Paris

The President’s First Love

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Michelin magic: Eric Frechon.

Past forty days, I’ve been on a foodie pilgrimage: Lima to Mexico city for Latin America’s 50 best restaurant awards (as regional jury chairperson) to Los Angeles and now am concluding it (fittingly enough) in Paris. Here too, I’m dazzled by many a brand new arrival, like Alain Ducasse’s Ore in Palace Versailles, Yannick Alleno’s “extraction” technique. However, my homage to Michelin starred Eric Frechon continues unchanged. I’ve yet to eat food  as impressive in its precision — and as gloriously wanton in its luxuriousness. I am an admirer of the intriguing ingredients Eric Frechon packs into one composition and coaxes into harmony, be it in his recently awarded starred Langham in London, 114 Faurbourg and three starred Epicure in Paris. It is  here in this exquisite Parisian palace le Bristol that I’ve seen President Sarkozy dine (in fact he still comes here regularly for macaroni, artichoke, foie gras) Chef Eric Frechon has heads of state, royalty and glamour squad eating out of his hands and all of Paris is abuzz with his new book, the last word on French gastronomy.

New, Newer, Newest.

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Ooh la la! She continues to surprise and seduce. I refer to the worlds most beautiful city, the global gastronomique capital Paris. I’ve been in love with Paris, past three decades and each time I come away more dazzled than ever.  Paris continues to serve up delicious surprises…here’s a snapshot of the latest to the greatest.

MOVABLE FEAST

“Movable feast” is what The famous author, Ernest Hemingway called Paris, And The Bustronome, the luxury bus-restaurant redefines it, literally. I not only enjoyed the mutli-course gourmet wine-paired unch while gliding past the most beautiful monuments, but was blown away by the hitech “audiopen” (when you point it to the map it has a  informative multilingual commentary on the monuments and landmarks). I raise a toast to the Eiffel tower as to this innovative Bustronome.

PALACE PLEASURES

In the already world famous, magnificent Place Versailles,  the UNESCO World Heritage classified, finest achievement of 18th century French art, two delicious surprises have been added on. The king of cuisine, the superstar chef Alain Ducasse opened his new restaurant Ore in the Place premises itself, opening onto the cour Royale.

A French inspired menu with classics, from light and quick snacks, desserts and gourmet pastries here.Plenty for vegetarians too. From the amazing vegetable tart to the light as a cloud soufflé. Chef Stéphane Duchiron dazzles. I not only walked through  this shimmering iconic landmark, but also went to the brand new “Costumes et Chateaux” where Clementine has the most amazing period glowns and coats, jewellery, wigs and shoes and dressed me up in them for an amazing photoshoot. A fun and fabulous memory.

BRAND NEW CAMPUS

Ooh la la, the iconic, 120 year old custodian of the French culinary tradiiton, Le Cordon Bleu Paris moved into it’s beuatiful and high tech sprawling campus (with a rooftop garden et al). It was awesome to attend the high-powered inaugural, last week  with more than 20 embassy heads attending it. Playing gracious hosts, the owners André Cointreau, Charles Cointreau along with  maestro Chef Eric Briffard and Catherine Bascet invited guests to embark on a taste journey (and wow what an amazing feast it was).

DINNER AND CABARET

Immortalised by poets, authors and artists, Paris’ oldest and most flamboyant cabaret Moulin Rouge gets a brilliant new chef David Lequellec. Along with the dynamic Olivier Villalon, we feast on the two hour wine-paired gourmet dinner before the cabaret begins.

A TASTE OF HISTORY 

Whoa! I’m not only getting a taste of the exquisite “De-light” cuisine but doing so in the historic room where film was born and the Lumiere brothers made their first presentation.Im in the brilliantly located and legendary Hotel Scribe Paris. It embodies the new Parisian hotel chic.”De-Light means maximum pleasure and minimum calories” explains the slim and lovely Beatrice Schopflin who helms this exquisite Paris landmark. It’s a joy to feast on gourmet cuisine, nutritionally-balanced and low-calorie according to the well-researched Quiberon principles. Chef Sebastien Crison ‘s cold beetroot soupEscabeche fish fillet, Patisseur Thimothée Gensse desserts are flamboyant works of art and flavor with a minimum of calories.

NOTE: Le Cordon Bleu and Hotel Scribe have shared their amazing recipes. Should you need them please mail me on rashmiudaysingh2016@gmail.com, instagram, twitter @rashmiudaysingh and I’l be happy to share them with you.

A De-lightful taste of history

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BEATRICE SCHOPFLIN, AND CHEF SEBASTIEN CRISON & LUMIERE BROTHERS PHOTOGRAPH IN THE BACKGROUND)

Inventive, flavorful, exciting. Whoa! I’m not only getting a taste of the exquisite “De-light” cuisine but doing so in the historic room where film was born. What you see in the photograph are the Lumiere brothers, who In 1895, having invented the first film projector, unveiled it to the public right here, where we are dining. 
”De-Light means maximum pleasure and minimum calories” explains the slim and lovely Beatrice Schopflin who helms this exquisite Paris landmark dedicated to Eugène Scribe,  the popular and prolific author of more than 400 plays. It’s a joy to feast on gourmet cuisine, nutritionally-balanced and low-calorie according to the well-researched Quiberon principles. Chef Sebastien Crison ‘s cold beetroot soup Escabeche fish fillet, Patisseur Thimothée Gensse desserts are flamboyant works of art and flavor with a minimum of calories.

