food love

Review: KEIBA

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I took a deep breath. And let out a slow, soft whistle. Of admiration! That was my reaction on seeing Mumbai’s latest new Asian beauty that has galloped into Mahalaxmi race course.

Read my full review in today’s Bombay Times!

Keiba
Beautiful Asian beauty gallops into Mahalaxmi Race course: Keiba.
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OF STARS AND SUPERSTARS

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The Parisian night  is thick with excitement. I could cut it with a knife and pop it into my champagne glass I raise a toast to this 250 year old historic treasure that has recently been reborn to global applause and been making headlines ever since. We’re dining amid this contemporary palace’s architectural riches of the 18th century which have been transformed into state of the art 21st century modern French art de vivre. 

We re at the tiny intimate jewelbox L’Ecrin, Hôtel de Crillon’s gastronomic restaurant.  Id met the young and brilliant Chef Christopher Hache several years ago and he is in my book “A vegetarian in Paris”  (A Times Group Books publication). Here’s the exciting bit…next day I attended the prestigious Michelin Guide awards and applauded him receiving his very first Michelin star. So once again Crillon is hitting the headlines. Kudos to our very own superstylish, superstar hotelier Radha Arora who as President of the international group has been spearheading this transformation. As we  feast on Chef Hache’s masterpieces of  flavour and texture, Im delighted that my young friend, entrepreneur and pastry chef Pooja Dhingra could join me at short notice (thanks to Instagram). Pooja has been seamlessly and continuously delivering Parisian styled culinary experiences in India. Inspirational journey… from working out of a tiny kitchen at home, to three stores, a café, two books and the 31 year old has exciting plans ahead. We nibble the night away as chef Hache continues to dazzle and the ever charming Pierre Jung ensures we have the perfect flawless French gastronomic starred experience. After all we’re in the world’s most excitingly luxurious modern day palace with an 18th century soul.

FOR THE BOX (6)
In the contemporary palace Crillon:  Pooja Dhingra flanked by Chef Hache, Pierre Jung. 

Review: FERRY WHARF

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For sure, Mumbai needs more regional cuisine restaurants. We welcome the enterprising  Shayna Shetty and her cousin Prakash Rai’s Mangalorean eatery which serves up  moderately priced Mangalorean fare.

Read my full review in today’s Bombay Times!

Ferry Wharf
Mangalorean delights (sampler wooden platter et al) at Shayna Shetty’s Ferry Wharf.

Recipe: McCarthy Salad

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HAUTE CUISINE…NATURALLY

Im celebrating. Im saluting the trailblazing culinary  revolution focussing on health, vegetables, naturalness  that is taking place here, in Paris, the gastonomique capital of the world. I’ve been researching vegetarian restaurants around the world ( China, Russia, Japan too) and here in Paris I find paradise. This Parisian landmark is synonymous with Dior, Dietrich and diamonds. This is where icons and trends are born since 1913. And it is here in Plaza Athenee that the very best of the best, the Michelin starred maestro Alain Ducasse’s shimmering temple to gastronomy is blazing trails. He serves up the trilogy…vegetables, cereals and fish. It goes without saying that the brilliant chef in the restaurant Romain Meder, ensures that the technical base of French haute cuisine remains intact, including expertise and absolutely precise detailing for vegetable preparation, cooking and seasoning.

 

NO GARDENER, NO COOKS

Its amazing that here in this temple to high gastronomy the gardener is being given as much importance as the chefs. And there are several reasons for it.

Alain Baraton

Head gardener of the  Royal Grand park de Versailles at the behest of François Delahaye who helms  Plaza Athénée  have established an exclusive partnership with the Palace of Versailles for the vegetables and fruits supply of the Alain Ducasse restaurant.

The freshest of seasonal Sorrel, squash, broad beans, zucchini,  to shallots, rhubarb… dazzle. Also artichokes introduced centuries ago by Catherine de Medicis and were a runaway success at Court because of their hypothetical aphrodisiac virtues .

Needless to say, all these fruits and vegetables are never exposed to phytosanitary chemicals etc. Picked in the morning and in the kitchen with hours. The ever helpful Isabelle Maurin  translates whenever I need explanations in the kitchen.

Starting off with the refreshing tomato water flavoured with hibiscus,  a parade of masterpieces dazzle, black current in black rice, the  kiss of beetroot flavour in amaranth seeds, the crunch of flax or sunflower seed and so on.  This approach infuses the work of the talented  pastry chef, Jessica Préalpato too.

