Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Slipped away in Northern Germany, Hamburg, Germany’s second major city, has a character of its own and is well worth a stop on a trip around the country….
Fly Air France on Business Class, if you book in advance like us on www.airfrance.in/ you can get an extremely good rate and it also offers the best connectivity. Hamburg is effortlessly one of Germany’s maximum treasured destinations; Hamburg is a great place to spend at least two days.
Popped in the Speicherstadt, Hamburg’s old warehouse district is a complete world, in miniature. Inside one of the brick buildings lies the realm’s biggest model railroad system, containing of over 13,000 metres of pathway and rising steadily, with a projected final track span of about 20,000 metres in 2020! If you aren’t a model railway fan don’t let that overview turn you off, because this is not a usual normal model railway. In adding to a miniature Hamburg, divided over numerous floors are measure models of an imaginary city, Harz the Alps, Austria, the US and Switzerland. And one gets to them via the globe’s biggest model airport! The scale of the dwelling is difficult to convey, it is enormous and so much care has been rewarded to the detail. To enhance to the child-like miracle it appeared to stimulate in just about each adult in there, every few minutes the lights blurry and the flash lights of the buildings come on. The entire place takes on a novel aspect and pieces such as Las Vegas came alive. All the while the trains zoom around complete tunnels and below and above bridges.
EASY TO FALL IN LOVE WITH HAMBURG
You can’t be in Hamburg and not visit the Fish Market, a good idea is to go there right after partying in the Reeperbahn as it opens at 5 Am.The market in the district Altona is a large ethnic lure and many people come there every Sunday just to see; out here you can even dance to some live music to stir you up in these early hours. Germany is identified for sausages; Hamburg is unquestionably the place to go for marine fare. Though Schanzenviertel is the abode to go for cafe springing and consumption out, adjacent Karolinenviertel is where you would discover exclusive boutique shopping.Nonchalant homeware stores, indigenous fashion designers and peculiar bookstores are prominent. All in all, unusual neighbourhoods, a contemporary harbour district, highest of the assortment shopping and great sea food, I loved Hamburg. It’s a large city but a great to walk and each quarter has its individual exclusive charm and appeal.
During my city break to Hamburg I stayed at the Ramada a cool hotel quite near the various museums, shopping district and the central station. I would recommend Ramada if you want to enjoy all of this within walking distance. More importantly, stay at Ramada for the yummy breakfast! The city just senses more alive, like some entertaining might be just about the corner. If Hamburg isn’t on your incline of places to travel in Germany, it ought to be. You could be an antiquity buff, an ethos enthusiast, or a shopaholic, Hamburg has something for everyone.Open-air actions such as boat tours story deeply in most itineraries, but there are adequately of indoor lures for a rainy day, the chocolate museum, hop on hop off bus and the Audi car museum for example!
published in Statesman
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
It’s enthralling to get a close up look at numerous of the struts and enchanted articles that were used in the film, the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London located about 32 kilometres north-west of London is a must visit incredible experience even for the spontaneous fan of the film sequence who would like to learn more about how movies are made. For grave Harry Potter fans, there purely cannot be a more dreamlike way to spend the day…
HARRY POTTER MANIA
Fortunately for me I happened to fly from Delhi with Virgin Atlantic at a time when it is celebrating 25 years of entertainment and for those who do not know Virgin is the first airline to introduce inflight entertainment, hence this year they are celebrating it with a season of film themed activity! In the build up to being the official airline of the new ‘Harry Potter’ film aka Fantastic Beasts and where to find them obviously there were some Harry potter films to watch and I certainly made the most of it in my premium economy seat. I was equally charged up and excited to be attending a red carpet premiere at the London Film Festival of ‘Queen of Katwe’, a new Disney movie and attending the Festival’s Gala ball. I have been to London several times before but never to the Harry potter had studio…this time my mind was made…I simply to check it out!
