London

TASTING THE VEGETARIAN ICON

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 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.

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DUCASSE’S WORLD RENOWNED COOKPOT…

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).

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 Alain Ducasse with Jean Phillipe Blondet  at the Dorchester (black and white photo by Pierre Monetta).
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 Chef Romain Meder with Francois Delahaye at Plaza Athenee.

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.

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By the Eiffel tower, sailing on the brand new Ducasse sur Seine
…Ines Aouididi flanked by Herve Garnier and Ulysse Bour.

 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 rashmiudaysingh18@gmail.com

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LATIN AMERICAS FOOD OSCARS

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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.

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Latin America’s best  Mitsuharu of Maido flanked by Tim Brooke Webb and Will Drew of 50 Best and the presenter Claudia Bahaman.

 

 

 

A TASTE OF ICONIC MAGIC

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When Gourmet tangoes with healthy and Tradition with contemporary, then magic happens. I’m getting a taste of it here in  London’s over a century old reborn landmark. Learning  not just “Model Pilates” (renowned science based  holistic method by fitness expert and author Hollie Grant) but also healthy recipes from her. Like the black bean poached egg dish she is holding. Not only do I kickstart my healthy day with it but also feast on the deliciously luxurious traditional high tea in The Mandarin Oriental on Hyde Park  with the dapper Frenchman Gerard Sintes who helms it. In fact it is here  too that the gastronomique legend,  Michelin starred “Dinner with Heston” is located. It’s  unique menu is inspired by British culinary history. And after revelling in the  Tipsy cake and Meat fruit (from the 14th century)  for dinner I balance it with the black bean poached egg  and cashew oat pancakes at breakfast.  Hollie has shared the recipes, Should you need them please email rashmiudaysingh18@gmail.com

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Hollie grant (holding the black bean dish) flanked by Gerard Sintes, Richie the doorman and Marie Norrington.

Chutney In The Crown

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I  like to call it reverse colonial imperialism…the culinary kind.

For over two hundred years the British ruled over us and now we have colonised their taste buds. Here in London, the latest to receive a double honour is the world’s oldest surviving Indian restaurant. Veeraswamy turned 90 together with the Queen and was invited to cater for a banquet in the Buckingham Palace (for a second time.) We have heard it is the only restaurant ever been invited to cater for the Queen’s party  in her own home. So when the golden hearted superachiever banker couple Deepak Parekh and Smita Parekh invited me for dinner to the highly awarded trailblazing restaurateurs Namita and Camellia Panjabi’s Veeraswamy, I dropped everything to dine in the elegantly modern Maharajah like room. We luxuriated in the flavours and textures of the Royal cuisines which retained their authenticity and yet had a contemporary swagger. A treat fit for a king…and queen!

The Worlds Most Awesome Restaurant

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No two ways about it. This is the worlds most awesome restaurant. Here’s a restaurant where the worlds greatest chefs fly in from all over the world, to volunteer and cook ONLY for the homeless and the vulnerable. And to do so they use waste materials. This is it. The ultimate and most heart-touching and transformative use of gastronomy. It takes within it’s sweep a fight against food waste in support of social inclusion, feeding the homeless and the vulnerable. It’s a non-profit organisation, its aptly named “Food for Soul” and is founded by one of the worlds greatest, most brilliant chefs Massimo Bottura whose mindblowing “Osteria francescana” was judged the worlds best restaurant last year. Lara and Massimo Bottura are blessed alchemists and their non-stop dedication to this selfless work is truly awesome. “Chefs have risen to celebrity heights,” Chef Bottura commented. “I believe we, chefs, can reflect these lights to illuminate the most pressing issues facing society today. Cooking is a call to act.” And sure enough they are using this in many amazing ways to change the world. I could write a book on those, but  due to space constraint have to limit myself to Food for Soul today.

THE AWESOME COMMUNITY KITCHEN

It’s a privilege and a blessing. I came to London, only to be able to volunteer as a part-time waitress in Lara and Massimo Bottura’s truly noble and innovative “Food For Soul”. They’ve set up this community kitchen and restaurant  Refettorio Felix to provide lunch from Monday toFriday for the homeless and other vulnerable groups from surplus produce supplied by The Felix Project. The aim is to serve more than 2,000 meals using five tonnes of recovered food. The community kitchen is based on Food for Soul’s highly successful Refettorios established in Milan and Rio de Janeiro opened during the 2016 Olympic Games.

