Kashmiri houseboats floating in a tiny artificial “lake”? An air conditioned one too. Picturesque and detailed, these are open only for dinner and come alive with fairy lights et al. In the afternoon, you get the same menu in the gleaming, small, handsome, marbled first floor restaurant.
Read my full review in today’s Bombay Times!
Is it possible? In one day, under one roof can I get a taste of the diversity, complexity and magic of Hong Kong? Yes it is when Hong Kong’s acknowledged best chef (and one of Asia’s top chefs) Richard Ekkebus wields his magic. In Hong Kong East meets West, classic weds contemporary, it’s gleaming glass and steel shopping malls jostle for space with fresh meat and produce markets along cobbled streets. It’s restaurant’s cape bustles with incessant energy and innovation. Fine dining and comfort food, dimsum and then some. Rising high in the throbbing heart of Hong kong, a slim, stylish skyscraper houses the Mandarin Oriental Landmark, two Michelin starred Richard Ekkebus is it’s culinary director. Here he wields his culinary magical wand with ease, panache and versatility. Please take a look at the two dish photographs. While one is the Asparagus dish from the pure vegetarian menu of Amber, the iconic best restaurant of Hong Kong, the other “Honkiedog” is Chef Ekkebus’s creation of a Hong Kong hot dog for the “Please Don’t Tell” bar on the ground floor of the same MO Landmark
Please take a look at the accompanying photograph of Amber, what you see in the background is actually a bronze chandelier that infuses the room with a golden, amber tone. Globetrotting gourmet who actively encourages Chef Ekkebus’s work, the dynamic and dapper Archie Keswick who helms this landmark is also a yoga aficionado. Here, in this golden Amber toned magical Amber I taste two Michelin starred Dutch genius Richard Ekkebus’s magic. The only Restaurant from Hongkong on the prestigious Worlds 50 best list and 3rd on Asias50best.
In this iconic golden-toned temple classical European culinary tradition tangoes with Hong Kong’s East-meets-West ingredient-sourcing possibilities, resulting in a deliciously sublime seasonal menu in Ekkebus personal style.
Of course I taste all is non-vegetarian signature dishes, but focus on his dedicated vegetarian menu. Vegetarian amuse bouche for all flag off the dinner Gems Of wizardry are served up as the four flavors Salty..(celery black bean caper soya sauce), Sour.. (lemon meringue at puree), Bitter (.and ice with campari and orange jelly), Sweet..(.jerusalem artichoke Tonka bean powder) kickstart my appetite
Beautifully presented Asparagus from Jerome hall’s in orchestra with peas and a medley of herbs is followed by the amazing parsnip which is chargrilled and every part of it is used in the dish and solidified extra virgin olive oil yuzu gel amaranth pearls add to.
The transition pre dessert of Buffalo burrata l strawberries cherry tomatoes refreshes as does the citrus dessert and prepares for the unforgettable. Cacao sorbet caramelized almonds salted caramel acidity of kalamansi which dazzles. Of course I did revel in his stunning non vegetarian dishes the signature Hokkaido Sea Urchin dish and also the Wagyu beef.
Love the sublime light contemporary notes that Chef Ekkebus orchestrates.
NO WASTE VEGETABLE COOKING
Kudos chef Ekkebus for using all parts of the vegetable. Like in the delicious dish of Parsnips, a masterpiece of textural contrast too. I request Chef Ekkebus for tips on using all parts of the vegetable at home. He advises making sure the vegetables are cleaned well and are preferably organic. Drying and frying the skin makes for a crunchy starter, be it carrots, potatoes, turnips. The skin of Tomatoes used in a broth adds a lot of color. Can make a dashi or infusion with vegetable trimmings.
PLEASE DON’T TELL
When the cult-status, speakeasy PDT from NYC opens in Hong Kong, what does the brilliant chef Ekkebus do? Creates Honkiedog for it. The hot dog which oozes with the taste of Hong Kong, the umami of it’s XO sauce of chilli, soybeans, seafood, and crunch of scallions and cabbage. And he does so with as much passion and gusto as he does when creating the parade of refined dishes in Amber. The talented and creative Adam Schmidt creates many a delicious cocktail and mocktail (including the cucumber based tuffnut tonic). Gladis young points out how this cozy bar with recollective design elements such as a copper bar top, herringbone-patterned wood ceiling and taxidermy adorning the walls is renowned for mixology, And making waves in Hong Kong is the edgy “Entertainment suite” party space with everything from a DJ booth to it’s liquid metal, spaceship-glow cabinets house popcorn, wine dispensers and other grown-up treats. And ofcourse, there is the spa with it’s yoga, pilates “The year of the earth dog” treatment, for sure the fusion of East and West has always been Hong Kong’s calling card, but here in the most expensive real estate of Hong Kong is an oasis of energised calm. A true Hong Kong Landmark.
Rejuvenation. Revival. Restoration. (Trumpets please!) Mumbai’s century old historic Royal Opera house after being closed for a six year renovation is now ( trumpets again!) alive and kicking and singing and cooking. And in all this, playing centre stage is the live music and the gracious venue, actually all four of them (al-fresco restaurant, a cocktail bar, café and jazz bar).
