Tuesday, December 13, 2011


While many restaurants try to reinvent the meal with foodie fads and slick decor, these dining experiences mark a renaissance…With a rich history that bespeaks passion, perseverance and dedication.


LOCATION: Magnificently stands where the Champs-Elysées meets the Avenue George V and is a remarkable construction recalling Paris’s most spectacular architectural legacy.
HISTORY: This legendary restaurant has been linked to cinema for decades. Sound came to the big screen in the thirties and stars such as Raimu, Marlene Dietrich, Gabin and directors such as Carné, Clouzot and Guitry all signed their contracts there. In the 1950s, the new wave, embodied by Truffaut, Godard and Chabrol, made it their stomping ground and even organised some awards and ceremonies here.
AMBIENCE: Acquired by the Lucien Barriere Group in 1998 and fully redecorated by Jacques Garcia, it is now, more than ever before, an enduring symbol of French cultural life and is a reflection of the Lucien Barriere Group’s and Desseigne-Barriere family’s commitment to the world of the big screen.
MUST TRY: Roast chicken with steamed vegetables and mashed potatoes, Grilled Steak with béarnaise sauce and chips, Salad with king crabs and quinoa, drizzled with vinaigrette, Traditional Milleufeuille pastry.
Hotel Fouquet’s Barrière - 46 avenue George V - 75008 Paris
Reservations: + 33 (0)1 40 69 60 00


LOCATION: The setting is quaint, along a medieval row of restaurants that line the Plaza Mayor, Madrid’s Main Boulevard.
HISTORY: Once a small Inn where muleteers and traders saw the culmination of their productive journeys which together with the surrounding streets assembled most shops of the town. In 1725 it was restored with a firmly built oven, decorated with exceptional tiles, where the wood of the evergreen oak gives that special taste. It is the oldest restaurant in the world and they have a Guinness book of world records certificate in the restaurants front window to prove it!
AMBIENCE: The Botin experience takes you behind closed doors on a guided visit of the restaurant’s history and its anecdotes. One can view the kitchen with clay ovens, where they cook suckling pigs even now. Visitors can peek into the Bodega and the room where Ernest Hemmingway sat to write.
MUST TRY: Segovia mushrooms and artichokes with Iberian Ham, Roast suckling pig, Roast chicken, strawberries with fresh cream.
Calle De Cuchilleros, 17- Madrid. (Spain).
Reservations: 91 3664217/ 91 3663026


LOCATION: This yellow wooden beamed tavern next to the church of Our Lady lies on the main market place.
HISTORY: A former cloth maker’s guild house built in 1532 was bought by Vincent Richter; Colonel of the Royal Army bought in 1873.
AMBIENCE: The interior is still in medieval style, walls adorn rare antiques and the furniture is original making history retain a living presence in a manner virtually unparalleled by any other wine restaurant in whole of Germany.
MUST TRY: Wild rabbit and bacon wrapped plums, mushrooms of the season, grilled fish, Quarkkeulchen (made from dough containing mashed potatoes, quark cheese, eggs and flour, spiced with cinnamon) and House wines by the Vincenz family.
12 An der Frauenkirche, Meissen, Saxony, Germany
Reservations: 035-2145-32-85


LOCATION: A short stroll away from the shores of Strangford Lough.
HISTORY: A coaching house with a licence dating back to the late 1600’s, it was bought over by the McConnell family in the 1890’s for almost a century and used as a working farm. Ronan Sweeney bought it in 2004 and is currently the Managing Director of Balloo Inns Ltd.
AMBIENCE: The ground floor which is bistro style houses an old range oven used by the Mc Connell family which is still in working order today and is an historic centrepiece. The first floor is plusher and fine dining.
MUST TRY: Dry aged Irish beef steaks, fresh local sea-food, Lamb stew, Fish and chips.
1 Comber Road, Killinchy, Newtownards BT23 6PA, Northern Ireland
Reservations - 028 9754 1210
Web: www.balloohouse.com


LOCATION: Away from the busy urban Hong Kong, close to the Stanley Bay, you can easily find your way here.
HISTORY: In operation since 1933, a traditional remnant of a bygone era, it is the only authentic teahouse left in the city and gets its name from the Tang dynasty poet Lu Yu, who wrote the legendary ‘The Classic of Tea’.
AMBIENCE: Captures the elegance of the art deco period with creaky black ceiling fans, quaint wooden booths, ornate wood panelling, mirrored seating’s, marble table tops, rosewood furniture, brass spittoons, and framed scrolls on white walls.
MUST TRY: Chinese sausages and fish dumplings, Deep fried chestnut and duck meat pie, sweet and sour wanton, barbecued pork bun and Bo la, (a fermented black tea)
24 Stanley Street, Hong Kong
Reservations: 25235464


