This is it. It doesn’t get more mind-blowingly creative than this. Or more exciting. Or more international. I’m with a wild bunch of globally acknowledged geniuses in the breathtakingly beautiful Upper Austria mountains. The superstar chefs have flown in from all over the world, be it Rene Redzepi of Noma (Copenhagen) David Chang of Momofuku (New York) Virgilio Martinez ( Of central, Lima) May Chow of Little Bao Hong Kong, and a dozen more. Equally renowned artists, musicians, scientists, thinkers have flown in from all parts of the world. And we’re about to get a taste of innovation and creativity.
Is it about food? Is it about music? Art? It’s all this and more. Its “Gelinaz.” The curators Andrea Petrini & Alexandra Swenden are, in essence, ’agit pop’ curators of a culinary hub that is pushing boundaries.
It’s a world wide think tank of avantgarde chefs performing food and remixing each other’s dishes like in a DJ set giving form to culinary happenings where art, music and cuisine fusion in unexpected and improvisational ways.
Its an amazing space, where food is not just cooked but performed, boundaries pushed, new cultures discovered and knowledge exchanged. All this while zooming in on the beauty of nature.
P.S. The dress code is an unusual one, “Leave your high heels behind but bikinis and bathing trunks could come in handy, since being an outdoor event, it’s advisable to drape some cashmere too.” I’m all set. Oh! The joy of being a food writer..
I serve you a taste of Russia’s magnificent history and cuisine and with it a peek into our Prime Minister Modi’s most recent abode in the stunning St Petersburg. It’s awesome. It is Russia’s largest most beautiful Presidential suite and this is where our very own Prime Minister Modi stayed last month. It sprawls under a dramatic domed gold-leaf ceiling, has its own grand lobby and antique Carl Schroeder grand piano too. Two bedrooms, a private fitness centre, kitchen and this antique rosewood dining table under the magnificent handblown crystal chandeliers where we shot the photograph. In the past 142 years of it’s history, it has played host to global superstars, Hollywood movie moghuls, presidents and royalty. Bill Clinton, Whitney Houston, George Bernard Shaw and many more. The great Russian composer Tchaikovsky (my all time favourite) honeymooned here in the Belmond Grand Hotel Europe. This most iconic landmark has been witness to the history of the stunning St Petersburg. Its Neo-Baroque and Art Nouveau building is now classified as a historical monument.
RUSSIAN VEGGIE WOWS
It is here in this icon that I get a taste of Russian history, art, culture and food. Here is the surprise…also vegetarian food. Which of course would please our very vegetarian Prime Minister to no end. The multi-talented Chef Ian Christopher Minnis ensures the finest gourmet dinners here. He also oversees the amazing plethora of restaurants here. From St Petersburg’s most gastronomique L Europe restaurant (serving authentic Russian masterpieces) to the legendary caviar bar to the new Asian restaurant Azia which also serves some Indian dishes and has an Indian chef Dev Kathait. I do a tasting of their Asian vegetarian (including delicious dal, kababs and tandoori) in Azia. And request them for a second taste of the most amazing creation of pumpkin dimsum and he is kind enough to share the recipe of the very traditional Russian Borscht soup (pure vegetarian). Chef de Cuisine Larisa Kordik conjures superb dishes (tandoor, steam and wok cooking techniques) and Ekaterina Vasiljeva not only helps translate but also coordinates everything seamlessly.
Beetroot 160 gms/ Cabbage 120 gms/ Onion 20 gms/ Carrot 30 gms/ Vegetable Oil 50 gms/ Vegetable Broth 800 gms/ Tomato Paste 15 gms/ White Wine vinegar 5 gr/ Sugar 25 gr/ Black Pepper 0.5 gr/ Bayleaf 0.5 gr/ Lemon 5 gr/ Garlic 10 gr
- Clean & cut carrots, onions ( julienne ) and sauté in vegetable oil.
- Add cabbage as well, ( the cabbage should be cut into julienne the same way as the carrots and onions. Gently sautewithout color to the vegetables.
- Add tomato paste to the mixture, and gently saute a little further until it is not bitter.
- Blanch the beet root in the skin until it is fully tender
- Peel the beet skin and shred through a food processor, or Slice in thin long strips, (Keep beet juice and add to soup just before serving.
- Add vinegar,vegetable broth, stir and stew. Add the bayleaf& shredded beet root. mix
- In 5-10 min till ready, add salt, sugar and spices.( lemon and garlic)
- Do Not boil hard as the color will disappear.
What better place to learn about and do a caviar tasting than in the home-country of this supreme epicurean pleasure? And even better in Russia’s only caviar restaurant, Caviar Bar & Restaurant, which serves only the best caviar with ice cold vodkas you won’t find anywhere else in the world. And I am fortunate to do so under the tutelage of Russia’s only full-time vodka sommelier and most knowledgeable caviar master Alexander Dmitriev.
Their menu boasts 15 types of caviar, 12 Dom Perignon vintages, 35 types of vodka and 15 varieties of distillate.
What is caviar? Interestingly, like only sparkling wine made in France’s district of Champagne can be called champagne, only fish eggs produced by the sturgeon fish can be called caviar. Russia’s been eating caviar since before the 14th century. The real black caviar comes from the sturgeons ystick. And this large fish (the biggest is Beluga) lives in the Caspian sea, Siberia and Sakhalin .