THE STUDIO TOUR
Most general way to reach the studio is by a taxi, but I would recommend taking the bus transport with Warner Bros which needs to be booked in advance. On reaching of course you will find a queue, because it wouldn’t be a Harry Potter attraction without a line up (this being one of the world’s most famous film franchises after all). Time spent in the entry queue passes very quickly as there is plenty to look at counting the flying car from Chamber of Secrets which is suspended from the ceiling and the ‘cupboard under the stairs’ where Harry was at the Dursley’s in Philosopher’s Stone.
Then came the fun part, once we had watched a quick film, we were led into a screening area for another, longer film featuring the key cast members aka Harry, Ron and Hermione as we all know them. This just builds your anticipation even further and I felt like a little child all excited!! Soon thereafter, we were in the Great Hall. Here I could see where they squeezed four hundred cast members in to film the Great Hall scenes; I loved looking at the original costumes, and even found out some fun trivia like the fact that they had to sew the children’s pockets to avert them from niggling in sweets when filming scenes….cutely adorable isn’t it?
Next, I walked around a diversity of dissimilar interactive displays and information in abundance. I don’t want to give too much away because you’ll be more excited to discover it for yourself, but let me just say there is almost nothing you won’t know about Harry Potter when you walk away from the experience.
Of course you will see concoctions class, the Triwizard cup, the Philosopher’s Stone, and lots more. The green screen rooms are great to experience, where one can get a fun picture snapped on a broomstick or in the flying car. Of course, you need to hand over some pounds to essentially walk away with the picture, else if you could try casting a spell over the cashier attendant. Then, there’s a well-deserved break in ‘The Back Lot’ where I stood at Privet Drive, saw the Night Bus, and the Hogwarts Bridge. Here I also found a large cafe and an opportunity to sit down with my Butter beer (one of only two places in the world where it can be purchased).
THE HOGWARTS MODEL
Refreshed I continued my exploration of round two. The rest of the tour features more of the sets and costumes.At the end of the tour, we were treated to a 360 degree view of the star of the show i.e. the model of Hogwarts crafted by talented hands was built on 1:24 scale by a large team of artists and squad members and was captured and heightened with digital special effects to generate accurate images of the school for the movies. At this point I got a little bit emotional; trust me walking around the model can be an overwhelming experience for diehard Harry Potter fans.
THE SHOPPING IS AN EXPERIENCE TOO
I was at the Studio Shop located in the lobby as I exited. Every conceivable Harry Potter souvenir was available in the shop including sweet treats like Chocolate Frogs and Bernie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, replica wands, robes, glasses, souvenir t-shirts and lots more. An interactive green screen experience in the shop also allowed me the opportunity to appear on pages of The Quibbler and the Daily Prophet or as a suspect on an Azkaban Prison wanted poster. As for me I was all ready to buy all the Gryffindor goodies my pounds could buy and live out of my fantasy of receiving a letter of acceptance by the owl.
Best way to Reach: Fly Virgin Atlantic premium economy which can give any Business class a run for its money with world class amenities and service at affordable rates and terrific timings and yes a great baggage allowance.
Log on to www.virginatlantic.com/in/en
Best Place to stay: Sheltered by an eight storey vertical garden, The Athenaeum is a family owned luxury hotel in an art deco building is a few minutes’ walk from Buckingham Palace and bang opposite Green Park.
published in Statesman
Thursday, November 3, 2016
There is a lot more to these destinations than surf, sand and sunshine. These are also some of the best spots overlooking water views to enjoy a terrific meal and these dining suggestions will have you reaching for your knife and fork.
THOMAS STREET EATERY @NOOSAVILLE , AUSTRALIA
Other parts of coastal Queensland have comparable natural lures but Noosa stands apart because it gets the food right too. After a day well spent surfing, kayaking, boating or bushwalking, and you have worked up a real appetite; Thomas Street Eatery might not be too fancy but has one of the best views in town. Grab a table overlooking the beach and enjoy a cold brew or two. It is perfect for drinks and a nibble to eat when you are not in the mood of getting all dressed up.