LOCATION: On eastern-most Ward’s Island, between the lakeside wooden boardwalk and a manicured city park with the only access by ferry makes this still and timeless spot a relaxing getaway from the city.
HISTORY: Built in 1948, it is known to have survived the municipality’s cottage demolition blitz, and housed the minister who presided over St. Andrew-by-the-Lake church at Centre Island; which later provided the place with its current moniker.
AMBIENCE: Tastefully hidden behind curtains of greenery in a nineteenth century rectory converted into a chic glamorous café and patio. The interior is a good mix of hardwood floors, antique dressers and panoramic windows. On a summer day it is difficult to find a place in the outside patio under towering pine trees in a wide green lawn overlooking the Lake.
MUST TRY: Ontario Chipotle Bison Burger, Crab cakes, Pulled pork Panini, Moroccan chickpeas and New York style cheese cake.
102 Lakeshore Ave, Ward’s Island, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Reservations: 416-203-2152
Web: www.therectorycafe.com


LOCATION: located Uptown, off of St. Charles Avenue. Its exterior is painted a stunning blue-green aqua colour welcoming all passer-by’s.
HISTORY: A landmark in the Garden District since 1880, it has been run by the legendary Brennan family since 1974, and in 1996, it won the James Beard Foundation Award as the most outstanding restaurant in the country.
AMBIENCE: The spacious dining rooms are polished and reflect and encompass the lush outdoor settings of the property. The interiors are bright and open with an enchanting and full of life ambience that embraces both fun and sophistication.
MUST TRY: Gumbo, Turtle soup, Caribbean shrimp salad, Pecan crusted Gulf fish, crispy soft shell crab and corn and creole bread pudding soufflé.
1403 Washington Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
Reservations: (504) 899-8221
Web: www.commanderspalace.com

By Rupali Dean
Published in The Man Dec 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Kenya is the most popular country in Africa to us Indians through literature and films. Nairobi has always been the base for the wild life lovers. As for me, one of my agendas was the local food as arguably the best place to eat is with the locals.

The cornerstone of a Kenyan meal is “Ugali” which is quite similar to the Ragi balls in India, difference being that Ugali is basically corn meal starch…rest all is mere accompaniment. Meals are a communal affair with Ugali surrounded by fragrant stews, vegetables and spicy relishes. The stew is characterized by chunks of meat, potatoes, and carrots and other small vegetables boiled down with a few spices. “Sukuma wiki” is the most popular vegetable in the Kenyan diet, sliced thinly it is usually stir-fried with onions and tomatoes. My favourite however is “Mahamri Na Mbahazi”, basically a pocket of freshly fried, sweet and spicy batter, into which a delicious concoction of coconut cream coated beans, is stuffed in. To wash it down, you would have either “masala tea” or “kahawa tungu” for the coffee addicts! These staples are available anywhere and everywhere, from sit down restaurants to food stalls across the country.


“Githeri”, “Mukimo” and “Irio” are the top three dishes in Rural Kenya. “Githeri” is a mixture of boiled beans and soft maize, and is usually eaten on its own, though some people add some fried brown onions with tomatoes, garlic, green chillies and fresh coriander, and toss it up with the mixture to create a yummy dish. “Mukimo” is an interesting mash mix of potatoes, spinach, pumpkin leaves, and maize pounded together. I recommend adding some green chillies to enhance the taste. “Irio” is mash too of boiled beans, potatoes, cabbage, maize and one can toss in some fried onions and black pepper for taste. All these dishes make a perfect combination with “katchumbari”, a delicious salsa like salad.


The most successful restaurant in Kenya is Carnivore. Since it opened its door in 1980, it has hosted over 2 million customers and has twice been voted among the world’s top 50 restaurants. On offer are all kinds of meats running the gamut from Ostrich, Crocodile to camel char coal roasted and carved at your table replete with accompaniments!

And I discovered in Kenya that wherever you eat, the country’s passion for food is infectious. As a local said to me “When there is happiness in the stomach, there is happiness in the heart”!


• Nearly all of Kenya’s tribes boast a specific meal as their very own staple food.

• The ingredients used to prepare a dish are fresh, very cheap and easily used to make a quick meal.

• Common vegetables include kale, spinach, cabbage, tomatoes, beans, potatoes, avocados and other leafy greens.

• Beef and goat meat are the common meats served at mealtime.

• Tropical fruits such as mangoes, oranges, pineapples, bananas and pears are cheap, plentiful and popular.

• They are avid tea drinkers.

• Tusker, a Kenyan beer, is the relaxing beer of choice for most locals.

• Adventurous meat eaters can also indulge in safe wildlife game meat, such as crocodile and ostrich, served in specialized restaurants.

• Game meat is rarely eaten in Kenyan homes.

Published in HT City By Rupali Dean

Friday, October 28, 2011


Foodies like me can’t help but marvel at the most sensitive palates and the diversity and abundance of food available in France. That said it’s also because in France chefs are not only respected but worshipped too, so much so that even streets are named after them! The cuisine certainly belongs to its chefs who are constantly improving upon the past resulting in professionalism par excellence.

My first trip to Paris a few years ago, had left me gawking at every pastry window, thinking one required super natural powers to make such perfect gems, after graduating from a cooking school , I realized it’s not that difficult after all! Interestingly during the second empire, Jeanne Souchard, Ernest Laduree’s wife and daughter of a famous hotel-keeper in Rouen had the idea to mix styles hence the café and the cake shop gave birth to “Laduree” one of the first and finest Parisian tea rooms. The menu runs the Gamut from Traditional Croissants, Pretzel, Sandwiches, salads, and short crust pastries to the best Macaroons in town. At “Dalloyau” too, the pastry chefs make pastries that look like jewels and taste like ecstasy. Macaroons are a specialty here with flavours like velvet-black currant, liquorice, raspberry, lemon, morello cherries to name a few.

