“Dimsum” translates to “touch the heart” in Chinese and my four city China trip through Michelin starred restaurants, local holes in the wall and superb dimsum sure did touch my heart. But the treat to beat all treats was in Beijing. To interview and dine with China’s best chef Tony Lu, who shuns publicity, never meets journalists. He says he prefers to focus his time on nurturing his seven restaurants and two Michelin stars. And in Beijing’s most popular Cai Yi Xuan, ( “the art of dining”) where along with Tony Lu’s menu I had yet another fabulous surprise, our very own dapper Vishal Sanadhya who heads up food and beverage in this iconic hotel. I get a taste of China’s Beijing, Shandong, Guangdong and Zhejiang provinces in this shimmering, glamorous restaurant.
Delightful dimsum of course, plump with flavour and texture. I devour amazing lessons about China’s cuisine incredibly rich culturally, gastronomically and medically. In ancient times, a cooking pot (the ding) was a symbol of political power and in this carnivorous country, I not only ate at many a pure vegetarian restaurant but also in Shanghai’s sublime pure vegetarian Michelin starred restaurant. Tony Lu’s of course. My learning continues.
My mission to sniff out the finest vegetarian food around the world continues. And even here, in “the worlds most stylish restaurant” in Palazzo Versace, (the worlds first fashion branded hotel,) I’m dazzled by the parade of sophisticated and delicious vegetarian dishes. I love the transcendence of Italian design which shines through the marbles and mosaics, vaulted ceilings hand-detailed in gold. And equally amazing is chef Dayan hartell-Law’s mastery over flavors and textures. Including that over our very own Madras Onion and curry powder which is elevated to stratospheric heights Finedining gets redefined. Juicy watermelon, crunchy radish and fingerlime morph in the most refreshing ceviche. The humble potato is elevated to a gourmet status as it is paired with kombu, the fleshy portobello and the flavorpacked porcini. As does the vivacious and beautiful Jasmine Webb. We raise a toast to Versace serving up style as well as substance…and we do it with a sorbet, in a Versace cup of course!
P.S Should you want Palazzo versace’s Madras onion dish recipe please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Our hunt for home bakers and caterers continues. And everytime I think that our Times Food guide has them all, I get pleasantly surprised. Like the new age, stylishly modern vegetarian gourmet catering by Harsh Shodhan, which I taste in the hostess with the mostest, Sonal Pakvasa’s elegant dinner in the garden. Pesto khandvi, hummus on edible spoons, mini handvo with chilli jam delight, and enjoying these is the uncrowned queen, Mumbai’s doyenne of vegetarian catering and food, vivacious Jayshree Thacker. Her iconic restaurant and catering has magnetized Mumbaikars for decades. Double veggiewow indeed!
CHENNAI’S CHUTNEY MAGIC
Found. Atlast. The most vibrant of chutneys and chutney recipes and that too here, at our “Whats hot tasting session” in Chennai. I like to call myself a “chutney champion” and trawl the world looking for unique and yummy chutney recipes. Be it the fruit based ones of the Western cuisines or the spice infused ones of the Eastern ones.
SHHH! SECRETS AHEAD
Im about to share a very yummy secret with you. Correction: many secrets that will help you cook and eat healthy as well as tasty. And creating these recipes and sharing them freely is a slender, slim and sunshiny young girl. I was so rivetted by her instagram posts that I requested to meet her. Whoa! What an amazing success story…Karen McLean , this Australian-Vietnamese girl moved to Dubai only two years ago and since then has millions of fan followers. She’s a qualified CA who came to a foreign country (Dubai), loves cooking and her dad and grandpa are amazing cooks. But healthy eating recipes are her very own and it was accidentally that Karen started sharing them on her website and instagram and voila! her fan following hit sky high.
I’m rejoicing! Im about to share some very heartening food news with you! It’s news that makes our country proud. It’s all about our very own pure vegetarian “annam” which not only stunned the carnivorous gourmets of the world but had them asking for more. This happened in the foodie city of New Orleans at the very prestigious “Dinner lab” and presenting this pristine “annam” along with its benefits as “supreme medicine” was our very own knowledgable and talented, author and chef, the Chennai based Viji Varadarajan.