Caviar differs in colour texture and size depending on fish AND how it is produced. I learnt all about the production methods of production and preservation(which determine the taste and price of caviar)
Am dazzled by the types of caviar black caviar…sturgeon/ albino caviar from an albino sturgeon. Sturgeon fish family…Beluga fish is the biggest (oldest prehistoric fish) and has the biggest grains. Oscietra fish (16 types) Sevruga Sterlet (smallest grains) and Bester are the main varieties.
I taste the finest caviar, it is creamy, has a fishy flavour, of seaweed and even walnuts. It is intense creamy and not too salty. Is non pasteurised and made by the traditional method. I do a vodka and champagne pairing with it too and end up sipping and tasting Russia’s history in its grandest historic landmark…Belmond Grand hotel Europe.
Foodie-ism is the rocking new “ism” of our times. Even highfalutin fashion brands have jumped in to set up restaurants and hotels. I’ve dined Dolce Gabbanas Gold (humdrum except for the gold bar dessert), Armani (worlds worst Caesars salad), great swimming pool in Bulgari (London), a Gourmet stay in Palazzo Versace (Gold Coast). So when the jet setting glamorous gourmets and real estate tycoon couple Anurag and Meera Bhatia invited me to Italian fashion czar Ferragamo’s recently opened “Il Borro” it became worth my while to stop in Dubai just for this dinner. Loved the sleek, glamorous Tuscan bistro and it’s traditional Tuscan flavours, snowy buratta to the salt baked fish, crisp vegetables (all flown in from Ferragamo’s gardens of Il Borro in Tuscany). Mukesh Luthra, chairman of his beauty and wellness global empire, sparkled the evening and we raised a toast to his birthday. With Ferragamo’s “Il Borro” wine of course.
Here in this definitive showcase of London’s latest and most exciting restaurants, India is shining. In the lush and sprawling Regents park the bi annual “Taste of London” has awarded the seven month old “Jamavar” restaurant the “Best of Taste” award. This fine dine Indian restaurant has been wowing London with Chef Rohit Ghai’s menu which serves up delights from the Royal kitchens of the North and South Indian fare too. Cyrus and Pervin Todiwalas Café Spice Namaste (London’s 22 year old popular restaurant) is drawing crowds. The Todiwalas also continue to raise funds for the needy, support sustainability and fight food waste. It’s a delight to catch up with my old friends and rockstars of the culinary world and to meet the Michelin starred Luigi Taglienti of Lume Milano too. Most of all it’s the flavour of India that thrills. Be it the brilliant young Samyukta Nair’s “Jamawar” or the Todiwala’s “café Spice Namaste” which hosts “khadrass or the Greedy pigs club”, a Gourmet showcase for India’s Parsi heritage. Indeed a yum “Taste of India” in the “Taste of London”.
The two month old Candy & Green brings vegetarian carbon free dining. It promises “fit fresh and fun”.
Read my detailed review on https://whatshot.in/mumbai/candy-and-green-is-all-about-fresh-and-fun-food-r-9759
My mission to sniff out the finest vegetarian food around the world continues. And even here, in “the worlds most stylish restaurant” in Palazzo Versace, (the worlds first fashion branded hotel,) I’m dazzled by the parade of sophisticated and delicious vegetarian dishes. I love the transcendence of Italian design which shines through the marbles and mosaics, vaulted ceilings hand-detailed in gold. And equally amazing is chef Dayan hartell-Law’s mastery over flavors and textures. Including that over our very own Madras Onion and curry powder which is elevated to stratospheric heights Finedining gets redefined. Juicy watermelon, crunchy radish and fingerlime morph in the most refreshing ceviche. The humble potato is elevated to a gourmet status as it is paired with kombu, the fleshy portobello and the flavorpacked porcini. As does the vivacious and beautiful Jasmine Webb. We raise a toast to Versace serving up style as well as substance…and we do it with a sorbet, in a Versace cup of course!
P.S Should you want Palazzo versace’s Madras onion dish recipe please email email@example.com
Stop press. Our very own Indian Gaggan Anand is blazing global headlines. His Bangkok based restaurant is crowned “Asia’s best” and seventh best in the world. I write from the high-octane excitement of the high-ceilinged historic Royal Exhibition hall, Melbourne. Here the worlds most prestigious, glittering Oscars of gastronomy The worlds 50 best are in progress. The air is crackling with excitement and every square inch is bristling with culinary star power. The hon’ble minister of Tourism Steven Ciobo, several other dignitaries and the worlds most celebrated chefs have flown in. For the past fifteen years, The Worlds 50 best been a mega force and credible guide to global gastronomy and to gastro-tourism. It is helmed by the dynamic Charles Reed and powered by the dream team of Tim Brooke Webb, Helene Pietrini and William Drew. They’ve held the awards in Melbourne for the first time and Australia is playing magnificent host, with it’s fabulous food and wine. I am getting high not just on Australia’s spectacular produce and restaurants but also on Gaggan being crowned the seventh best in the world. Jai Ho!
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.