Foie Gras (pronounced fwä-grä) aka French for ‘fatty liver’ is a rich and buttery gourmet delicacy made from the liver of a duck or goose. For the French, it is not just a familiar ingredient, but an intricate part of the historical and cultural heritage of the people. Pate with Melba toast accompanied with Solera sweet wine from the Champagne region makes a winning combination. You cannot talk of French food and not mention the cheese, the most popular being the delicate and salty Camembert which tastes best with the Baguette (France’s best bread!). My personal favourite cheese however is the reach creamy and flavourful Boursin, absolutely stunning and tastes great with almost everything.

It is no secret that one of the best cuisines in France occurs in some of the finest wine regions. In Champagne, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Provence, Touraine, the wine is as common in the cooking process and is cheaper than water. Interestingly in 2010 Atout France published a survey that concluded that being accommodated at and sharing meals with winegrowers are top of the wine-tourists priorities after wine, visiting wine purchase, cellar and museum visits and exploration of landscapes.

Indeed Gastronomy is an integral part of the French cultural heritage as much as the arts!


• Exploring France involves all your senses.

• Not stuck in its ways, but focused on modernity.

• A new generation of chefs are making their own passionate, original and flavoursome cuisine.

• Bistronomie is the latest concept.

• Know-how and tips are passed down from mother to daughter through the generations, maintain the tradition of “eating well” with the family!


France is the first country to be honoured by UNESCO for its national food and cuisine. In order to honour this living heritage of French Gastronomy, “Fete de la Gastronomie”, a food festival has been created which will take place on the first day of Autumn each year across the country!
Published in HT city

Tuesday, October 18, 2011




Arab food has always enticed the foodie in me and my chef husband for it sounds really exotic, so when we learnt about Indigo’s (low cost no frills airline) incredibly low rates on their inaugural flight to Muscat, we smartly planned a trip. Omani cuisine is different across the various regions and is unlike the traditional dishes of the other Gulf States. A daily meal includes a variety of soups and salads which are usually based around fresh vegetables, smoked eggplant, tuna fish or watercress.

Our first stop that night was the Bin Ateek, which is a great restaurant for those who appreciate culture and tradition. It has a few floors, divided into private rooms, usually named after various places in Oman. Every room has its own TV and air con. Guests are seated on the floor, and food is brought on large traditional round trays to be eaten community style, just like at the home of any Arab. We literally ordered all the specialities on the menu. The star of the show was the “shuwa” which is lamb cooked for up to two days wrapped in banana leaves in an underground clay oven while marinated in herbs and spices such as red pepper, garlic, cumin and coriander. Being surrounded to the south and east by the Indian Ocean, the “Mashuai” made for a great choice, this fish is spit roasted and served on a bed of lemon rice is decadent to the core. Another indulgent dish is “Maqbous”, a saffron flavoured rice dish cooked over white or red meat. The other native curry dishes, based on various meats such as beef with green beans and potatoes or spicy fish in lime and coconut milk do not disappoint either.

Dates have a significant presence amongst the Omanis and are valued for its social, religious and agricultural value; one would come across fresh juicy dates all over the country. “Lokhemat” aka deep fried cardamom flour balls, served with lime syrup; make for a traditional sweet ending. And to complete the meal, you cannot leave without trying a deep rich kahwa which is strong and bitter and flavoured with the ever popular cardamom. Another popular dessert is the halwa, a symbol of traditional Omani hospitality and is usually served in homes before drinking Arabic coffee. It is usually made by combining starch, eggs, sugar, water, ghee, saffron, cardamom, nuts and rose water from the Jebel al Akdhar in proportions and quantities known only to the skilled halwa maker, and cooked in a “mirjnl”, basically a large cooking pot used especially for halwa, for about two hours. This halwa can be preserved for more than four months without losing its quality.

All in all given the natural hospitality of the Omani people, one is left with no choice, but to try everything on offer!


• The main daily meal is usually eaten at midday, while the evening meal is lighter.

• Main course has rice as the main ingredient, together with cooked meats.

• Breads rage from the plain to those flavoured with dates, sesame, thyme and garlic.

• Pork does not exist in the Omani diet as it is prohibited by Islam.

• Dining out options includes small coffee shops, occasional Lebanese or Turkish restaurants and roadside shawarma (shaved meat) stands.

Published in HT city


Friday, October 7, 2011



A robust combination of sounds and colours will light up your morning at the Mercado Central alias Central Market in true local Spanish style as I discover that Spain is a foodie’s haven and Valencia is no exception….

