I’m stumped. Call it “thaali” call it “thaal” but how do I define this fingerlicking (literally too) shortcut to : bliss? guiltfree non stop eating ? Taste of culture? Yes all this and more. Over the years I’ve been on a thaali- high be it at the South Indian (A RamaNayak Udipi or Mani Bhawan) or the Gujarati (Shri Thacker Bhojanalaya). Till now it is been only about vegetarian thaali’s (except for a fly by night wannabe non veg Bohri thaal restaurant in Grant road). And then along comes the gourmet of all gourmets, the high octane award winning charismatic actor who has four generations of film and gourmet genes. Rishi Kapoor s passion and gourmet gusto is infectious. Inspite of his hectic schedule he drove all the way to taste Gordon Ramsay’s cooking (when I was shooting with Gordon for channel 4). Over the years the charmer has guided me to his favourite foodie haunts. Once again this knight on a white charger (er SUV) fetches me and drives me to his tried tested and tasted Bohri thaal restaurant (!). He does not reveal the name or wherabouts. ” Its all part of the experience and mystique. And I have already booked” he insists.
Found. Paradise island. Its so exclusive and remote that the only way to get here is by a private chartered plane.
Its one of the few islands in the world that is located on a shimmering coral reef. It has it’s very own 24 powdery white beaches and only 40 luxury suites. So not only do I picnic on a secluded, sun-drenched beach but do so on world class gourmet food. I revel in a seven course tasting menu under the stars on the beach. And just as much as the world class cuisine hits stratospheric heights, the breathtakingly beautiful depths of the ocean’s silent and magnificent treasures reveal themselves to me as I learn to snorkel and dive from the experienced instructors here. Named Lizard island by explorer James Cook over two centuries ago, this sensationally beautiful island shimmers in the sun in the turquoise blue seas on the Northern most tip of Australias awesome Queensland.
DIVING INTO GOURMET FOOD
Please take a look at the photograph I shot on one of their secluded most beautiful beaches. Chef Mark Jenson has cooked up the most delicious fish, which is not only found in the waters around here but is also the most prized and most in demand Coral Trout ( Recipe follows). Joining us right after his deep sea scuba dive is Emilio Fortini the sporting and sunbronzed Chief of the island resort. The dynamic and charming Italian ensures that there is perfection in every detail of the understated luxury here. A wine afficianado and gourmet himself he epitomizes the spirit of the island. As does Chef Mark who having traveled the world and taken a year’s sabbatical only to eat around in Asia infuses his cooking with many a vibrant Asia flavor. He changes the menu daily and his dishes are influenced by the unique environment in which the island is located.
I love the culinary offering here which reflects the tropical climate here and draws influence from South East Asia and the Mediterranean. Not limiting to these Chef Mark also interprets modern Australia and portray through food the many cultures that embody this magnificent country. Over 90% of the produce that he uses is locally sourced from Far North Queenslands fertile soil and the Great Barrier Reef. I trip out on his premium produce coral trout, red emperor, tropical lobster, red claw yabbies and fantastic rare tropical fruits and vegetables. Succulent meats from the Atherton Tablelands where their volcanic soils and high rainfall allow the animal to graze on prime pastures.
Its not just about the superb food here. Ive yet to come across a resort which has it’s own Research centre. A mindblowing trip to the internationally acknowledged research centre reveals all the path breaking studies done here on marine life and the coral reef.
It’s a heady feeling to be connected to nature in every way and yet to be coddled in luxury, from the spa to the beachfront villas. To be massaged under the sky on a beach with the local macademia nut oils and the premium French beauty products. If this is not paradise, what is?
P.S. while it’s blissful most of the time, the only “downside” to this paradise is the lack of phone connectivity. There is only satellite wifi and Im crossing my fingers that this mail goes through now.
Crisp Coral Trout
On my request Chef Mark Jenson shares his superb and easy to make recipe. You can substitute the coral trout with any other fish.
First step is to make the sahn rhot paste. The next step is to make the sauce from the paste. The third step is to cook the fish and plate up.
Sahn Rhot Paste
30 gr red chilli
10 gr garlic cloves
10 gr coriander root
Rough chop and blitz in blender.
40 gr sahn rhot paste
60 gr light palm sugar
30 ml fish sauce
80 ml tamarind concentrate
As needed Oil
Gently fry paste in oil. Add sugar and lightly caramelise. Add fish sauce, tamarind water, bring to boil and simmer for 2 minutes.
Coral trout (or any pan size fish, gilled, gutted and scaled)
Score fish 2 cm deep to resemble diamond shapes on both sides. Use a small skewer to separate the fish wings. Dust the fish with cornflour to absorb the excess skin moisture. Fry in vegetable oil at 170C for 8 minutes till fish is cooked translucent at the bone in the thickest section of the fish.
Pour the tamarind sauce on the plate. Remove the skewer and stand the fish up resting on the fish wings. Garnish with coriander leaves and chilli julienne. Enjoy!
