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.
Juhu is the latest. Bangkok, Hong Kong, China, Tokyo, Manila, London and now Mumbai. Mango Tree put down it’s roots in Hotel Horizon, in March this year. As a rule, I’m wary of chain restaurants. So did a thorough and systematic check out over two meals spread over three months.
Read my full review in today’s Bombay Times.
Perched opposite the Opera House, Botanica is a 65 seater modern, bright, cheery and tile-floored space. The interiors are a mix of classic and contemporary with floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Read my detailed review on whatshot.in
It’s the cherry on the nostalgia cake. Literally too. Im getting high on the Cherries Jubilee dessert (in the foreground of the photo) invented by the famed Auguste Escoffier for Queen Victoria’s Jubilee celebrations, in 1897. Tasting it here in the 137 year old spectacular Grand hotel, declared a ‘National Heritage Property’ of Srilanka is a treat. Old world Colonial charm infuses the magnificent Tudor building, Victorian fire places, teak wood furniture, shimmering chandeliers and many a traditional recipe is preserved here. High tech comforts and old world luxury fuses together. Tyrone David ensures I get a fascinating taste of the past. From the Scottish cock a leekie soup to the Cherries Jubilee. From taking a cooking class from Executive chef Priyantha Weersinghe to golfing in the 125 year neighbouring beautiful golf course it’s a trip back in time. After all I’m in the cold and sunny “Little England” . That it is perched in Nuwaraeliya, in the mountains of Srilanka is another story.
Quirky, cheery décor (please see photo) in this Kala Ghoda Cafe meets Hollywood. Art work of famous Hollywood stars on the walls and chairs et al. Wooden steps lead to a small mezzanine section.
In Mumbai. On a whirlwind three day trip. Internationally celebrated as the worlds finest, highly awarded, three Michelin-starred chef Massimo Bottura is in town. Not only is he the global leader of gastronomy but along with his vibrant wife is spearheading social change, with their NGO “food for soul” (where, in London, I was privileged to volunteer as a waitress). Forever etched in my taste bud memory is my five-hour, 15 course mind-blowing meal at Massimo’s Osteria Francescana in Italy where the genius’s thoughts became deliciously edible.
And now, it’s an exhilarating joy to give the lovable power couple a taste of Indian flavours and most of all to observe their responses and reactions. The sheer bliss on his face when the delicate fragrance of biryani at the finest Indian K and K seduced. Kerman Lalkaka, Chef Sunil Gadihoke had fittingly laid out a feast for an emperor. Lara tripped out on the sweet tangy spicy pani puri in Pinky Dixit’s Soam. Hay strewn cacophonic Crawford market to the serene, stylish Ensemble
to the iconic Taj where chef Amit Chaudhari served up regional flavors. Prateek Sadhu and Aditi Duggar’s cutting edge Masque, Floyd Cardoz and Chef Zachariah’s Bombay Canteen delighted them.
“Indian food is an encyclopedia of overlapping landscapes, cultures, religions and people” says Massimo. “our small sampling has opened our eyes to a world of flavors… strong and delicate, powerful and submissive, fun and serious… Eating is the best way to learn!”
P.S. And even as you read this we will have lunched in Shree Thakker Bhojnalay and they will have landed back home in Italy.
Tucked into the armpit of Raghuvanshi mills, Panayaa, this 6000 sq ft is white, bright and airy, Gilded mirrors et al. A hookah lounge and a bar is piled on top of the restaurant.. Read my entire review on – https://whatshot.in/mumbai/critics-review-does-this-lower-parel-restaurant-live-up-to-its-modern-indian-tag-r-9863
Bangkok, Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka and now the Nara Thai chain comes to Mumbai. For some inexplicable reason there’s been a famine of Thai restaurants in Mumbai. So when the dapper, high-profile New age Bollywood producer Atul Kasbekar, gourmand amongst gourmets, recommended Nara Thai (after his great meal there) we made a date, And wow! What a date
Read my entire review of NARA THAI on – https://whatshot.in/mumbai/nara-thai-impresses-with-this-luscious-thai-tea-crepe-cake-r-9860