The market is known to have a surface area of over 8,000 square meters with over one thousand selling posts and is full of radiant stalls run by local vendors with fresh produce from near and around. In a section on the far side of the market are all the fish stalls with sea-food laid out on beds of ice. Fresh seafood is delivered here every single day. Interestingly the original paella Valenciana does not contain any seafood as it originates from the nearby marshes. Authentic paella consists of rice, saffron, garlic, chicken and rabbit. As you stroll through the scores of stalls, it is impossible not to be impressed by the selections displayed right in front of your eyes. One can find everything from fresh fruits and meat to a paella pan that serves up to a hundred people. It certainly provides a unique glimpse into the culture and flavours of the city. Tasting an Olive from a vendor or a sweet and juicy orange juice are unforgettable experiences. Obviously one cannot bring home the fresh fruits and vegetables but the Bomba rice (heirloom variety), the spices, and the special pans for making paella are delicious reminders of your trip to carry back with you.
An enormous highlight of Mercado Central would have to be the architecture. Built in the early twentieth century, now this art nouveau market is bathed in an abundance of natural light through coloured window panels and decorated with colourful ceramics and mosaics at every turn. The spectacular domed ceiling, with its sky high windows, is breath-taking beautiful. And the perfect place to buy local delicacies.

You cannot leave Valencia without eating the famed Valencian oranges. However much you might be tempted to eat an orange off the many trees in the city, be warned that they may look pretty but taste bitter and sour. Head out to an orange grove is a good idea if you must pick your own oranges. But at the Central Market you can indulge in all manner of absolutely fresh and flavourful produce.

Native to almost every Spanish household ‘Jamon Espanol’ is this giant, cured pig leg that is placed in its own special holder usually on the kitchen counter and is carved off whenever some ham is needed. If you are looking for something inexpensive then go for ‘Jamon recebo’, from pigs fed on a mixed diet. But the best and most expensive is definitely the ‘Jamon Iberico’, from pigs which have supposedly dined on nothing other than fallen acorns (bellotas) from the holm oak. You will come across many stalls of Ham at the market, offering this and Serrano as well.

For those who don’t know, ‘paella’ is not the rice meal, but the metal pan in which it is cooked. The shallow pans ensure that the rice is spread out well, and the thin metal guarantees a fine crust on the bottom. No one can pass up the array of iron and stainless steel pans at Ceramicas Terriols stall, where the owner also provides a recipe with every buy you make.

All in all exciting new food experiences will make your visit quite memorable!!

Perched high above the ornate iron and glass dome, its feet resting on a golden ball, is the Cotorra Del Mercat, the big green parrot that is the symbol of this market.

The Mercado Central was inaugurated by King Alfonso XIII in 1928.

Mercado Central de Valencia
Plaza Del Mercado, 1
46001 Valencia, Espana.
Tel: +34 963 829 100
Website: www.mercadocentralvalencia.es

Open Monday through Saturday from 7:30pm to 2:30pm.

Published in Imperia

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Humming away “It’s been a hard day’s night” whilst having a glass of “chateau Beaumont” along with my “Oven roasted Lamb rack” on my Emirates flight to Manchester, I thoroughly enjoyed my upgrade and was rejuvenated by the end of my journey. Indeed a perfect start to the Beatles town! It was the most scenic thirty minute drive from there to Liverpool.

 Next morning, I started my day with a visit to the Albert Dock, which is home to the “Tate Gallery”, which was quite unique and entry free, I took advantage and whisked through most exhibits but stopped to admire ones that made me slow down, the classics such as Warhol and Picasso. The “Maritime museum” was pretty amazing too though some of it saddened me as parts of it had a focus on how many Liverpool lives were affected by the sea and by war. The Docks also housed some of the best shops as well as restaurants and bars and I had a great time. I missed trying the Duck marine tour which seemed fun. It travels around the city then goes into the dock as a boat. The dock area looks even more beautiful at night, the old brick buildings all lit up by the Mersey River.
Later I also took a guided tour of the Liverpool Football Club of its famous soccer stadium and a visit to the impressive trophy room. Later that day, I encountered quite a few people wearing Liverpool football gear and established that there was a match on that evening at the Everton football club. It was quite infectious and I really wanted to go to the match. The main shopping area of the city was closed to traffic and the pedestrians streets allowed for a pleasant atmosphere when there with tons of people eager for the match. I'm not a big football fan but I do quite like Liverpool Football Club, thanks to my crazy cousin’s update on it all the time, and though this one not at LFC, I went as my cousin kept saying, “If you are ticking off the boxes of the things you have to do before you die, then watching a football match on the ground is right up there”, and I second that now.
There is an overriding tranquility that transforms football-watchers from stress-merchants into serene smiling beings in a stadium. There were Everton shirts and hats and scarves everywhere and a feeling of excitement in the air and I too was jumping on every goal Everton made (my cousin asked me to cheer for it) and finally we won.

Next on the list was the nightlife hopping, and I must add here that the culture capital of Europe is party central in the evenings with many different areas around the city for one to enjoy oneself in.
So first went to “Alma de Cuba”, a restored 18th century Polish church, on Seal Street, which has been converted into a lavish bar and restaurant, replete with the original altar and pews and flickering candles add to the beauty of the ambience. The place oozes upbeat Cuban, Latin American and Hispanic vibes from every pore of its stonework to its exposed wooden beam rafters and I thought it was an absolutely great place to begin my night. Though I admit at first I felt a wee bit odd at eating by the church pew, but was bowled over by the food and service which were impeccable. I have never eaten such amazing fish fingers with tartar sauce in my life….trust me!