P.S. Im feasting on Paris… from dining in Yannick Alleno’s three Michelin starred restaurant Ledoyan where modern French cuisine is being born, to unique dining and sightseeing in “Bustronome”. From the launch  dinner of Le Cordon Bleu’s new campus to the Indian buffet atop the Eiffel tower to launch Ranveer Singh’s new Bollywood film’s trailer…  but that’s another story!

A new masterpiece dazzles

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Sparkling surprises: Monica, Chef Marco and Quentin.

It’s new. Its making waves. It serves healthy and light and yet is setting a global benchmark in luxury. I have a mind-blowing taste of this new Mediterranean dining experience In Paris. It  is all about “harmonious cuisine from the heart” and this is served amid shimmering priceless Baccarat chandeliers, mirrors and Lalique crystal. Le George is located in the luxuriously elegant George V ( which partnered my book “A vegetarian in Paris…A Times of India publication).  Here, the dynamic young Marco Garfagnini (got his first star at age 29)  creates an amazingly balanced and healthy menu (plenty of vegetarian too). Not only am I over the moon with the dinner but also with forever fabulous Monica Eisen  and Quentin Garreau de Labarre. This new Le George more than lives up to the royal legacy it has inherited, after all it is born to the iconic George V, the hotel of kings and the king of hotels.

Superstar Time

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Maestro Chef Arnaud Poett and Valerie Muller at the iconic superstar hotel.

Oooh la la it’s Cannes film festival time and all eyes are on this superglamor, luxury drenched Hotel du Cap Eden Roc.

Over the past 140 years its been immortalized In films, books and poems. Every square Inch of this seaside, French Riviera hotel exudes star power and glamour.

What is even more exciting is that this hotel was set up (for writers seeking inspiration,) by  the founder of France’s Le Figaro newspaper, And so the likes of Scott Fitzgerald and  Ernest Hemingway  have stayed and immortalized it in their books.

I not only pay homage to Picasso in the cabana by the sea where he got his inspiration,but also have a memorable swim in the iconic heated salt water pool, cut into the edge of the cliff in 1914. Set among nine hectares of landscaped gardens and trees, this breathtakingly beautiful hotel pampers all my senses.

I get high on the gastronomique fare, from the vibrantly flavourful Provençal-style gambas to the freshest of Oysters, to the swirls of masterful desserts.

I raise a toast with the iconic Bellini (of course)to the charming Valerie Muller and the brilliant chef Arnaud Poett .A true culinary poet.

The President’s first love

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Three Michelin starred Chef Eric Frechon with Hayat Grif in Le Bristol, Paris.

Here, in Paris, the global capital of gastronomy, Michelin-starred chefs dazzle. Each one conjures pleasure. The three-starred maestro, author, Eric Frechon, knighted by President Sarkozy has been on the top of my list of favourites. I’ve been tasting his creations from the time President Sarkozy used to come from across the street for Chef Frechon’s creations. Elysees palace is located diagonally opposite the most exquisite Parisian palace, Le Bristol where Chef Frechon weaves his magic. Celebrating it’s ninetieth year this timeless palace has hosted Charlie Chaplin, Picasso, Ava Gardner, Woody Allen et al.

It embodies the art of French living, offers discretion and luxury. I have an amazing meal at it’s brand new cafe Antonia (dedicated to Marie Antoinette), cant stop pouring over Eric Frechon’s landmark book, but it’s the pure vegetarian five course meal in their three Michelin-starred “Epicure” that dazzles. Gems of wizardry explode with flavour and texture, artichokes with pink garlic chips. Asparagus glazed with walnut oil, powdered egg,black truffle and more. Our meal ends with the priceless Nyangbo chocolate sphere, with it’s gold gilded sorbet. This starred restaurant is worth it’s weight in gold.

Crème de la crème

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Olivier, Laure (centre) & Lucie with the Chantilly Cream

The bowl of cream you see in the photograph is no ordinary cream, it’s the stuff dreams are made of. It’s velvety, it’s silky, its Chantilly. It takes it’s name from the region or domaine of Chantilly and everything about this region is like a fabulous fairy tale. First of all (hold your breath) not only is Chantilly is located twenty minutes away from Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport, but  it’s also within one of the largest most beautiful forests of the Paris region. Im just about getting over these pleasant surprises,  when like in a fairy tale, the Chantilly castle  seems to rise out of the tranquil lake. I zip through it’s finest French collection of ancient masterpieces, (second only to the Louvre) and head for  the crème Chantilly  (made famous here, in the royal banquets centuries ago by Vatel.) Laure now makes Crème Chantilly here, in the picturesque cottage-like Restaurant du Hameau (in the grounds of the castle). Along with Olivier and Lucie not only do we eat up the creme Chantilly (with strawberries) but I also go back In a horse carriage (this is the equestrian capital of France) and in the luxurious yet cozy  Auberge du jeu de Paume hotel’s spa, actually have a chantilly cream massage. This is what I call, “having my cream and eating it too” . it sure is the world’s  crème de la crème!

