Mind boggling choices here. Should I take a class in it’s most legendary cooking school? Feast in the Michelin starred uber luxurious restaurant? Dine on traditional brasserie classics? Or take a sip of history in my favourite author Ernest Hemingways favourite bar ? Not to mention that it has the city’s best swimming pool (perfect to burn calories and build up an appetite) Over the years I’ve been doing it all. One step at a time. For sure this ain’t no mere Parisian hotel. It’s a global legend. It is over a hundred years old and still in line with the times. It has not only been witness to history but has even rewritten history, inspired trailblazers and blazed many a trend itself. Beloved of literary geniuses (Hemingway, Proust et al) movie stars, fashion legends, this is the only hotel in the world whose name become part of our vocabulary and has even inspired the song “Putting on the Ritz” ( dress fashionably). Founded in 1898 by two of the worlds greatest names in hospitality, Cesar Ritz and the greatest French Chef Auguste Escoffieur it was the first to have lifts, electricity and private bathrooms. A few years ago it went through renovations but preserved its period furniture and paintings à la Louis XV et al. Christian Boyens who helms this landmark ensures that it continues to be the queen of hotels and hotel of queens.
THE GREAT TABLES OF THE WORLD
Whoa! So many stars in the afternoon? A few days ago, at the iconic Ritz, I attended the elegant and exclusive launch of the prestigious Les Grand Table du Monde 2018 (the great tables of the world).Only Michelin starred chefs present at the launch of this guide established in 1954 to “defend the values of great gastronomy and the art of living” covers 26 countries, across five continents and features 172 restaurants. President David Sinapian, presented the Guide and the ten new members in the salons of the iconic Ritz Paris. My co chairperson of the Worlds 50 best restaurant academy. Nicolas Chatenier flagged off the delicious afternoon with his welcome speech. And a memorial tribute to Paul Bocuse, caviar, oysters to Baba au rum and DomPerignon sparkled the afternoon. It was the brilliant starred chefs who lit up the afternoon. Three starred Alain Ducasse, George Blanc to Pierre Hermes and Yannick Alleno. And playing the perfect host was Chef Nicolas Sale. Ritz’s Michelin-starred restaurant L’Espadon (swordfish), shimmering with mirrors, chandeliers, Louis XV chairs, porcelain and silver cloches continues to provide the perfect setting for his imaginative creations. Fresh from a two-star restaurant in Chamonix, he brings a contemporary vision to luxury ingredients, as in his three-stage starters (lure, raw, cooked) like langoustine with caviar and a main course of Bresse chicken for two.
Named after the noble prize winning author (and my hero) Ernest Hemingway, this charming iconic bar weaves magic. Heres an excerpt from my book “A vegetarian in Paris” (A Times Publication).
“Just what do you think the renowned American author Hemingway did in this bar which he loved? Knock back martinis ofcourse, but, the unverified story goes that its thanks to his boozing ways that the “Bloody Mary” was invented here. “Make a drink which I can drink all day and which doesn’t stay on my breath” he boomed at the Ritz bartender “so that when I go home, bloody Mary cannot smell it”. Mary was the third (or was it fourth wife?) of this colorful, lovable author. Infact, after the World war and the German occupation of this hotel, it was Hemingway who was the first to bring in his buddies and “liberate” the hotel. The award winning mixologist, Colin Field helms this masculine, cozy warm wood paneled bar with leather chairs and high stools studded with his photos and of famous authors were regulars here (Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce to name a couple). On the menu are a few veggie dishes (artichoke platter, risotto) and many a Hemingway favorite cocktail too.”
And this time at this star among the bars (done up with original photos and letters from Hemingway) I once again elbowed my way into the packed space to chat with brilliant bar chief Colin Peter Field and request him for his Bloody Mary recipe. Should you want it, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org
It was an amazing dream come true…I attended a cooking class by the world famous Japanese chef Nobu at this legendary.
Ritz-Escoffier School of French Gastronomy in the Ritz. The ethos of the school is based on Escoffier’s words, “Good cuisine is the foundation of true happiness.” It offers training courses and workshops for amateur and professional cooks and I never miss a chance of attending one.