It was a great experience to be in the beautiful and elegant Refettorio felix. It was set up in St Cuthbert’s Centre in Earl’s Court the historic community space underwent an ambitious six-week makeover by Charles Wainwright and Ilse Crawford. It is a beautiful space infused with art and design  and it brings a new sense of dignity to the table, showing how aesthetics and ethics go hand in hand.

More than 30 leading British and international chefs have already accepted the call to action from Massimo Bottura to cook in the Refettorio.  Michelin starred chefs Alain Ducasse, Daniel Boulud, Jamie Oliver, Ashley Palmer-Watts, Jason Atherton, Monica Galetti, Nuno Mendes  and many more turning surplus ingredients into a delicious menu. I was privileged to watch the brilliant and highly gifted Michel Roux jr and his daughter Emily (of the legendary Le Gavaroche) and Jonny Lake (of the iconic Fat Duck) in action. And on the day that I excitedly watch Georgio Locatelli (of the award winning Locanda Locatelli) the dynamic Charles Reed, chief of the  trailblazing Worlds 50 best restaurant Academy was also there to support this noble venture.

 YOU CAN BE A PART OF IT TOO

Following the month-long June festival, Refettorio Felix will continue to operate and provide a vital community service for years to come. With the support of Food for Soul and its partner, The Felix Project, meals will be prepared by two resident cooks with  assistance from a guest chef. If you are a chef and visiting London you can volunteer to cook for a day. Should you be visiting London and want to volunteer to help to serve or help out you can do so too. Reach out to info@foodforsoul.it

MASSIMO’s Breadcrumb Pesto

Here’s the recipe which maestro Massimo Bottura cooked up on the very first day launch of “Food for Soul” Refettorio felix.

Ingredients
Serves 4- 400g Artisanal dried Pasta (spaghetti)/ 1 garlic clove/120g fresh basil leaves (if you don’t have enough basil, use parsley, mint, and gentle green herbs – not rosemary )/ 50g  breadcrumbs /salt (1g)/100g grated Parmigiano Reggiano / 70g extra virgin olive oil (preferably chilled 3 hours)/ 30g cold water

Place the garlic, bread crumbs, basil and mint, and salt in a food processor and pulse. While the machine is running, drizzle in the oil and the water alternatively through the feed tube, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides. Transfer to a large serving bowl and stir in the Parmesan.Cook the pasta according to the package directions (al dente).

Strain the Pasta without rinsing, add the pasta to the bowl with pesto, stir gently and serve warm. Enjoy!

Food For Soul

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It’s a privilege and a blessing. I came to London, only to be able to volunteer as a part-time waitress in the worlds best chef Massimo Bottura’s truly noble and innovative “Food For Soul” non-profit project. Lara and Massimo Bottura are blessed alchemists: not only do they ensure that many a homeless and vulnerable is fed but do so by orchestrating the collection and use of wasted food. And here’s the exciting part, 30 of the worlds greatest chefs have volunteered and each one cooks daily. From Massimo Bottura himself to Georgio Locatelli, Jamie Oliver, Michel Roux jr and many more. They do so in the simply but elegantly decorated Refettorio Felix.

“Chefs have risen to celebrity heights,” Chef Bottura commented. “I believe we, chefs, can reflect these lights to illuminate the most pressing issues facing society today. Cooking is a call to act.” Admiration!

P.S. Already the brilliant Chef Vicky Ratnani has put a message on my Instagram feed and offered to cook here, should you be in London and be willing to volunteer to help or if you are a chef to cook then please do get in touch.

Review: Pizza Metro Pizza

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London. Bandra and now, the latest Pizza Metro Pizza has set up at SOBOs Kemps corner. Indisutrialist Jay Mehta and wife Juhi Chawla’s PMP distils the spirit of a Pizzeria. It is packed, noisy and brimming over with happy families.

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World’s 7th Best Restaurant: Dinner By Heston, London

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The Worlds 50 best restaurant awards celebrate extraordinary culinary talent providing an annual barometer of the greatest gastronomic experiences across the globe. I dine at the world’s 7th best, Dinner by Heston.

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Roc-ing and Rolling at Roka Mayfair, London

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ROKA is London’s award winning Japanese restaurant, serving contemporary Japanese robatayaki cuisine in striking yet informal surroundings.

ROKA brings its unique style of contemporary japanese robatayaki cuisine and its sophisticated design to Mayfair.

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