We then hopped over to “Peacock” and being a Friday got to try some free BBQ as well. And finally moved on to “The Cavern Club” where the Fab Four have played atleast 292 times. It was in the basement of an old wine cellar along Matthew Street in the market district of Liverpool and looked like a cave inside, and people still perform there. For those who don’t know the Cavern was actually a bomb shelter at one point. I could not believe how far into the ground this famous club was but there are quite a few flights down. It was pretty much because of the Cavern Club that the Beatles became famous in Liverpool (well that and the fact that the local newspaper wrote a lot of stuff about them). Live music in the cellar was full of noise, made the air pulse and throb that carried a palpable excitement that got louder with each of the flight of stairs that descend into this venue. The place is rife with memorabilia, including John Lennon's guitars, signed posters, and an original Beatles drum set. We had a few drinks and listened to the house band performing Beatles music and very convincingly at that and we immersed ourselves in the music of decades past and as we jived, I relived the memories of my college days and my youngest cousin was amazed at the brilliance of the era, just after the birth of rock and roll! Iam positive someday this Beatles Tribute band’s claim to fame will also be the Cavern Club owing to the fact that The Fab Four has long been inducted into the history books, the band’s music survives, not only in software format but played live out here just like John, Paul, George and Ringo did back in their days. Interestingly “The Cavern Pub” right across from the Cavern features a musical museum of famous guitars and instruments throughout the venue. Truly if walls could talk, they would be screaming “oh yeah, what fun”, Them Beatles changed rock and roll and then the world and we went home humming “Strawberry fields forever”!

By Rupali Dean
Published in ET Travel

Sunday, October 2, 2011


If you are ticking off the boxes of the foods you have to eat before you die, then taking a flight to these destinations is right up there. This choice is indeed amazing and overwhelming in the world…do put it to delicious use!

The Irish have some of the best meals around in my book, and if you are a meat and potatoes kind of person who has been eating pasta instead, you better try this out. Traditional Irish stew is lamb with potatoes, usually prepared with carrots, leeks, onion, parsnips and rutabaga. For those determined to continue the rich Guinness flavour in their meal, one could go for the recipe in which some stout is added along with the stock for some true traditional Irish taste. Unlike other savoury stews the meat is not first browned and therefore the broth is not dark. Also do not mistake Irish stew is not Irish Soup. It is a very thick broth, and the meal itself is heavy and filling.

BEST WAY TO ENJOY: It is an excellent meal and great with Irish soda bread, sourdough bread, Guinness or black tea.

World renowned for their sweetness, size and extraordinary colour, as a result of the unique colour of the juice many bottled orange juices are made from Valencia oranges (also known as Murcia) because people love the bright colour of the juice from these oranges. Although now grown throughout the world, you can still not better Valencia oranges grown and harvested in their native soil. This is because Valencia has enough sunlight and well-drained and acidic soil.

BEST WAY TO ENJOY: Honestly they look too perfect to eat , but then the chances of them remaining untouched, once you see them, are slim indeed…

King of piedmonts’ gastronomy is undoubtedly the white Alba truffle, rare and precious, characterized by an unmatched intense aroma and taste! These truffles are sold at a high price tag throughout the European continent are generally the most sought after. Interestingly it is at times also referred to as the ‘Diamond’ of the culinary world, also because truffle is a seasonal product and it fruits only during the two autumn months. As they are to be dug from below the ground level it is not easy to hunt these tubers. Farmers use dogs that are naturally skilled to sniff well and make excellent hunters of truffles.

BEST WAY TO ENJOY: It is excellent to enhance the flavour of dishes such as fresh home-made pasta prepared in the old-fashioned way.

A panoramic westerly aspect over the gardens and surrounding jungle affords spectacular views- Don’t forget your camera.Every effort is made to find ingredients of the highest quality and have them delivered to the island as pure and fresh as they might have been served at their place of origin. Also I guess they benefit from the abundance of fresh fish available in the Maldives. The majority of vegetables are grown on the island itself. 100% of produce harvested from the gardens of Soneva Fushi is organic.

BEST WAY TO ENJOY: With the organic vegetable garden, Six Senses Soneva Fushi complements all menus with the freshest possible leaves and herbs.

Brugge a beautiful, romantic little medieval town, could possibly be described as a mix between Amsterdam and Venice, with many waterways and stone bridges Swans swim through all the canals and horses with carriages trot down the streets- it’s so cute! Belgium is famous for its chocolate and 'The Chocolate Line’ is known as one of the best chocolate shops in Bruges (if not Belgium). It does come at a cost but the quality and combination of flavours are brilliant. Every flavour imaginable seems to be represented in some way, even Wasabi which was fabulous. Additionally to pralines the chocolate line offers different kinds of chocolate from different countries from South America. One can find white, milk and dark chocolate with different amounts of cocoa.

BEST WAY TO ENJOY: The chocolate line does a variety of spice based chocolates, I particular loved the cinnamon one but they also had lemongrass, chilli all bringing out a complex and fascinating symphony to play on the taste buds.

These tasty crustaceans are almost Singapore’s national dish. You would get the best ones at Long Beach (on Dempsey Hill). This restaurant stands out from the numerous sea-food specialty restaurants dotting the city. Live crabs will be weighed in front of you and then taken in for cooking. Seeing you ponder how best to attack the shell, the waiter will promptly slid on his plastic gloves and deftly dissected it for you. The exact sauce recipe is a closely guarded secret, but usually it consists of garlic, ginger, fresh red chilli, honey added to a rich tomato sauce, finished with chicken eggs.