Yoga and Thai salad? What does our very own yogic tree pose (Vrikshansana) have in common with the my most favorite spicy, sweet, sour Thai “Som Tam” (raw papaya salad)? I’m getting a taste of both inside a stunningly beautiful restaurant (Yes! You read that right). That’s only for starters, not only did I get the most authentic and delicious recipe for “Som tam” , the correct way to do the Vrikashana, but also learnt more about rejuvenation and the deep and abiding connection between food and health. I ve been writing about food and wellness for over three decades (including a weekly health column for 15 years and 52 episodes of a TV show on Health) but the “Asaya” experience here, in the stunningly beautiful Rosewood, Phuket is incomparable. It’s a hands on specially curated unique concept. It is rooted in self-discovery. Along with it Im feasting on Rosewood’s “Sense of Place” philosophy and delicious food too. And getting re-energised too!
SOM TAM AND THEN SOME
Ive dined at the finest Thai restaurants of the world (including Michelin starred ones) but none comes close to the experience here at Ta khai which sprawls under ancient trees beside the shimmering Emerald bay . Here aunty Yai and uncle Nun, the most lovable accomplished chef couple cook to authentic recipes..
And they cook here in this alfresco restaurant with it’s
open kitchens and live cooking stations. Ta Khai, which means “fishing net” has not only the most beautiful setting under trees bust also the most authentic food that ricochets in a myriad flavors and textures on my palate.A kitchen-to-table herb and vegetable garden and live fish pond adds to the magic. Many an authentic Thai dish such as Poh Pia Sod (fresh Phuket spring rolls) to KhanomTuay (steamed pandanus and coconut milk custard). They are generous enough to share the authentic vegan version of the Som tam and Yam som tam (Pomelo salad) too.
Som Tam Vegan
Quantity Lts 1 portion
40ml Lime juice
60gr long bean
40gr palm sugar
(Dressing )Mixed sugar ,lime and salt well in the mixing bowl
Pound chili and garlic in the mortar then put tomatoes and long bean and pound again
Add papaya ,dressing and peanut and mixed well
Yam Som O
Quantity Lts 1 portion
40gr White sugar
30gr Roasted grated coconut
20gr Deep fried shallot (Sliced)
30ml Coconut Cream
2gr Chilli powder
50gr Shallot sliced
5gr Coriander leave
10gr Birds chili sliced
4gr Deep fried dried chilli
30gr Tamarind juice
50gr Cashew nut
Shred the Pomelo and set aside
Place the lemon juice,salt,Chilli powder and sugar in a bowl,Mix well
Add thegrated coconut,peanuts, cashew nut and coconut cream.Continue to stir
Add the Pomelo and toss
Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with fried shallots
HEALTH & FOOD
The knowledgable resident wellness practitioner, holistic wellness expert Steve Harvey has his own reason for making me eat “Som Tam”. 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 experience their first Asaya, an innovative concept in holistic and integrative wellness journeys. It begins at Asaya’s beautiful “Wellness Atelier” with a consult with Steve Harvey. Here, the garden’s red and sweet basil, kaffir lime, lemon balm,murraya koenigii (Thai curry leaf) and pandanusingredients are crushed and blended into individual recipes for use in customized scrubs, wraps, masks and herbal compresses. The fresh Thai healing herbs are also incorporated into powerful aromatic oils used in Asaya Atelier Body Path rituals of therapeutic massages that give me deep relaxation, energy, mental clarity and relaxation. And then energy rebalancing with Himalayan singing bowls ritual follows.
Not only is my energy being rebalanced through food and therapies but even the environmentally sensitive architectural style that blends organically with the natural surroundings soothes. Through it all Im rejuvenating. And celebrating!
Foodies please note, a few weeks ago, the prestigious Michelin guide has made its entry into Bangkok. And while Im here Im determined to eat my way through the Michelin starred restaurants. Starting at the very top two-starred Michelin and right up to the street food Jay Fei who has been conferred a Michelin star.
Dish after dish has visual and gustatory starbursts. And wow! there is vegetarian caviar too, sublime in taste and texture: a vegetarian’s dream come true. Here the brilliant chef Arnaud Dunand Sauthier dazzles.
My sparkling starry meals in Bangkok begin at the legendary epitome of French fine dining, the best in Thailand (since 1958) Le Normandie. It is truly a connoisseur’s fantasy of splendid cuisine, impeccable service and elegant ambiance.