THE PINK ELEPHANT@BANDON, IRELAND
A great place to just chill and also take in the beautiful West Cork seascape View. A blackboard with a menu on it ensures that the menu changes every day depending on the freshness of the produce available. Highly Recommended dishes include fillet of steak with pepper sauce and a seafood platter for starters. The food is superb and there are plenty of side vegetables to go with it. To end on a sweet note go for a slice of Eton Mess basically traditional Irish Dessert consisting of a mixture of strawberries, pieces of meringue and cream… Decadent to the core! People also get invited here to sample the delights and celebrate the Bandon Food Trail, which comes with a free brochure highlighting the best places to visit, eat and stay in and around the gateway to West Cork.
RECTORY CAFÉ @ WARD’S ISLAND TORONTO, CANADA
The location is charming in itself, sitting comfortably on an Island, with the only access by a ferry. It gorgeously stands among greenery in a nineteenth century rectory converted into a chic café and patio. Reserve a table in the patio under the pine trees overlooking the Lake more so on a warm sunny afternoon. It is like being as near as you can get to a tropical paradise, balmy breezes at the patio make for a perfect setting. With an endless expanse of blue sky within reach, the restaurant takes its external tropical landscaping and warm interiors to the next level. Really intoxicating food! The menu touches on several cuisines including Turkish, Italian, Greek, Spanish and even Japanese.Moroccan chickpeas are delightful and paella though not quite a complex as that in Valencia is nonetheless very good eating with lots of seafood, meat and vegetables in grainy rice. Other specialities include the Ontario Chipotle Bison Burger and pulled pork Panini. Good cheeseboard and tantalising desserts ranging from luscious fruits to tiramisu and New York style cheesecake.
HERGETOVA CIHELNA @PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
Nestled in Prague’s most upscale location on the bank of the Vltava River overlooking the stunning Charles Bridge, this is understatedly elegant and beautifully spaced. The culinary essence of this eatery is traditional and authentic International cuisine with a strong creative element. The menu also features a simplified range of comforting Czech masterpieces using exceptional value elements which changes with the seasons. Antipasti are innovative, such as the ‘Grilled squid’ and ‘Foie gras pizza’ with pear chutney, aged balsamico and mache salad. Several ingredients like sauces and the breads are handmade giving the food a home-made, earthy and fresh feel.Save a little room for the heavenly ‘New York cheese cake’ with a nut caramel topping and blueberry sorbet…it’s delicious. From carefully engineered dishes, to impeccable service, the ambience is extremely stylish, and it definitely is a cut above the rest.
PONDOK FLORA@ PADANG, INDONESIA
Quite the draw for those wishing to find natural landscape backdrop to proceedings as this restaurant sits comfortably on a lake surrounded by paddy fields. The traditional architecture is exhibited through its design inspired by the collision of rustic simplicity and glamour. One can enjoy the beauty of natural daylight and lush greenery even from within the restaurant alongside feeding fish in the lake.
published in ET panache Travel
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Standing in que for my Media Accreditation at the Terra Madre press counter in Torino this year, I noticed an Indian looking girl ahead of me, talkative that Iam ( those who know me will vouch for that) , I asked her if she was from India? ‘I am an Indian but live in Canada’, she replied and as we got talking we connected on various levels including the workshops to attend at the Slow Food event to travelling for food etc. We exchanged numbers so to keep in touch and her tips to what to do in Modena came in rather handy for me (we are both huge fans of Chef Massimo Bottura).
Though we couldn’t really meet after that but were constantly in touch through Social media, discussing what we ate, where we travelled etc. No agenda…she didn’t want anything from me and vice versa…we just connected, thanks to Food! Just day before, she shared her new number and that she was back home after her travels and we both discussed many many food travel experiences and how ‘we itch to travel all the time’!
Then I thought of sharing this lovely girl’s story on my blog….Aman Doasanj and her mother ran a restaurant called ‘Poppadoms- Taste of India’ located at Mccurdy road in Kelowna, British Columbia. Interestingly they hired some chefs at their restaurant and when the mother daughter duo got them their permanent residency, they quit, so her mother and Aman went exploring mainly to the South of India for about 5 weeks to learn other regional cooking. ‘As a family business, you have to figure things out; so, when our chefs left, it was sink or swim’, shared Aman.