BEST WAY TO ENJOY: with steamed buns.

Made from unraised flour, the dumpling skins appear almost translucent. The broth is in gelatine form and when the dumplings are steamed, it becomes juicy and hot, pouring flavour into your mouth when you bite into its delicate, doughy skin. It is fun to watch the chefs make tons of dumplings through a big glass window and the dumplings even came with instructions which are rather helpful. One is supposed to poke a hole in the soup dumpling and drain the broth into their spoon, sip on the broth, and then eat the dumpling. All in all the dumplings are top notch, with the perfect ratio of meat filling and soup, and a super thin dumpling skin. These “Soup dumplings” (Xiao long Bao) at the legendary “Din Tai Fung” restaurant In Taipei are a must try. Although there many branches of Din Tai Fung worldwide, this original branch in Taipei cannot be beaten.

BEST WAY TO ENJOY: Steamed dumplings filled with pork or shrimp dipped in vinegar soy sauce; it makes me still pucker with joy just thinking of it!

The pancakes here are somewhere in between a pancake and a crepe, but delicious, very large, and come with a mouth-watering variety of toppings. On offer are all types of flavours you can choose from like strawberry, blueberry, apple cinnamon, chocolate and strawberry, etc. The savoury ones are with eggs, meats and cheeses. The star of the show however is the one with ham and cheese or try the one with chocolate sauce and whipped cream.

BEST WAY TO ENJOY: with a steaming hot cup of coffee.



Friday, September 30, 2011

FRANKEN- A Land of wine and food!

Located in the heart of Germany Franconia in the Northern Part of Bavaria offers a variety of dining and wining experiences and the best way to explore the region is by bicycle as it is a cyclist’s paradise too!

Blessed with a mild climate, fertile soils and sunny hill sides, wine has been cultivated in Franconia for more than 1200 years. The famous German poet Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe once wrote: “Too bad that you can’t pet this wine”. One is amazed at the variety of appellations in this region making all wines taste remarkably different. To get an insight into the history and stories a great idea is to experience it first-hand while taking a sunset stroll through the many vineyards. Interestingly the Bocksbeutel – the traditional, Franconian fat bellied bottle has been the symbol for over 250 years and represents guaranteed quality.

Down to earth, traditional fare is on Franconia’s menu, most restaurants offer seasonal, authentic and good quality meals paired with the right wine. The Franconian menu is meat heavy and typical dishes include ‘Schauferla’ aka slow roasted pork shoulder; Sauerbraten, roasted meat in a slightly sour gravy; ‘Zweibel’ which is ground meat roasted with an onion; and various sausages, which are served with side dishes like potato dumplings, Sauerkraut or slow cooked buttery potatoes and broth. They love their seasonal Mushrooms, ‘chanterelles’ are the favourite. A culinary highlight of a special kind is the ‘Schweinfurt Schlachtschuessel’ which is roasted suckling pig; generally ‘from the fatty to the lean meat’, are served on wooden boards, accompanied by farmhouse bread, sauerkraut, fresh horseradish, salt and pepper. Interestingly Germany’s fascinating cuisine makes it no exception to travellers led by curious taste buds. Guten Appetit!

You can’t come to Germany and only drink wine; Franconia too delights in beer and boasts many fantastic breweries. One of the evenings we took our dinner in a ‘traditional’ Franconian restaurant during which I sampled the famed Nuremberg Bratwurst which is indeed yummy and some beer that was described to me as “dark, strong and old Franconian” so I went with that… Also amazing!! Another popular drink here is beer mixed with lemonade, called ‘Radler’ , which literally translates into bicyclist and is for those who are thirty but do not want to wobble for the remainder of their cycling trip.

Having over 1,500 types of sausages, each city is sure to have at least one specialty.


Silvaner- Stands out for its elegant and refined flavour.

Riesling- High in mineral content, it is amazingly fresh tasting, spirited and has a great aroma.

Muller- Thurgau- Known as ‘Rivaner’, it is light, expressively fruity, elegant and delicious.

Pinot Blanc- With a touch of nuttiness and a refined fruity flavour, it is aged in wooden barrels.

Pinot Noir- Perfect match for any meal, the fragrance of berries enhances the taste.

Domina- owing to its mild cherry flavour, it pairs well with Mediterranean flavours.

Rotling- An interesting blend of red and white grapes, it is tangy, light, fruity and very summery.

Published in HT city

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


By Rupali Dean

In more than a decade of copious eating and generally curling our tongues around a hundred and one viands, most intrepid eaters and travellers have had such a surfeit of food that it would be a waste not to talk atleast about the world’s best BREAKFAST ones. This choice is indeed amazing and overwhelming in the world…do put it to delicious use!

