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TASTING THE VEGETARIAN ICON

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 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.

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DUCASSE’S WORLD RENOWNED COOKPOT…

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).

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 Alain Ducasse with Jean Phillipe Blondet  at the Dorchester (black and white photo by Pierre Monetta).
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 Chef Romain Meder with Francois Delahaye at Plaza Athenee.

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.

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By the Eiffel tower, sailing on the brand new Ducasse sur Seine
…Ines Aouididi flanked by Herve Garnier and Ulysse Bour.

 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 rashmiudaysingh18@gmail.com

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LATIN AMERICAS FOOD OSCARS

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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.

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Latin America’s best  Mitsuharu of Maido flanked by Tim Brooke Webb and Will Drew of 50 Best and the presenter Claudia Bahaman.

 

 

 

You are Invited

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I write this column from Chennai, where I am conducting an exciting #whatshottastingsession too. Are you a home baker? Provide foodie services out of home?  want to be part of our next #whatshottastingsession? mail rashmiudaysingh2017@gmail.com, instagram, tweet @rashmiudaysingh.  Dr Rajul Matkar, from Dubai (a gynaecologist who for a passion, bakes, develops healthy recipes, caters malwani food too) came specially. As did Sameer Malkani, dynamic chief of the Food Bloggers Association of India who has been conducting many a #homechefmatters session.  All are welcome.

Review: THE TREESOME CAFÉ

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Fusion

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Here, in rocking Versova ( Oooh! I love Versova) I am bopping around the globe in the ten day old “The Treesome Café”. While the food itinerary is not coherent, the trip is a lot of fun. As our my Versovite guests. Foodies to the core (one is a budding chef) they not only love checking out new restaurants but also live next door to this one. It’s a fun yet inspirational evening, as in these selfish and materialistic times, it is a joy to meet selfless crusaders.

Be it the lovely Natasha Sara owner of an eclectic hair studio (which combines hair fashion with spiritual wellbeing guidance for body mind spirit) Or her friend and brilliant criminal lawyer Suman Prasad. Together, for the past three years, they have taken on the welfare of an abandoned old lady in Versova. The crusading twosome is doing this through the law and government in order to help many other senior citizens in this similar plight. Having trained as a chef, Asmita Prasad gives us her culinary insights to the food here. They all live close by and are sure to be regulars at this new Versova Cafe.

DECOR

Pleasant. A fairly small, boxed in airconditioned area and an alfresco one (total of 1300 sq ft) are done up in casual, relaxed style. Two bars, exposed industrial- pipes look and tree mural on the wall complete the décor.

FOOD & DRINK

Be prepared to get your tastebuds assaulted, cajoled and seduced.Many a bar-bite and very few main courses serve up desi-global innovative flavors. South Indian masala infuses the delicious Rajnikanth omelette, while the butterchicken gives a  spicy charge to the bland risotto.Unerringly cooked plump garlic Barcelona prawns,  thermidor sauce drenched grilled fish delight. Flavorsome Goan prawn curry, chicken cafreal and must try Kheema pav too. Innovatively plated on trays made of grey slate (the dish of  yummy baby burgers is served under a bird cage. Pl see pic). Many a creative cocktail, try the chatpatta Jamun mojito.

MINUS POINTS

Uncomfy seating, big, fat sofas crammed into a small indoor space. Not enough vegetarian options (I am told they are adding to the veggie menu)  Indie steak (paneer and dal makhani) is a mish mash, the bhel lacks zing and the so called Maldivian fish cake Bokiba is lackluster and avoidable. Chewy Chicken

Gangnam Style ( served skewered in four fluted glasses). Stodgy Shroom cupcakes  and the pizza base not crisp enough. No beef  and only one pork dish. No desserts on the menu.

MY POINT

Open through the day, Treesome café (named after the fig tree outside) is more of a bar ( many an innovative cocktail) with many a bar bite.      Although the menu has weak spots, with a few  dishes not from the heart but from a marketing plan, the gifted chef Rohan DSouza’s (who has worked with Marco Pierre White)  cooking is exuberant and  reflects a steady, precise hand.

It’s mostly a mix of pubgrub  stalwarts  comfort foods, pizzas, burgers, bhel, kheema pao et al, creatively served (sometimes over the top). Beyond  bits of mild nonsense and odd affectation are real merit and considerable merriment.  Three cheers! Tree cheers!

THE TREESOME CAFE Jewel Shopping Centre,

Seven Bungalows, Andheri
Ph 60020202

Open noon to 1.30 am

Meal for two: Rs 2000

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5

 


 

YOUR REVIEWS OF TREESOME CAFÉ

Wow! Each one of you has made such insightful and relevant remarks (on instagram and twitter)  that I wish I could print them all. Sorry space constraints.

‏@andshesmiled1h

(Butterchicken risotto…

Ultimate indo-italian soul food)

mariyakach ( Rajnikant masala omlette is the yummiest. Great ambiance and food)

@waterdaughter1007

(YummmmYummmmYummmm…. And full of tasty fluff)

@npunjabi20

(Can eat yummiest Omlette and burger anytime of the day) @mansidavda

(Tasty Cupcake Shrooms , Orange & Lemon Grass Cooler)

@shyamalb

(Great place!! Amazing food )

The opinion was divided about the presentation (esp bird cage) many found it gimmicky, too loud,  others loved it.