PASSION FOR PASTRY IN LA

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PASSION FOR PASTRY

Why would  I, a dyed in the drool foodie be doing here in Los Angeles’ famed fashionable Rodeo Drive? This world famous glamorous designer boulevard continues to be the crowning shopping experience. Globally renowned for it’s luxurious high fashion, Los Angeles’ Rodeo Drive magnetizes the rich and the famous with its super luxurious clothes, bags, shoes and jewelery in it’s super elegant stores. But in my view,  None of that can compare with the luxurious patisserie that is igniting my passion. And this is what brings me here again and again.

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CROWNING MASTERPIECE

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It doesn’t get any better than this. I’m getting a taste of the most sublime “lemon tart” which is made to the same recipe for the past many centuries and I am doing so on the worlds beautiful city’s most beautiful terrace. And it is acknowledged to be so even by the perfectionist Parisians. It has a 360 degree panoramic  view of Paris and it has the city’s landmarks within kissing distance of each other. Please take a look at the photograph and you’ll see the terrace we are on, you’ll see the Eiffel tower right there, what you cannot see in this photograph is the other landmark of Paris, The Arc de Triomph (which is also within kissing distance.) This picturesque terrace is not only located between historic landmarks but also crowns one of the city’s most loved iconic landmarks, Hotel Raphael. Did I begin this paragraph by saying “it doesn’t get any better than this”? It does. Because with me is the fourth generation owner of the Raphael, the charming, well-travelled, dynamic Veronique Valcke

Baverez. Her family Baverez, since 1898 has been dotting the city of Paris with historic landmarks, Regina, Majestic and ofcourse Raphael.I not only get a first hand account of the history of Paris and Raphael but also the recipe of the most sublime”Lemon tart” .  Every last detail (from the cuisine to the plants on this terrace) is overseen by  Veronique and her mother. “My mother loves roses” points out Veronique as we inhale their fragrance and are surrounded by more than 100 kinds of flowers,. lavender, Japanese apple trees, Box trees. We sit under a snow white linen umbrella, the terrace has a refined floral atmosphere in a Belle Epoque style and right next to us is the giant marble chess board, a tribute to the founder Leonard Tauber, also the cofounder of the chess club of France.

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French elegance at it’s best, Veronique Valcke with her culinary team

 

SUPERSTARS SPARKLE

Movie buffs will instantly recognize the Raphael, because not only have many a super hit film (Love in Paris, Place Vendome been filmed here but many a film star has stayed here.) And this includes legends like Marlon Brando, Ava Gardner, Kylie Minogue.Statesmen, political leaders, academics, film directors, actors, writers have favoured The Raphael over all other hotels.

It’s not just the movie world, even the art world has been dazzled by the collection of original masterpieces here. These are normally housed in museums but find place of pride in The Rapahel. From masterpieces by Turner to those by Classical artists…Raphael is a mini-museum.  It even has origianl louis xv and xvi pieces of furniture, sofas, table et al.  The young patisseur Nina metayer bakes to the time tested recipes of centuries, Thomas Chagray cooks to classical ones too. Overseeing it all, is the vivacious Veronique who ensures that every last detail is a masterpiece. Like the Lemon Tart (whose recipe follows).

P.S. Interestingly,  the plot to eliminate a dictator was hatched in The Raphael and the conspirators were known as Raphaelites. I didn’t take part in any such conspiracy, but Ive succumbed to the Raphael magic and am also happy to be known as a Raphaelite.

 

Lemontart

 

Sweetdough

  • butter               300g
  • icingsugar        190g
  • almondpowder        60g
  • salt           1g
  • eggs         113g
  • Vanillapowder 2g
  • Flour                500g

In the butter, icingsugar, almond powder, salt, vanilla powder and flour.incorporate the eggs. obtain a homogeneous dough, keep in the fridge. Roll out the dough to 3 mm thick and place in the tart moulds about 1.5cm high on 7.5 cm diameter each. Bake  at 170°C

 

lemoncurd

  • Sugar                       480g
  • eggs                 500g
  • Butter                      400g
  • Gélatine                   3 leaves
  • Lemon zest              10 units
  • Lemon juice            10 units

Combine in a big pot lemon zest ( grate the skin) and juice.  Place the gelatine leaves in very cold water.. Mix it all, slowly little by little with a spatula. Keep in fridge. When its cold put the lemon curd into the pastry shell.

lime meringue :

  • Eggs white               200g
  • Sugar                       100g
  • Lime zest                 2 units

Whisk the eggwhites, add the sugar, add  the lime zest more delicately with aspatula.Garnish the lemon tart with a piping bag. Bake for a few seconds in the ovenjust for a little color