Her mom had a heart attack in January 2016, so they had to shut down the restaurant unfortunately; ‘It wasn't a life, when all you do is work. She’s alive and doing well! So, time to re-evaluate, food is how I heal, so that’s why I was learning more and writing about my experiences, starting from scratch again’, shares Aman. ‘So many good things happened to me on this trip to Italy, It was weird. But after so many years of hard times, it was an incredible feeling. Now to make that time count!’…says Aman.
Aman is a go getter, this Friday she’s having a pop up using stories from her travels to create a menu ( coincidentally I am planning do the same as well in the following year !) until she gets a marketing job. Even when Aman gets her job, which she will eventually, she will continue doing her pop ups to save up as Travel Money.
For Aman the idea is to make people smile. ‘Which is the point of my food memory project, and to get people thinking, not just eating’, she says. Her menu has four courses plus an amuse. There’s a meatball story. And she’s doing a kebab on a rice poppadom cracker and doing some tangy beet pearls (because pomegranate doesn’t grow in Canada), mint yoghurt etc. so, not a literal translation. She’s also doing a vegetable Tikki, but not telling anyone what it is all about until they are eating it. (I can’t share the secret too as yet, lest they read it!!). Another course is a fish inspired by a fisherman in Fiji. The finale or the dessert course is her grandma’s green cardamom rice pudding, but a saffron poached local pear, which is her twist. Aman’s grandma was the reason she started her project, to keep her memory alive ‘She used to tell us that ‘if you cook from your heart, people will come’, If I can make just 1 person think, then I can sleep with a smile on my face and know I made a difference’, adds Aman. ‘I soooo want to come for this pop up’, I said… ‘Will do one when you visit Canada’ Aman replied!!! Food connects and how, doesn’t it?
Aman Dosanj can be followed on @paisleynotebook
Today Aman's parents run a little farm to table food trailer in Kelowna plus a farmer's market
Aman Dosanj can be followed on @paisleynotebook
Today Aman's parents run a little farm to table food trailer in Kelowna plus a farmer's market
Discover the wondrous natural wonders & cuisine of these travel destinations you must visit…symbiotically with Safety! No one country is more unsafe than another…So go on…common sense is enough to see you securely around practically everywhere.
NICE IS NICE
Promenading through the dappled and meandering streets of the old town to get a feel for the city’s ambiance is one of the first things to do while holidaying in Nice. This district, with its mesh of slender streets and luminously blushed façades, echoes the insignia and panache of Sardinian architecture. Visit the Castel Hill, this park and its botanical garden offer a magnificent vista of the spectacular sea with the old town in the foreground.
Indulging in Cours Saleya, the most vibrant neighbourhoods, animated by its lively cafés and restaurants is worth taking the time to appreciate the pulsating colours of splendid flowers and get to know the native producers.
Do not miss the trying the famous Pan Bagnat, accurately ‘moistened bread’, aka a circle formed white bread around the classic Salad Nicoise. Also try the Pissaladière, onion tart with olives and anchovies, the ‘Socca’, a large crepe of chickpea flour, to be eaten tubing hot and liberally peppered and the ‘Fougasse’, Provencal bread fit to burst with vegetables. Also not to be missed is the ‘Place Garibaldi Area’, the Rue Bonaparte with the news coffees and the stores!
The city straddles the Bosphorous River with one side of the bridge being Europe and the other side Asia it certainly mixes and blends perfectly between the two; and the best way to visually explore the city is to take a cruise down the strait. The Topkapi Palace is grand and the museum pieces sensational; Blue Mosque is a global symbol of Turkey with the beauty emphasized by its gorgeous setting near the Marmara Sea. Just across the street is the Hagias Sophia Museum, which has functioned as a Christian church and an Islamic mosque over the centuries….again unquestionably stunning! A trip to the Grand Bazaar, cited as a shopaholic’s paradise in ‘100 Places to See before You Die’ is a must, stretched over fifty acres with eleven different entry points, and filled with jewelry, spices, carpets and food.