@thebigbhookad@crazyloveshoes@voraviya@tarunkapoor11

@meghasarin @chicorychai@ekazloveatfirstbite

@yasmeengindodiya@antarazandc

@purplefoodie@mamatha_1@romakripalani

@cookingfiesta1  @ila_ii@ankitawagle

Thanks for your feedback @karanrajkohli @riotofflavours

@ankitawagle @simranimita @rajvi85

@pereiraaaron@d_diane@the_locamojo @shunzie

@vivekmittal23@poonampalnitkar

@saurabhhmehtalol@saumightsay

@dubai_fo0d @arunkatiyar

value your feedback. Instagram and twitter @rashmiudaysingh mail rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com. Waitingly yours

 

#CheapandCheerful Foodie Crawl Mahim – Dadar

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I’m so excited. New, spicy, foodie finds. Now, I know what Columbus mustve felt like. Except that he, the compulsive explorer  did not have the benefit of Twitter. Like I do. Heres how I went on my voyage of discovery: I tweetrequested for recommendations of “cheap and cheerful eateries”. Fabulous response (wish I could thank each one here). Shortlisted  a few in the Mahim-Dadar area. Invited three twitter buddies. @CulinaryMuse1 turned out to be the lovely Sunayan Shahani in pearls, foodblogger communicatns consultant and student. Knowledgable Parag Chaphekar marketing professional chucked up his succesful consultancy and is an aspiring restaurantowner. Rushing straight to the golf course (my mecca too) was foodie extraordinaire and ace golfer, Krishna Kilachand, he wanted to serve up the gourmet burger to Mumbai so set up “Burg”. We went on a whirlwind tasting tour of cheap and cheerful joints. We call it our #tweefoodeecrawl.  Many more are planned. Be my guest…Twitter handle @rashmiudaysingh mail rashmiudaysingh2014@gmail.com.

SnehaSNEHA (Kerala)

Simple and simply superb, also cluttered,  no frills and functional eatery from Kerala. Hot and uncomfy (inspite of the brown fans whirring overhead) we still walloped the lustily spiced Beef fry and beef biryani (beef is called sukha mutton on the menu) Equally delicious was the Mutton masala fry. While the  veg stew and appams, soybean masala  and the  Kappa (tapioca) biryani were okayish the thin flavorsome fish curry rice was amazing.  And Abraham the waiter (please see photo) charmed us. Idli dosa served at breakfast. Thalis too. After  our restaurant round, I went back at 4pm to taste the banana fritters (these are served only at tea. Thanks @ebubblewrapped   for this tip off) plump soft and crisp with golden batter. Steamed sweet panpoli too. Veggies stay away.

Shiv Sagar Society, Opp Paradise Cinema,  Mahim (W)  (2445 6330). Meal for two Rs 250

Daily 6-11pm. No alcohol. No credit cards.

RATING FOOD 4 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 1

 

SAIBINI GOMANTAK (Gomantak)

Avoidable even though airconditioned, etched glass paintings et al in this small Gomantak eatery. We pecked at  lackluster Mori Masala, tisrya  and more picked out of a menu with chicken  moghlai, paneer tikka and what not. Oh yes the wade were crisp and good.

Katrada Mansion, Gokhale Road, Dadar WestTel:  24328065, 24385429

Open lunch and dinner. Meal for two Rs 400, credit cards accepted.

RATING FOOD 2 SERVICE 3 DÉCOR 3

 

 

PRAKASH (Maharashtrian)

Packed and getting more packed. We stood in the snaking line outside the simple blue table and bench hallowed home of Maharashtrian food. Till a friendly bloke gave me a tip off, “ in hurry ? order parcel”. We did just that and in the car bit into the iconic piping hot sabudana vada crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. Theres poha, thalipith, batata vada and more. Somewhat greasy but great.

Shiv Sena Bhavan, Next to Kithe Hall, Gokhale Road,  Dadar West, Tel: 24304921

Open 7.30 am to 9.30 pm. No credit cards. Meal for two Rs 150

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3 DÉCOR 2

 

ChaitanyaCHAITANYA (Malwani)

Amazing home made jackfruit icecream, flavorsome peru sherbet, robustly spiced chicken shagoti, shimply masala, oyster masala, greasy but good bombils in this tiny two and a half table malwani eatery. Owner chef, Surekha Walke and daughter Saili bustle around and point out that their Dadar eatery (4, Shivaji Park House, L.J. Road) is moving to Prabhadevi.  Am adding their new address. Please call and check.

Prabhadevi near sahkari bazaar of agar bazaar. Chinch bhat chawl 24372242.

+91 9619909014

11 to 3pm 7 to 11pm Av meal for 2 Rs 500

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 2.5

 

KAKORI HOUSE

On the same street is  the tiny biryani and kakori joint whose takeaway has been my favorite. I first feasted on Ishtiyaque Qureshis (the son of the legendary Mohammed Imtiaz Qureshi of Dum Pukht and Bukhara fame),  entire repertoire at Karishma Kapoor’s wedding lunch . Softest Kakori kabab. melt in the mouth galoti , Nihari Gosht and biryani are the stars here. Veg Sabz galawati kabab moist and dense with flavor recommended too.

L J Road, opp Paradise cinema, Mahim ph 65229211 open 11am to midnight.

Takeaway call 9320090269/

RATING

FOOD 4 SERVICE 3.5 DECOR 2.5

 

P.S. Further down from Prakash is DATTATRYA (slow indifferent service in this  Maharashtrian eatery serving a mish mash of South Indian, Punjabi,  Chinese. Humdrum thali  (Rs 75) val  and kothimbir vadi good.

Nearer the Mahim church , is the bustling, messy and popular PARAMOUNT  ( Id shared a table with taxi drivers earlier) Flavorsome mutton rashida and greasy  Butter chicken and kheema are above average . Open from 6am to midnight.