The tiny gem like amuse bouches implode with flavour and texture. I love the fact that the distinction of many dishes is a judicious intricacy, the strength of others is their focus: how intensely they taste of their central ingredient, like the seabass. And the airy and light Grand Marnier mousse is easily the best in Thailand. It elevates my Michelin starred meal even higher. From the starred French fine dine I go to my other favorites, the British High tea and the Thai Restaurant in the 141 year old historic Mandarin Oriental, But before I do that I request the chef for the recipe of the vegetarian caviar.He sets it in an empty caviar tin. If you cant find one, then any small tin will do. You need cauliflower, spring onion, veg gelatin and a little mayonnaise. No quantities are being given as it depends on the size of the tins you use to set it.Peel the extremity of the cauliflower then chopped finely. Blanched for 1min then refresh in ice bath.
Mix with the chopped truffle ( if not available, use mushrooms), sliced spring onion. Let mixture macerate for 4hrs.
Make the jelly with
and veget gelatin
Roast the cauliflwer until brown color then add water to cover it. Cooked for 2 hrs.
Pass the liquid through a cloth then put the gelatin
Put the cauliflwer couscous inside the box then cover with the jelly.Let it set and finish with some mayonnaise
BRITISH HIGH TEA
It is here in it’s elegant and historic “Authors Lounge” that I sip (literally too) over a century of legendary literary history. I enjoy the classic British High tea. It is here, in Le Grand Dame that the world renowned authors (Somerset Maughm, Noel Coward ) have lived and immortalised it. Dapper dynamic Australian Gregg Lidell who continues to helm this landmark orchestrates everything to perfection, everhelpful Karn Puntohong epitomises best of Thai hospitality. It is here, that the very gifted Patisseur Christophe Sapy constructs (the only suitable word for his amazing work) cakes. Each one a work of art. And his pastries seduce, Through it all we nibble on superlative finger sandwiches (cucumber,chicken, ham). Outstanding pastries, tarts, madelienes and a meltingly, rich, chocolate cake. And the most delightful scones with clotted cream and rose petal and pomelo jams.
And oh! That amazing sourdough bread, freshlybaked and crusty on the exterior and soft and warm inside has me asking for more. The gifted young Danierl Texter not only takes me to the amazing treasure trove of freshly baked bread, cakes and pastries but also shares the recipe of an easy to make bread at home. Should you need it, please email me email@example.com
HIGH ON THAI
It is here too, that Bangkok’s finest Thai restaurant beckons. Time is standing still as I gently glide down the gleaming “River of Kings”. We do so in a beautiful wooden-carved long tail boat. At the other end of the bank Sala Rim Nam, an exquisite restaurant serving authentic Thai food awaits me. But that is yet another story. A delicious one too!
My sparkling starry meals in Bangkok begin at the top. Michelin guide’s inaugural foray into Bangkok has conferred two stars, fittingly enough on the legendary epitome of French fine dining, the best in Thailand (since 1958) Le Normandie. Perched in the 141 year old historic Mandarin Oriental, it is a connoisseur’s fantasy of splendid cuisine, impeccable service and elegant ambiance. Here the brilliant chef Arnaud Dunand Sauthier dazzles. Dapper dynamic Australian Gregg Lidell who helms this landmark orchestrates everything to perfection, everhelpful Karn Puntohong epitomises best of Thai hospitality. . Musical, gastronomic metaphors morph seamlessly into delicious melodies here. From French fine dine, I now go to the streetfood vendor Jay Fay who has been awarded a Michelin star. Starry starry night!
How do you distil the spirit of Goa (in the midst of BKC’s steel and glass buildings), without resorting to tired, overcute clichés? O Pedro rocks seamlessly from being relaxed at lunches and brunches and buzzing at night.