The Spice Bazaar is also a dekho if you are a foodie for your sumac, Zatar etc. Food wise, recommendations go all out from the fresh fish from the Bosphorous, pistachio Turkish delights, Pomegranate juice, local meat balls and olives of all tastes and colors and of course the Turkish coffee!. Interestingly Jam here means rose petal and quince, and when I say honey, there are typically assortments of diverse floral honeys to choose from. Cheeses array from soft feta to hard Kasar. Taksim Square is where the night life begins and has narrow alleys filled with unique bars and restaurants to choose from.
There’s more to Kathmandu than meets the overwhelmed eye, and a whole escapade anticipates you yonder the backpacking area of Thamel. The Kathmandu Valley is a paragon of Nepalese culture, and an imperative side of that ethos is its architectural heritage. Situated on a plateau across the Bagmati River Patan a beautiful little neighbouring city with its well conserved magnificent heritage and the antiquity of premium craftsmanship is a must visit. Don’t miss the momo’s when in Kathmandu, very different from the ones we get in India.
If you want to experience tranquillity and devour indigenous delights within a picturesque courtyard ‘Bhumi’ is the place! The Nepali gourmandise is categorised by its variety; as a cuisine Newari which is on offer here is intended to be shared and therefore, is very much favourable with clan style service. With lungs, bone marrow as well as great sekuwa, and chwoela on offer, Bhumi goes the entire buff; and yes for the less carnivorous, there is plenty on offer too like the Bara and Chatamari.
published in HT City
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
If you want to discover a food festival in the true sense of the word, then going for one organized by the Leela Ambience Gurgaon is an unbeatable experience for it’s not just one jaded ‘buffet’ in a section of the coffee shop, but much more than that!!
Celebrating everything from the festival’s cuisine ingredients to
creative new presentations, cooking lessons, live counters at the coffee shop, wine
dinners , a charity dinner and more this hotel boasts both a strong traditional
food culture and a plethora of activities that make the food festival feel like
a real food festival!! (I still can’t forget the Latin Food Festival they had
last year….miss you Chef Ramon Salto, Pablo Morales)
|The Chefs Team from Fullerton Hotel Singapore|
Just back from my London trip, the hubby took me to the Ambience mall for two of my favorite things shopping and eating and just as we were browsing a few stores on the ground level, I thought I saw a familiar face, I went up closer and it was my friend Chef Richard from the Fullerton Hotel in Singapore…LA!! And soon, I noticed many more familiar faces including talented Chef Neeraj Rawoot the brand new Executive Chef at the Leela , Chef Amit Wadhera and the team…I couldn’t resist and waited on to check out the making of the ‘Rojak’ and some other exciting Singapore dishes.Singapore food and the country have always fascinated and for those who do not know, a visit to Singapore is incomplete without visiting the Hawker Centre as there can be no better way to sample authentic local favorites without forking out too much moolah….so through this mall activity I could relive trying some of those ‘hawker’ style dishes.
|Cooking lessons ..Chef Bakshish Dean & Chef Richard|
And luckily for us, we got an invitation the next day for a wine dinner curated gorgeously by the charming Magandeep Singh and Karina Aggarwal duo. Chef Richard and Neeraj’s team did a fantastic job with the food which was superlative.
The star dish for me was the ‘Hainese Chicken Rice’ which Richard
did an exciting take on , the braised chicken leg was presented beautifully
with fragrant rice in it and the chilli, black bean soy and ginger accompanied
in a unique way, paired with a Corvina from Italy…simply stellar! Needless to
add that the wine dinner was a glorious affair and the Leela Ambience Gurgaon
team knows how to do it right!!
