I’m rejoicing! My ongoing global research on gourmet vegetarian food just got more exciting. In the past few months I’ve tracked the best of the best vegetarian in Japan, China, Russia, Austria and now in the capital of glamor and films…Los Angeles. I’m feeling like a million dollars as I report from a charmed frontier (Hollywood, where else?) where fantasy is blending into reality, and that too in it’s beloved and iconic landmarks. Both close to each other in the glamorously beautiful Beverly Hills. Every square inch of both bristles with star power. Both are the haunt of Hollywood and the global who’s who. Both are legends…
In this legendary landmark, glamor and luxury drips in every practical detail and human warmth marks every hi-tech comfort. The iconic Beverly Wilshire “Pretty Woman hotel” (the movie was filmed here) turns ninety at the close of this year yet continues to rock with a youthful rhythm and beat.
Star spangled Hollywood dines, meets and stays here, it is also officially on the National Register of Historic Places of the United States. Superstars such as Elvis Presley, Warren Beatty and Steve McQueen have all lived in this luxurious landmark. As does our very own Bollywood. Over the years, I’ve had salad with Priyanka Chopra, muesli with Anil Kapoor and steak with Javed Akhtar here. A favourite of Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta, Anil Kapoor, Hrithik Roshan, Karan Johar and others.
I love to soak in the cool sunshine in BLVD, their patio restaurant on the stunning sun-drenched, Rodeo drive designer boulevard to the world. I feast on the brilliant chefs freshest of seasonal California and watch the sun bronzed greek gods with their six pack abs and la-di-da babes with endless legs glide by. And today am doubly delighted: their brilliant new executive chef is not only our very own Samir Roonwal but he especially cooks up some delightful pure vegetarian dishes which sparkle with the Californian and Indian touch. Having worked in world famous kitchens and had the who’s who eating out of his hands Samir is now creating culinary magic here.
And it is here in BLVD, ( voted top “Power Tables” … Wall Street Journal) that I catch up with him as well as the dapper, high-energy Ben Trodd, who not only helms this landmark, but also spearheads nine other superb hotels. This discerning gourmet, well-travelled Vice President wears his success and his designer suit with equal panache. We trip out on the Crunchy okra smeared with the velvety dip, which makes for the perfect cocktail snack and I request chef Samir to share the recipe with us. After this the gorgeous Lauren Dutton Breen takes me up to show me Los Angeles very first “Glamping” site.
But that another exciting story…
P.S. Within this hotel itself is yet another superb restaurant CUT by America’s high-priest of cuisine Wolfgang Puck. It specialises in non-vegetarian food. A short stroll away is his landmark Spago, where I taste yet another veggie wow.
Chef Roonwal’s Crispy OKRA
2 cups: Okra Julienne
1 tsp: Toasted Cumin seeds
1 tsp: Chilli powder
1 tsp: Dry mango powder
1/2 cup: Chickpea Flour
1 tsp: Onion Seeds
1/2 tsp: Turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Wash okra well, dry them out completely and Julienne them.
Add all the dry spice powders and seeds, along with salt, to the okra.
Toss them well till incorporated and set it down for 5 mins.
Then sprinkle chickpea flour on top (start with a few tbsps). Mix them well. Add a few tsps water so the okra gets coated with the flour.
Deep fry them in oil. Serve hot.
Ingredient: Julienne Okra, Spiced Chickpea Flour, Dry Mango Powder
Garnish: Pomegranate Seeds Fresh, Mustard Flower, Micro Cilantro
He has recently received his own star on the Hollywood walk of fame. So when this superstar celebrity chef, restaurateur, and occasional actor, Wolfgang Puck takes three hours off his busy schedule to lunch with me its celebration time. We do so in his three decades old landmark Spago which continues to play host to the who’s who of the world, to Oscar premieres restaurants and more. Wolfgangs catering services, cookbooks and licensed products are in great demand. We chat about his 27 (and counting) restaurants around the world and I trip out on the outstanding vegetarian tasting menu. Though Wolfgang Puck is single handedly responsible to introduce gourmet pizzas to the world and his signature dish at his original restaurant, Spago, is House Smoked Salmon Pizza, he continues to introduce flavours from around the world.