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It happens only once in a lifetime. All my senses are getting pampered. And how! Im seeing the most delicious dish being cooked by the lovable legend 84 year young Asha Bhosle AND Im hearing her sing at the same time. And as though this wasn’t bliss enough, I get to touch and then taste the “Chingdi chaap “ Its made to the famed RD Burman’s recipe and it gets even more exciting when Asha ji shares that recipe with me. Her mellifluous honeyed voice sparkles the kitchen in her iconic Dubai restaurant. Almost fifteen years ago, I’d watched her cook in her Mumbai home kitchen when she’d shared her invaluable recipes for my cookbook. I was blown away by her gusto and passion and consummate cooking prowess. How does she stay forever young and exuberant? I got the answer when I tasted the new menu. She tunes in with the times, evolving herself and remaining contemporary and flexible. So while I tasted the classical biryani and chingdi chaap ( RD Burman ‘s recipe) I also tripped out on her brand new barrah lamb chops paired with carrot coconut cream, fried fish with avocado cream and baby chicken with bok choy and makhani sauce, all deliciously made by the brilliant young chef Bobby Retnakumar Geetha. With us is Asha ji s amazing and talented family and also one of the chiefs of Mashreq bank Richa Madan who not only sings well but also cooks equally well. And needless to add is a big fan of Asha ji.
All this was in her elegant flagship Dubai restaurant. The gorgeous singing legend’s award-winning culinary destinations transcend cultures and cross continents and are now in 13 locations in The UK and in the Gulf. Asha ji personally oversees the work of the restaurants’ spice master to ensure the essence of her culinary philosophy is imprinted in every kitchen, and in the experience of every diner.
But, of course, what she is best known for is her singing. She has sung more than 20,000 songs in eighteen languages, and has been showered with national and international awards.
BIRTH OF A GOURMET CHEF
‘I started cooking when I was ten years old,’ Asha explains in her soft, melodious voice. ‘My mother never used to cook, but I really learnt a lot when I had to cook for my father’s shradh . . . puranpoli, kheer, bhajiyas.’ Asha’s father, Pandit Dinanath Mangeshkar, taught her singing and coincidentally, Asha sang her first song ‘Bolte chala chal nava bala’ at the same age as she learnt to cook. Born in Sangli, when they moved to Bombay, Asha led a rigorous and hard life, leaving home at six in the morning and recording till the wee hours. All this seems to have only made her stronger.‘Mera vishwas hai that you must have will power,’ she asserts. ‘I used to love playing gulli danda on the streets and could play all day.’ She also used to borrow a lot of books from a library near the Dadar station, stay awake reading in lamp light and return them the next day. Till today she has retained her curiosity and wonder of the world around her. Her interest in cooking has much to do with this.
So fabulous is her cooking that Randhir Kapoor had once joked to her “aapke gaane se aapka khaana accha hai”. Her enterprising and dynamic son, the driving force of her restaurants, Anand sums it up in one sentence: ‘The world has lost a chef to a singer.’ To which I wanted to tell him, ‘But you have both, you lucky guys!’
THE LEGENDARY RECIPE
200 grams Prawns (tails on headless)
100grams Panko bread crumbs
1 grams sakura cress ( optional for garnishing)
2 grams coriander chopped
2 grams chili powder Kashmiri
10 ml lemon juice (bottle)
10 grams salt iodized
10 grams heirloom tomatoes (for garnishing)
25 grams ginger
25 grams garlic
30 grams kohlrabi salad (for garnishing)
30 grams red onion
1 raw egg
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Ø Remove the shell of the prawns keeping the tail on and clean in chilled water.
Ø Marinate the prawns for at least 3-4 hours before use.
Ø Using a blender, make a paste of onion, garlic, ginger, lemon juice. Add chili powder, salt and coriander chopped.
Ø In a separate mixing bowl, beat the egg and add it with the onion & garlic mixture.
Ø Crumb the prawns, deep fryer it for at least 5-7 minutes with a temperature of 350 degree.
Ø Remove from the fryer; drain the excess oil using a paper towel tap slowly.
Ø Garnish with Kohlrabi salad, Heirloom tomatoes & sakuracress
Hot news. Last week, I was lucky enough to get a taste of the delicious new offering by the father of modern Sri Lankan cuisine, Dharshan Munidasa and the stunningly beautiful Bollywood actress Jacqueline Fernandez.Sure it’s name “Kaema Sutra” harks back to “kama Sutra’ our very own bible of all things sensory and for sure this restaurant experience pampers all the senses too. However, Kaema is the Sinhala word for food and “Sutra” the Sanskrit word for the study of an art or ideology. And happily (for us) this is Chef Dharshan’s own philosophy. It seduces… be it the porksicle or “what the hopper”
I love the fact that Cheron Cafe, a small, cheery, open through the day café is the result of four decades of a family’s passion.
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