I was sharing the table with the extremely hospitable and charming General manager Michel Koopman, Nidhi Verma, Rajiv Kehr and his son Aditya, Sourish Bhattacharya who’s always a pleasure to discuss food & travel with, the CEO of Air Vistara and Chef Bakshish Dean of course!
To be honest we blended in so
well, that our conversations were not just getting over….till the time Michel (I
soooo admire his great sense of humor) said ‘Good Night guys have fun, I am
leaving and the hotel is sold out’ …and the table was in splits!! ( and then we split..:) )
|Super duper Chef Richard & the charming host Michel Koopman|
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Noma Australia, without doubt the most detailed, involvedly scrutinized, and adventurous restaurant ever to open in Australia. Much has previously been said about the $485 expense label (food only), that all 5500 seats vended in 90 seconds, that 27,000 stay waitlisted.
Finally the ‘D’ day arrived for my rock star moment at Noma Australia. Then it happens… As I entered a familiar face appeared in front of me, I was greeted by Chef Rene Redzepi (himself) and his team and it took me a few minutes to gather myself, to be honest I was literally star struck which was obvious for anyone who knows what a talented chef Rene is. I have been to Copenhagen but this was my first opportunity to actually see him in person!
On offer is a wine or a juice paring, I went in for the latter.My meal began with an ‘unripe macadamia and spanner crab’, a sharp and delicious broth bathing with crisp thin slices of the nut with a dash of rose oil. Next came the gorgeous looking tart bowl of native berries; lilly pillies, muntries, Kakadu plum quite like an appetite cleanser, followed by wattle seed wrapped in saltbush. Unbelievable and path breaking…delectable too!
I had to pinch myself as Rene walked towards my table carrying bowls of shells. ‘This is what we call the ‘Seafood Platter’,’ he says with the most innocent of smiles. ‘Here we have five types of shellfish, covered with the skin from chicken broth, and crocodile fat.’ He also shared that the crocodile fat comes from a farm where the crocs are fed only chicken…and then he heads back to the kitchen leaving us to enjoy the stunning and inexpressibly enjoyable platter of cold shellfish including pippie, mussel, strawberry clam, cockle, oyster capped with a fatty, secret sliver that is in one simple word just ‘wow’.
Redzepi is fixated most on fetching out new flavours from ingredients we’ve forgotten, markdown as weird, or reflect so ordinary they seem unfit of a tasting menu, anywhere he finds them. It isn’t a wonder why the inventive Noma, in Copenhagen, has four times been baptized world’s best restaurant, and that Redzepi has been at the frontline of universal notice in Nordic fare and foraging. For the Barangaroo pop-up he and his team of chefs have weathered the zone meeting people from the cities and the bush for home-grown ingredients running the gamut from snow crab plucked from 1000m beneath sea level off the coast of Albany, to magpie goose shot in a distant Aboriginal community outside Darwin. The outcome is a 12-course menu which is a masterpiece, a menu in which each course works musically with the next, all the senses clank and are soothed, the memory is heaved as challenging ingredients are wrought into imaginative offerings.
The vigour and assurance is exactly the same as Noma, Copenhagen, the produce range and visual of the place is like stepping into a new restaurant. The sweet-smelling Albany crab with egg and fermented kangaroo juice clues at scrambled egg.The wattle seed saltbush parcels are a nod to multiculturalism via a play on dolmades. What have been twisted are flawless mergers of the rare and the usual.
Where did you visit on your research trips?
· Noma Australia at Barangaroo, Sydney disclosed the menu for the sold--‐out ten-week residency on the 26th January 2016 and was open till April 2, 2016 . The restaurant, a partnership amongst Noma, Tourism Australia and Lendlease, Showcases some of Australia’s superlative and most remarkable produce with a strong emphasis on coastal Ingredients.
· René Redzepi, one of the world’s renowned and most esteemed chefs, and his Noma Team; have spent the last twelve months nomadic to every corner of Australia, taking In all states and territories, learning about innate ingredients, local wines and cooking Methods.
WHERE? Noma Australia, Anadara Building, Barangaroo, Sydney
my story first published in TLF magazine