Today, his brilliant young chef Tetsuya cooks up an amazing pumpkin baked in salt, tangy sweet plaintain salad served in a half coconut, a parmesan marshmallow and beetroot cookie flag off our multi-course vegetarian lunch which ends with a light and bright melon dessert. And in Wolfgang Pucks Hollywood flagship restaurant in Los Angeles, their Japanese chef cooks up the most deliciously creamy (hold your breath) baingan bharta. And my joy comes full circle.
Excuse me but I’m getting high on this high tea and exquisite patisserie. Over eight decades of Hollywood history is distilling itself in this “Pretty woman” hotel in Los Angeles. Superstars such as Elvis Presley, Warren Beatty, Priyanka Chopra, Anil Kapoor have all lived in Beverly Wilshire (where Pretty woman was shot) Each one of my companions are interlinked to it too. This is the very first hotel that Our very own Bollywood and Hollywood star Kabir Bedi made Beverly Wilshire his “Home away from home” in 1977 ( when he moved to Hollywood and shot for james Bond et al) He is In LA as part of his whirlwind nine city concert tour (he plays sutradhar). Along with him is his talented son Adam Bedi who is an expert on special effects for Hollywood films and his lovely wife Melissa, an expert on makeup for Hollywood. We feast on patisseur extraordinaire Chris Ford’s sweet creations which dazzle and delight.The charming and dynamic Ben Trodd, helms nine luxury hotels, spearheads this Hollywood landmark. Also with us is the highly efficient and forever helpful “pretty woman” Lauren Dutton-Breen.
Kabir is the first Indian on the Oscar Academy jury. Loves desserts (like I do). He is crystal clear about the fact that Calories “must be worth having” I couldn’t agree with him more. Chef Fords desserts are “Oscar worthy”
I admit. I don’t have a sweet tooth. I have sweet teeth. And I travel the world looking for the best of the best. For me, desserts represent divinity and patisseurs are my passion. Here, in the land of eternal summer, in Hollywood I taste sweet magic. For many fabulous reasons. First of all, the most creative of desserts are being conjured and served up here in this iconic “Pretty woman” hotel which has distilled decades of Hollywood glamour! Beverly Wilshire is not only a legendary landmark but also officially on the National Register of Historic Places of the United States. Superstars such as Elvis Presley, Warren Beatty and Steve McQueen have all lived in this luxurious landmark.. And then of course the Hotel shot into global fame when 25 years ago it was the movie Pretty Woman starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere was shot here. And located on the glamour and fashion drenched Rodeo drive this Pretty woman continues to charm.
And it is here overlooking the Rodeo drive in it’s award winning The BLVD that their patisseur Chris Ford’s creations dazzle and delight. Over decades the Beverly Wilshire’s iconic restaurant The BLVD has been the hot spot for the crème de la crème of Los Angeles. And has recently reopened with a brand new Art Deco makeover, dramatic lighting, bold blacks and whites and contemporary gloss.
Chef Chris Ford continues to reinvent himself and each of his magical creations seduce with their beauty, taste and textures. The charming and dynamic Ben Trodd, has led many a hotel to win awards. He helms nine luxury hotels, spearheads this Hollywood landmark and is has transformed it into it’s cutting edge modern avatar, while still retaining it’s historic splendour. The highly efficient and forever helpful “pretty woman” Lauren Dutton-Breen, just moved in from NYC is already making waves in LA. And over high tea we taste Chef Ford’s sweet magic.
Looking every bit like a glamorous chef in Hollywood shoutd, Chef Ford is a powerhouse of talent and hardwork. You can watch him demonstrating his recipes (including this one) on butterloveandhardwork.com under vimeo. He shares his Peanut butter mousse recipe with us.