 

LEGENDARY GLAMOR

What do Liz Taylor, Marlene Dietrich have in common with the Parisian landmark Plaza Athenee? Plenty.  For sure, they along with legendary figures of the world of glamor and royalty loved to stay here but there is also a deeper connect: a delicious salad dish. I tasted this Salad Mc carthy for the first time in  Los Angeles, in Polo Lounge, Hollywood’s most beloved and historic dining institution, when it had just undergone a subtle Tihany-style revamp to celebrate it’s  100th year .It was in Beverly hills (also part of the Dorchester collection)  The Polo Lounge  that Charlie Chaplin had a standing reservation, Marlene Dietrich, eradicated the “no slacks for women” dress code and dined  here. And the gorgeous beauty Liz Taylor honeymooned here four times . Her  daily favorite used to be the  McCarthy salad . I loved it then and requested for the recipe too, Imagine my delight when  the  dapper Francois Delahaye (who I met just by chance thanks to my old friend Paul Roll)  shows it to me on the menu and has it made too. Ofcourse here in Paris it has been adapted by Ducasse and diced bigger and softer. But I reproduce for you my Hollywood Polo Lounge recipe.

Beverly Hills Hotel McCarthy Salad

1/4 head iceburg lettuce
1/2 head romaine lettuce
1/2 cup grilled, diced free-range chicken
1/2 cup diced roasted red beets
1/4 cup free range egg yolk
1/4 cup free range egg white
1/2 cup  bacon
1/4 cup diced tomato
1/4 cup diced avocado

Balsamic Dressing Recipe
1 c.  Balsamic Vinegar
1 shallot
1 T. brown Sugar
3 cloves roasted garlic
1 tsp. Dijon mustard

 salt and black pepper
vegetable Oil
Place all ingredients in a blender and drizzle in the vegetable oil to emulsify. Check seasoning

Arrange salad in bowl. Toss with balsamic vinaigrette tableside. You can vary ingredients according to your preferences.

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Isabelle flanked by Chef Romain flanked by chef  Jessica and  Chef Romain at the Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee.
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Francois Delahaye with the Salad Mc carthy PHOTO OF DISH:  Liz Taylors favorite.

Hot, Haute Parisian Paradise

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Haute cuisine and haute couture are being seamlessly celebrated here. And Im overjoyed that “naturalness’ cuisines’ vegetarian masterpieces are not only being created in Michelin starred maestro Alain Ducasse’s shimmering restaurant located  in the iconic couture landmark Plaza Athenee, but even our very own book “A vegetarian in Paris” (A Times group book publication) is being appreciated.This by the dapper Francois Delahaye who helms this landmark and the charming Isabelle Maurin. Ducasse’s “naturalness cuisine” with the help of his chef Romain Meder is not only healthier and more natural, more respectful of the Planet but it dazzles with flavour and taste. Therein lies its memorable magic.

FOR THE BOX (5)
In the iconic Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee…Francois Delahaye and Isabelle Maurin.   

Review: HEMANT OBEROI

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Former grand corporate chef of the Taj, Hemant Oberoi (who has opened over 100 restaurants in his four decade career)  finally opened his signature restaurant Hemant Oberoi.

Read my detailed review in today’s Bombay Times.

Hemant Oberoi 1
Gloved service and gracious at Hemant Oberoi.

Hemant Oberoi 2

Review: TANTRA

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Jains and vegetarians,  looking for a swish ambiance  with decent traditional regional food (and booze)? Not too fussed about gourmet and modern versions? This way please. Tantra is your new mantra.

Read my full review on whatshot.in

Tantra 1
At the new vegetarian Tantra: Raageshwari Loomba, Sunil sheth and Mythily Katsaris.

 

Review: BOMBAY BRASSERIE

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Open all day. Lunch, dinner and high-chai. Fun dining takes centre-stage in this recent rollicking reincarnation of the old Bombay Brasserie.

Read my full review on whatshot.in

Bombay Brasserie
Celebrating the new Bombay Brasserie: Nina and PK Vasa.

 

AWESOME ASAYA

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Please take a look at the photograph: the knowledgable holistic wellness expert Steve Harvey  is flanked by two chefs in Phuket’s most amazing  Takhai, Thai restaurant by the shimmering waters of Emerald bay. The husband wife chef team are making pomelo salad. And there’s a reason why they’re specially making this delicious sweet, spicy salad for me. This is the first time that I learn what food helps me  when I travel a lot. “Sweet and spicy food will keep you grounded” explains Steve Harvey. This is just the beginning of my self-discovery journey. It truly is very exciting. And eye-opening. I ve been writing about food and wellness for over three decades (including a weekly health column for 15 years) but the “Asaya” experience here, a  hands on specially curated unique concept is truly unique. It is  rooted in self-discovery. I’m not only experiencing alternative therapies, (singing bowls ritual) learning “Darnaveda” meditation but doing so in magnificently natural spaces. And feasting on Rosewood’s  “Sense of Place” philosophy  and delicious food too.

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Holistc wellness expert Steve Harvey flanked by chef coupleNoon and Yai.