Read my full review on whatshot.in
This is the ultimate. It doesn’t get any better than this. Dining with nature, in nature, around nature gets redefined here. It’s a nature lovers gourmet paradise… and Im in seventh heaven. Sea, trees, forest, cave, stars…the worlds most unique dining experiences here. This Paradise is actually located on Thailand’s fourth largest but least populated island, Koh Kood – just one hour by private cessna plane flight south-east of Bangkok. Lers begin with the stars…
ASTRONOMY WEDS GASTRONOMY
Im tasting stars! Here in this remote and sensationally beautiful Thai island, many a magnificent dinner based on cosmic cycles and Biodynamic viticulture is redefining gastronomy. Do you see the huge telescope in the photograph? visiting astronomer and well-known scientist, Dr. Massimo Tarenghi used it to explain the relationship between the Cosmic/Lunar cycles and the pattern of water, earth, air and fire on our planet. Brilliant chef Kengo Tomita’ creates food to match these rhythmic cycles and the knowledgable beverage maestro Melroy Fernandes pairs it with unique biodyanamic and organic wines. As we dine on the lunar deck, time stands still in this magnificent back to nature Soneva Kiri surrounded by the shimmering Andaman sea. Love their philosophy of S.L.O.W.( Sustainable Local Organic and Wellness) life. And blazing global trails are the golden earted super achieverts Sonu and Eva Shivdasani. Their concept of intelligent luxury dazzles. It recognises the ability for luxury holiday making and care for the environment to co-exist with perfect ease. And here, its not just about serving up delicious experiences but also educating about the philosophy of Bio-dynamism and Sustainability. From identifying a marriage of food and constitution, counting the moons of Jupiter and peering at the graceful halo of Saturn’s translucent ring and dining accordingly… And my learning continues!
This unique Treepod Dining experience takes fine dining to new heights. Comfortably seated in a bamboo pod, we are gently hoisted high up into the tropical foliage of Koh Kood’s ancient rainforest. Along with the forever helpful Manjit Ghosh and creative chef Kengo, we gaze out across the boulder covered shoreline dancing with gentle waves, and we savour gourmet delights. And guess how these are delivered to us? Via the zip-line acrobatics of our personal waiter.
Ooh I love Picnics. And on a speedboat in the sparkling blue Waters of the Andaman sea it takes on a whole new flavour. Organic picnic lunch and refreshing juices et al. Can also rise and shine to a luxurious boat ride around the cove to view the spectacular sunrise breakfast of fresh breads, fruits, meats, cheeses and freshly brewed coffee too.
MUSHROOM CAVE LUNCH
Mushroom lovers (count me in ) this is your paradise. Unique private dining experience for specially designed around the resort-grown mushrooms. Dining in that beautifull silent mysterious cave while chef Kengo served up his masterpieces is an unrivalled treat..
The main dish is prepared in front of me and health and wellness benefits of mushrooms also explained.
P.S. Other than these unique dining experiences in nature…two other passions of mine are served up. Yoga and the finest chocolates.
My other favorite four letter word is yoga. This is my first flyingyoga session whuch I learn from dr Dinesh Singh after he does a clinical bioimpedence test and advises puriti. Juices. Liquids and an energising meditation work. And no! its not about denial If this isn’t paradise what is? Would you believe this? A chocobloc with premium chocolate room eat as much as you can AND totally free too. There is a “wall of ice cream” in a custom built glass freezer with over 60 flavors from the indulgent classics to the more adventurous. And the finest wines, rare spirits too… I do an educational and fun tasting with maestro Melroy Fernandes …but that’s another story.
It’s a mystery. Why does Mumbai have such few Thai restaurants? And this inspite of the fact that we (most of us atleast) get high on Thai (food ofcourse and massages too). So at the end of last year when Nariman Point started bristling with the sweet heat of Thailand and Izaya opened it was time to rejoice.
Read my full review on whatshot.in
Im on a revisit here. After a fortnight of shooting my TV show (several years ago, for ET Now) in France it was only this stunningly beautiful historic chateau in Epernay that magnetised me back again.
And since I’d already shot at the Michelin starred restaurant here, this time I dine at the resolutely modern setting of the brasserie Le Jardin which dazzles. It is a true emotional break for two Michelin starred Philippe Mille, here he plays the childhood memories card to our delight, casseroles, fancy combinations and the taste of superb local produce accompanied ofcourse by fine champagnes. Along with the charming knowledgable locals Edwige, Romain and Camille we raise a toast in the region of Champagne with champagne to the dynamic owner and many generations of Laurent Gardinier’s family who ensure that Domaine LesCrayeres continues to ooze French charm and character.
Happy surprise! Chef Aloo Aloysius Dsilva heads up the kitchen here. I’d dined at and enjoyed his cooking at many of his earlier restaurants including the last Villa Vandre.
Read my full review in today’s Bombay Times!
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 email@example.com
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.
Please take a look at the accompanying photograph (shot amid mountains, an hours drive from Paris.) I’ve shot it on this snowy morning after having just taken an invigorating dip in the outdoor hot Norwegian tub. Had a delicious organic breakfast (with the home made jams on freshly baked yeasty bread). It’s all part of “Echo” the philosophy of well-being which runs through it’s beauty and lifestyle organic products and food in Chateau de Sacy, this beautiful castle on a hill in the midst of vineyards. Chef Nicolas Christoforretti, infuses his cuisine with the culinary richness of the Champagne district. And the lovely Tiphaine Brossier ensures a seamless experience. I get high on this whole new aspect of wellness as I do on nature, art, history, culture and ofcourse champagne. After all I’m reporting from France’s Champagne district where not only is the king of wines and the wine of kings made, but where thirty three French kings were crowned in the UNESCO heritage jewel of a gothic cathedral. Sante!