PEANUT BUTTER MOUSSE
|Ingredients: 200 gms milk/200gms cream/ 120 gms egg yolks/ 80 gms sugar/ 200 gms peanut butter. 5 gelatin sheets/ 300 gms cream|
|Prepare gelatin (as directed on the pack) Whip 2nd amount of cream to medium peaks Make anglaise Whisk in peanut butter. Whisk in gelatin . Cool over ice bath to body temp Incorporate whipped cream Pipe into medium sized dome molds Enjoy|
BOLLYWOOD TO HOLLYWOOD HIGH TEA
It is serendipity at work. We are luxuriating over high-tea and patisserie in this iconic Hollywood landmark. Not only is over eight decades of Hollywood history distilling itself in this “Prettywoman” hotel but each one of my companions are interlinked to it. This is the very first hotel that Our very own Bollywood and Hollywood star Kabir Bedi made Beverly Wilshire his “Home away from home”. He stayed here when he moved to Hollywood in 1977. He not only won over audiences as Sandokan in his Italian TV series but also wowed Hollywood by his roles in James Bond’s Octopussy, The Bold and the Beautiful and shot many more films in Hollywood. He is In LA as part of his whirlwind nine city concert tour (he plays sutradhar). Along with him is his talented son Adam Bedi who is an expert on special effects for Hollywood films and his lovely wife Melissa, an expert on makeup for Hollywood. As though all these Hollywood connections are not enough, Kabir is also the very first Indian on the Oscar Academy jury and he applies his discerning taste this evening too. Like me he has many a sweet teeth. But what about calories? I ask him. “Oh! Calories must be worth having and Chef Ford’s are more than worth having. They are Oscar worthy” he concludes. I couldn’t agree with him more.
The glamorous Oscars just made headline news.And I’m here in this very same historic hotel (just opposite the Dolby theatre where the ceremony was held) where the Oscar celebratory party was held. In fact it was here in The Hollywood Roosevelt that the very first Oscars were held in 1927. Helming this hotel is our very own young and dapper Akshay Bahl who has honed his skills in many a leading hotel world over. It was wonderful to get to know more about the luxurious menu that the talented Chef Thomas Adam Mali created for the Oscars, while the everhelpful, abstract artist extraordinaire Bre Smith explained all the details. Please take a look at the photograph. Ive shot it by the pool where the legendary actress, Marilyn Monroe lived for over five years. It was here by this very pool that Marilyn Monroe shot her very first ad. It was for a sun tan oil Tropicana and now this bar and pool itself is calledTropicana. We raise a toast…with the Marilyn punch, ofcourse. Should you need the recipe please firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m on a foodie pilgrimage… from Lima (the rocking capital of Peruvian cuisine) to Machu Picchu (citadel of the ancient Incas) to Mexico city (Latin Americas restaurant awards as jury) and now in Los Angeles (the glamour and film capital of the world). Here I dine in three landmark symbols of Hollywood. Wolfgang Pucks Spago (superb) Chateau Marmont (pedestrian food) and the crowning glory is the dinner at the all new art-deco BLVD, the ultimate winner of a symbol of Hollywood dining, which bristles with starpower and the brilliant French chef Thomas Bellec’s Mediterranean magic with Californian produce. Voted top “Power Tables” … Wall Street Journal, ironically enough it is in BLVD that I’ve had salad with Priyanka Chopra, muesli with Anil Kapoor and steak with Javed Akhtar. Today I dine with Super achiever Sunil Perkash ( producer of Hollywood Blockbusters, including SALT with Angelina Jolie and Enchanted with Amy Adams.) This Stanford graduate, gourmet at large also cooks up delicious biryani. Also a Stanford alumni, the talented Scriptwriter Anjali Vithayathil’s is currently working on another western with Sunil. Joining us, is well-traveled gourmet, the dapper Ben Trodd, who has led many a hotel to win awards and spearheads, Beverly Wilshire, the “pretty woman hotel” and iconic Hollywood landmark.