I am feasting non-stop. And I’m on a “controlled diet” in a state of the art wellness clinic in the stunningly beautiful Spanish Mediteranean coast. Not only is the food delicious and views delectable but I’m also devouring facts about food at a rapid pace.
Ancient wisdom is tangoing with the most advanced western techniques. Here in the globally acknowledged SHA wellness clinic, nutrition and natural methods are the core. Healthy-Ageing and non-invasive Aesthetic Medicine completes this well-being of the mind and the body of the SHA method.
How amazing is this? SHA ‘s healthy and therapeutic menu was awarded the Millesime ́s highest recognition for the Best Gastronomic Trend Grand. Healthy can be gourmet and this propelled me to take cooking lessons in their Mediterranean and Japanese Macrobiotic traditions.
The SHA food pyramid upholds the recommendations from the World Health Organisation
Driving this award winning wellness clinic is the Battaler family, Not only did the father Alfredo Battaler set up this clinic because he found a natural and unique solution to his life threatening health problems but his three sons take an equally passionate interest in it. I’m thrilled to meet the dapper Alfredo Bataller Pineda and watch chefs Andres Moran and Carlos Garcia in action. I also attend a chefs studio class and get the recipe of the unique gluten free, sugar free, dairy free carrot cake which also has ginger and turmeric and lemon. Should you want the recipe please tweet Instagram @rashmiudaysingh email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Is it possible? Can gourmet experiences, mountains, snow, fine Wine, wellness and Skiing all be combined into one? Here, in this winter-wonderland, in the magnificent Alps anything is possible. Especially in Das Central in Sölden. We go up the mountains to the worlds highest gourmet restaurant for the most amazing food, breakfast at sunrise on the glaciers, taste wines at different altitudes on ski-stations.
Now you know why I’m on top of the world. In more ways that one. Not only am in the highest gourmet restaurant of the world ( perched in the Austrian Alps ), am also in the most unique gourmet food and wine festival on the mountains. And Also, I have finally got hold of the recipe of my most favorite Austrian dish “Weiner Schnitzel”. I’m in “Sound of music” country, in Austria’s swish ski resort Solden. Along with pristine, gleaming white snow all around there are lush green trees and rolling pastures, dotted with picturesque houses. It is here that I go up ski gondolas to the worlds highest gourmet restaurant, IceQ.
JAMES BOND WAS HERE
IceQ, the gourmet restaurant where James Bond’s Spectre was shot has been making global waves, since then. Sure, it’s a spectacular architectural glassed in marvel, almost suspended in the air. But it’s here that the most gourmet of dishes are conjured by the brilliant chef Gottfried Prantl Please take a look at the photograph and you’ll know what I mean.
It’s here that I attend the finale of the annual (not to be missed) “weinamberg” “wine on the mountains”. We not only taste wine on the snow clad ski slopes ( and savor the difference) but our taste buds are pampered with wines from 15 countries. The hostess, the gracious Angelika Falkner, in the most magnificentDas central, ensures that the finest of Austrian Alpine cuisine as well as creative Mediterranean and Asian food work magic. And after all the winter sports and wine tasting on the mountains, there is the magnificent Venice inspired “Venezia water world” (saunas and steam and a pool with a Venetian mural and a real gondola too)to relax in. And then there is the finale of the Mountain gourmet safari with music and wines at different heights is truly spectacular. This is when we zip up in the ski lifts to the Ice Q peak restaurant. It’s the height of gourmet luxury. Even while I’m here, I’m already planning my next trip. Just like the “Sound of music” chorus I repeat… “These are a few of my favorite things” for sure!
DAS CENTRAL WEINER SCHNITZEL
Since I cannot send you the brilliant sunshine and snow, here’s the recipe of my most favorite Austrian dish “Weiner Schnitzel” generously shared by the brilliant chef Gottfried Prantl, This typically Austrian dish, is made with veal, but it can very easily be substituted with chicken. Its simple to make and its delightful to taste.
Ingredients for 4 persons/4 Schnitzel
4 escalopes of vel around 120 grams each
Salt and pepper
50 g flour
200 g bread crumbs
300 g dripping or clarified butter
The escalopes will need to be pounded until the meat/chicken is around a 1/4 of an inch thick. Make sure to trim the edges of the meat carefully.
Lightly season the escalopes with salt and pepper. You will need three shallow bowls – 1 for the eggs, 1 for flour and 1 for breadcrubs. Dip the escalopes in the flour first, then in the whisked egg and then in the breadcrumbs. Be careful to ensure that the the entire escalope is completely covered with the breadcrumbs. Place the escalopes in a hot frying pan, the oil in the pan should be deep enough that the schnitzel’s float whilst cooking. Cooking time should not be more than 4 minutes for each side.
Remember to serve hot with fresh lemon and potato salad Viennese style!