did we all have in common? Shooting in Los Angeles super hitech Sony Pictures studio.
And of course, fittingly enough, Netflix hosted our stay in the most iconic of Los Angeles hotels…,
The LA landmark, “pretty woman hotel”, Beverly Wilshire. Located on the glamour boulevard to the world, the Rodeo drive, its been a favorite of Hollywood and Bollywood superstars for nine decades. Star spangled Hollywood dines ,meets and stays here and happily so do ShahRukh Khan, Preity Zinta, Anil Kapoor and others.
And it continues to rock with a youthful energy. Feeding this super glam contemporary buzz in this legendary hotel is our very own Executive chef Samir Roonwal Specialized in Contemporary International and Asian Cuisine. Having dined at Michelin starred Chef Vineet Bhatias restaurants in London Dubai and Mumbai, it was great to spend relaxed time with him lunching on the sundrenched patio of the BLVD. And nibbling on Chef Roonwal’s healthy and delicious creations with the forever helpful lovely Lauren Dutton Breen was a treat. Here, two of my passions come together in a sacred union, cutting edge food and plenty of vibrantly healthy fare too. Not only does Americas leading chef Wolfgang Puck’s CUT restaurant raise the bar but Chef Roonwal serves up equally spectacular healthy fare. Here’s a sample …
1 Whole Lemon Juice
4 Teaspoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Teaspoon sea salt
1 Oz Caviar
10 ml Fennel Oil
1 Fennel Flower for Garnish (optional)
Freshly Cracked Black Pepper, To Taste
- Cut the Avocados in half and remove the stone and the skin.
- Slice the Avocado very thin and arrange it one by one in an overlapping form.
- Sprinkle lemon juice on the cut pieces. Season with salt and cracked Pepper.
- Brush some Fennel Oil on the Avocado.
- Garnish with a quenelle of and a fennel Flower.
UNDER THE STARS
First time ever… You can now sleep under the stars in this shimmering city of stars. Camping in a tent for two on the top of Beverly Hills most iconic landmark. “Glamping” just got redefined… a tent with a shimmering crystal chandelier, marble lamps, and plush rugs. Feasting not just on unparalleled, breathtaking city views but feasting also on te exclusive, 8 course gourmet glamping tasting menu which changes seasonally, in which every dish is customized to your choice. Chef Roonwal cooks this tasting menu in person, on the Veranda, using elevated takes on picnic table favorites. End with innovative reimagination of Campfire S’mores with 24k gold leaf from celebrity chef Chris Ford. Luxury drips in every practical detail. Here,reality is more exciting than fantasy!!!
Back to school…studying, upgrading and updating one’s knowledge is crucial. And to do it in the best of the best is exciting. And that too in Paris, the worlds gourmet capital. The second half of our course is in the land of champagne, at the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne.
At Hautes Etudes du Goût (Advanced Studies in Taste) multidisciplinary training programme I,m learning from the eminent university professors, researchers, experts, food professionals and even the revered Herve This, the father of Molecular gastronomy. We re focusing on the culture of taste, gastronomy and the art of fine dining. From going at 2 AM (yes!) to the worlds largest fresh produce market Rungis, Paris to paired, tutored food and wine dinners at Michelin restaurants and back-breaking 10 hour lectures on historic, scientific, economic and sociological aspects of gastronomy. There is a written exam tomorrow and a thesis to be submitted. Excuse me as I go back to my studies…