A robust combination of sounds and colours will light up your morning at the La Bouqueria in true local Spanish style. The radiant stalls are classified by categories which run the gamut from the famed Ibérico Jamon to cheeses, candies, chocolates, nuts, cured meat, poultry, seafood and more. As you stroll through the scores of stalls, it is impossible not to be impressed by the selections displayed right in front of your eyes. And of course there are several eateries in it that serve foods from this market. It would be sad to visit Barcelona and not stop by at this market, fight for a seat at one of the stands and order something adventurous. Recommendations go all out for the “Crusty bread rubbed with raw tomato, drizzled with olive oil and topped with thin slices of ham”…decadent to the core! Another must try is the “Tortilla De Patatas” alias Spanish Omelette which paired with some local wine makes for a perfect toast to your visit to Espana.

Las Ramblas, Barcelona, Spain.
The market closes at 3:00pm so get there for breakfast or better yet, for brunch.

Bills has been the iconic breakfast stop in Sydney since many years and Chef Bill Granger swear most Australians is the undisputed King of Breakfasts. Granger became famous for his creamy and light scrambled organic eggs, served with crusty sourdough toast which are now a staple on his menu. Start your culinary sojourn with the sunrise drink, a smoothie made with orange juice, banana, yogurt and berries. The “Ricotta Hotcakes with Fresh Banana and Honeycomb Butter” are as delicious as they sound, beautifully light and fluffy, and the ricotta really works well in the hotcake. The honeycomb butter makes it even more enjoyable especially when doused with lots of maple syrup. Kudos also for the “sweet corn fritters” which are held together nicely without being too greasy with gorgeous roast tomato, spinach, and bacon which is smoky and lovely as bacon should be. The hot chocolate comes with Callebaut pieces that are to be stirred into the hot milk. It is crowded always, so reservations are advised.

433 Liverpool Street, Darlinghurst NSW 2010, Australia.
Tel: 61- 2 -9360 9631
Open Daily.
Timings – Monday to Saturday- 7: 30 Am to 3:00 pm. Sunday- 8 Am to 3 pm

It is none too traditional in its décor and has a very upbeat contemporary feel to it. The place aims to attract the well traveled and those looking for variety, set in elegantly cosy surroundings; it offers tasty treats with distinction. The restaurant scores tops on its unique breakfast buffet and is a joy to discover for jaded taste buds. Freshly smoked salmon with caviar cream is a special treat, as are the wondrously delicious local offerings such as congee, rojak, sambal prawns, beef Rendang and more. A must try is the “Teh Tarik”, which is Piping hot tea that is skillfully pulled from one cup to another, to increase its aroma and cool its temperature. Its great to watch the experts pound, stretch and toss the dough for “Roti Canai” (also known as flying bread) and then cook it to perfection on a griddle, best savored with meat, chicken curry or dalca (vegetable curry). If you are a soup lover go for the noodles soup with vegetables and seafood Nagasaki style. A cappuccino bar churns out special coffee. It sure is a balmy strip of foodie fun and the Breakfast with its many counters add a measure of gustatory refinement.

Crowne Plaza Hotel, Jalan sultan ismail, Kuala Lumpur, 50250 Malaysia
Tel: 60-3-21482322
Open Daily

There is more to Switzerland than just sitting in a cafe and drinking endless cups of hot chocolate. The Goms Valley in the Valais region has awe inspiring architecture and transport system and a visit to the top of the Eggishorn for stunning views of the Aletsch Glacier and breakfast is a must! The little train from Blitzingen to Fiesch takes seventeen minutes and the Fiesch-Eggishorn cable car takes you right up to “Horli Hutte” café ( 2,900 meters above sea level) , from up here, you can look down to this colossal wonder. The menu is not extensive but solidly Swiss with a few gestures to internationalism. Most unpretentious, it has long been a favourite for those who want good, wholesome food without frills and fancy and enjoy the natural wonder view. One can simply sit down at the trestle tables outside and enjoy a cuppa coffee and waffles topped with chocolate sauce. Inside the Café is very Alpine in ambience replete with a cuckoo clock et all.

Eggishorn, 3984 Fiesch, Switzerland
Tel +41 (0)27 971 49 19
Open Daily

Situated barely fifteen minutes from Amsterdam, you’ll find a recreation of the original atmosphere of an 18th century traditional village with windmills and the works. Fields of green divided by rivers, wooden green houses and traditional shops, it surely is a must visit. Start with a typical Dutch breakfast at De Kraai (literal meaning The Crow) a cafe at this museum village specializing in pancakes (Panenkoken). The pancakes here are somewhere in between a pancake and a crepe, but delicious, very large, and with a mouth watering variety of toppings. On offer are all types of flavors you can choose from like strawberry, blueberry, apple cinnamon, chocolate and strawberry, etc. The savory ones are with eggs, meats and cheeses. The star of the show however is the one with ham and cheese or try the one with chocolate sauce and whipped cream. The café also serves some very good omelets and coffees!

Kraaienpad 1, 1509 AX Zaandam, Holland.
Tel +31 (0)75 6156403
Open Daily from 10 Am to 5pm.