P.S My starpower dining continues,thanks to Michalene my foodeditor friend of Robb Report, we’ve just got a table at the mega-celebrity chef Curtis Stone’s three month old “Gwen” . Should you need information about LA restaurants, please instagram, tweet or mail me at email@example.com
“Ireland se aaya mere dost, dost ko salaam karo”. A couple of months ago, our very own rocking Irish House (the largest one yet) set up in Andheri. More than a year ago, the first of these Irish triplets was born in Phoenix Mills, followed by Kala Ghoda. Ive eaten and “happy houred” at all, also given a thumbs up verdict as we did in our latest Andheri checkout. Richard Koszarek is famous for his steaks, pork chops and beans, while Amrita’s mutton pickle is legendary.
The well-traveled foodie couple Amrita and Richard Koszarek not only spend a lot of time in London but Richard particularly enjoys the pubs there. They say Yes! to The Irish House.
Everything in this predictably themed, wooden-decored space is larger than life; from the expansive, high-ceilinged hall to the TV screens. Brick walls with trademark Irish house posters (take time to read them Beer Ladder, the Whisky Wall, Beer Kegsand thePost Box, Community tables…you name it.
FOOD & DRINK
Large (that word again) portions of deep fried fare (be it the blistering chilli poppers oozing cheese, or the fleshy mushrooms crunchy with pine nuts) is tasty. On recommendations from (@mihirsagar @dina_bshah @harpr iya_kohli
@abbas_974@thebombayfoodie) I try the Chicken tacosBeer Can Chicken cordon bleu and Grande nachos, pail of Popcorn et al . Chicken tenders are better in Kala Ghoda but otherwise all the rest of the fare satisfies.Well-stocked bar, with 42 types of beer from across the globe (draught beer is served in Kegs & Towers) Richard recommends the Erdinger wheat beer and Stella Artois. Try the innovative cocktails (Irish Trash Can, Irish Car Bomb)
The oven was not working the night we were there so Richard couldn’t get his Steak ‘n Kidney Pie. Too many deepfried, overdone starters. The large wedge of oversweet Irish Chocolate Torte and the Kahlua Mousse were avoidable.
Packed, bustling and vibrant…Ive checked out all three Irish Houses at different times of day and night.Each time, I found that when the high-ceilinged space is sufficiently crowded, it has a lived-in, age-softened feel.
And when most of the generously portioned dishes appealingly complement the atmosphere, it hits the sweet spot. No gourmet flashes, it’s mostly a mix of pub stalwarts comfort foods at comforting prices. Happy hours ( 5 to 8pm ) add to the happiness. Want a cheery, beery, noisy time ? (age no bar) this way please !
The Irish House, 1st floor, Fun Republic, Opp. new link Road, Andheri (West) 61046161
Open, 12 noon – 1am
RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 4
Meal for 2: Rs 2000
A TASTE OF EMMYCITEMENT
I’m eating and drinking Emmycitement…er excitement. Here, in Hollywood, this glamorous land of eternal sunshine, the air is so thick with excitement over the high-voltage Emmy awards that I could slice it and pop it into my cocktail glass (which I do too). And its evident through all my eatingsbout (from the Voltaggio brother’s “Ink” Nobu’s first ever restaurant “Matsuhisa” to the king of chefs Wolfgang Puck’s “Spago). But it’s in the iconic rockstar “Sunset Marquis” where for over 50 years not only have Emmy, Grammy, Oscar winners, legends (including our very own Bachchan family) stayed but their bar manager and actor Tony Nuncio has been making waves in Hollywood with his latest creation of the cognac based cocktail “Breaking Dad”. Not only does it celebrate the Emmy winner of 2013 of the same name but also George Rosenthal’s love for cars and his son. Bacon and seasalt popcorn compliment the drink and Im excited to be in Los Angeles on the night of the Emmy awards!
P.S. Ive been overwhelmed and overjoyed by your response via instagram posts to my request to #dinewithrashmi. Im so sorry that Ive been away so long and unable to keep my promise. Will surely do so as soon as Im back.