Nowhere else in the world can one find such an eclectic array of food! And the cleanliness of the place is a big plus. In order to ease your way into the experience, buy yourself a fresh fruit juice like a strawberry or mango fruit juice or a refreshing and sweet sugar cane juice ; sipping as you walk around looking at what to eat. Go all out for the chai tow kway alias the fried carrot cake. The white one is delicious but the sweetness of the black version which is cooked with a dark caramelized soy sauce is addictive too. If you have a big appetite go for the “Roti Prata” a savory crispy pancake dipped in fish or mutton curry, which surely would fill you up. Do not miss the “Hainanese Chicken Rice” at “Tian Tian”, the shop with the longest queue in the centre leading all the way around the corner! Also try the famed “Kaya toast” with half boiled egg…astonishingly decadent. “Milo Dinosaur” basically an icy malted drink is another must try. It indeed is the best way to sample authentic local favorites without forking out too much.

Along Maxwell Road
Best Way to reach is by MRT: Tanjong Pagar (EW15) and Chinatown (NE4)
Open – 8 Am until 11 pm.

Located just off the River walk in the French Quarter, getting your morning beignets (pronounced ben-YAY is French for Fritter), at “Cafe du Monde” is a cherished tradition. The menu here is fairly limited. Beignets, coffee and juice. Trust me; you would not need anything else when you can have the most delicious crispy yet cushiony goodness of fried dough, arriving in triplicates buried in a mound of tooth achingly delicious confectioners’ sugar. Aided and abetted by the bottomless cup of sweetened milky and nutty coffee which you simply cannot resist. The coffee is chicory infused so it has a unique taste that is truly New Orleans and is a must have with the beignet. Besides standing in line for a minimum half an hour early morning with tons of people, this place is awesome!

French Market, 800 Decatur Street, New Orleans, La, 70116, U.S.A.
Open 24 hours a day.
Closed 6pm December 24, opens 6am December 26
Tel: 504-525-4544

Tucked away outside the touristy track, this delectable eatery offers an amazingly unique experience. It is located on the grounds of an ancient Temple and combines as an antique store, a meeting place for friends, and a restaurant all in one. The place is rife with antiques galore from Burma and Thailand (for sale) and has a wonderful little garden area for outside dining. Most people lovingly refer to it as “Steve’s” (chef owner), simply because from the moment you enter and meet Steve you feel at home at once and know you’ll have a superb meal even though you do not know what the daily specials are going to be. From toast and coffee, waffles, eggs to Asian style, all is prepared in a delicious and professional manner. Steve’s version of eggs Benedict is more of an open-faced morning egg sandwich and two squares of good old American cheese top it off. Try the all-day breakfast special with eggs, bacon, waffles with sausages, maple syrup and pancakes…yummy!

4, Viangbua Road, (Opp. Viangbua Mansion), Chang Puak, Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Tel: 66 (0)84-8034366
Open for breakfast -8Am to 11Am.

An American style Diner with chic décor, chilled out ambience, impeccable service, great food and beverages make “Breakfast” a wonderful experience at Eggspectation, a 24 hour Resto Café. The longest live kitchen in India’s capital has the guests watching the Chefs exchange banter. Eggs remain breakfast mainstays and true to its name, Eggspectation has a menu with a selection of many styles of Eggs alone (approx 150), making the restaurant a one of its kind. Must try including the Eggs Benedict, the triple egg omelet and a lot more variety of “aanda”. Freshly brewed coffee like the Affogato, Mocha Nero, Freddo, Doppio, Caffe Latte etc, oven fresh breads and other confectionary, make dining here a total experience. For the Sunday brunch rather than a buffet each hot dish gets prepared a la minute straight from the kitchen when you order from the specially designed vast menu of more than 70 plus items. Surely the concept is eggeptional and eggtraordinary!

Jaypee Vasant Continental, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi 110057. India.
Tel: 91-11-2614 8800/4600 8800.

If you think you have found peace and tranquility on Soneva Fushi, then prepare yourself for the ultimate Robinson Crusoe experience. The bounds of civilization no longer exist and you can own the sandbank for the whole morning and experience the sunrise from the comfort of a rattan mat, sipping champagne, listening to the waves breaking on the shore, inhaling the fresh ocean air and discovering your sixth sense. The menus have many different options for taste and if there’s something special on your mind they may prepare that too for you. The Breakfast is purely composed from the organic grown island produce, Maldivian seafood, fruit and vegetables. The meat is incredible, the seafood unsurpassed and the fruits and vegetables that grow onsite with gay abandon beckon you to try more. A la carte breakfast specialties and to top this off, on offer is a vast selection of fine freshly ground coffee and a range of sumptuous teas….. Need I say more?

Soneva Fushi by Six Senses, Kunfunadhoo Island, Baa Atoll, Republic of Maldives.
Tel: +960 660 0304.

It is evident that it is named after the Hungarian born photographer Brassai, owing to its contemporary decor that takes its cue from the 1920’s era as black and white photographic prints line the walls. This spot offers diverse bistro style fare in a glorious courtyard patio. With an in house bakery and a familiar menu that satisfies every craving, this Resto has the recipe for breakfast success. Share your dishes as all are gratifying right from the Banana pancakes with apple and cinnamon compote, to eggs benedict with hollandaise sauce and the grilled sandwich with ham and gruyere cheese. All of theses items are delicious, well presented and efficiently served. Do not miss out on the lemon crime pastries and Mimosa’s!

461 King Street West
Toronto, ON M5V 1K4, Canada
Tel: (416) 598-4730.
Breakfast: 7:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

published in Swagat