February 11, 2013

La joaillerie 2.0 !

Chers amis,

Ceux qui me connaissent bien le savent sans doute mais j'ai depuis plus d'un an maintenant laissé de côté mes velléités gastronomiques pour me pencher sur le sujet de la joaillerie en créant Gemmyo. 

Gemmyo c'est la première marque de bijoux sur mesure. Un site internet qui permet à chacun de personnaliser son bijou selon ses envies (bague en or rose, bague en or noir, pendentif en améthyste et argent ... peu importe, il n'y a pas de limites !).

Avec notre catalogue de 15 pierres et 6 métaux précieux, chacun peut s'amuser à créer le bijou qui lui ressemble le plus. 

J'étais ravie de partager avec vous mon amour de la gastronomie et du vin ; aujourd'hui je serai ravie de partager avec vous mon amour des bijoux avec Gemmyo ! 


September 6, 2010

"Summer ain't over cod carpaccio"

Everyone is back from their summer holidays and not always very eager to get back to work. 

If you want to extend your summer a little longer just try out this nice and easy cod carpaccio :
it's delicious and healthy and the mango/vanilla association is awesome to raise anyone's spirits when the weather is starting to cool down.

Ingredients for 2: 

1 medium Mango - ripe
2 small tomatoes
300 g of fresh cod (or any other white fish that can be marinated)
Vanilla extract
1 fresh vanilla bean
1 lemon
2 tb of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

How to do it: 

1. Peal the tomatoes and the mango. Then dice them.
2. Chop the mint.
3. Cut the fish in small dices and keep them in your fridge.
4. For the dressing: extract the vanilla from the bean, pour the vanilla extract, the juice of 1 lemon and the olive oil. Shake well.
5. In a bowl, mix the fish, tomatoes, mango and mint. Add salt and pepper to season (white fish always needs extra salt).
6. Add the vanilla vinegrette and adjust the seasonnng if necessary. Dress onto your plates.

Et voilà ! Enjoy !

Incidently I had fresh tomatoes from my mom's garden. That was the extra touch that made the difference.

August 29, 2010

How to taste sushi - this is not as stupid as it sounds !

How to taste sushi? "Just put it in your mouth !" most of you think.
Easy right?

Well, there is a difference between simply eating sushi and knowing how to enjoy it properly.

As I said in my previous post, sushi is an art. Japanese people are dead serious about it. When they eat bad sushi, they feel the same way a French person reacts when they taste a "pain au chocolat" made with margarine:

So today I am going to try to give you a few tips so that you are sure to know how to recognize what makes good sushi.

1. Try the tamago yaki (a slightly sweet omelet).

This is a simple and pretty radical way to know how the rest of your meal is going to be when entering a sushi restaurant. In Japan this simple sushi is considered one of the most delicate ones and it requires great skill to be perfected. If it is soggy and too sweet, either run out of the restaurant or be prepared to even more disapointed by the rest of the meal.

2. The second easiest way to know if you are facing a good Itamae is to focus on the rice: 

How does it taste? How does it feel? The rice should not be too soft nor too firm, and the balance of seasonings should be just right. If it’s too sweet or tastes of vinegar, you are screwed. Sometimes the simplest things are the most difficult to cook.
Rice the very foundation of sushi (by the way sushi litteraly means rice in Japanese), so you should be sure to watch out for it when eating out at a Japanese place.

3. Sushi is like wine: it is about balance

Inspect your nigiri-sushi (not the maki roll, the one with a little clump of rice and fish over it). In a quality establishment, you shoul not find huge hunks of fish on top of three grains of rice. Although this might seem like good value for money, it will destroy the proper balance of the meal. Japanese food is about discipline and craft, it is not about supersizing your food. For that there is McDonald's. 

4. Look for fresh wasabi

You know that green mustard? If you are lucky what you have in your plate is just plain horseradish with food coloring. If you're unlucky... who knows. 
Real wasabi - the fresh sort - is immensly rare. If your restaurant is a real deal, you should have a waiter come and grate you a little bit of the wasabi rhizome in your plate. I know it doesn't sound very appetizing when I say it like that but trust me, the taste is entirely different. Not nearly as harsh and strong, it almost has a nutty flavor. It's like comparing real parmesan and the canned thing you buy at your supermarket. It's just not the sae product. 

5. Look for interesting seasonal items

This is not really necessary but it may indicate that the sushi chef pays extra attention to the particulars of the foods he offers, and seeks out something when it is available and fresh. It will mean your food has not be stuck in a freezer for the past 6 months. 

These 5 little tips should help you out to know if the restaurant you are eating at is a true Japanese establishement.
Of course, I don't expect these requirements to be met in all the restaurants I go to but for the ones that I anticipate to be good, I make sure to look out for them.
But what a joy when I find the real gem that complies with all these elements!

August 26, 2010

Think you know real sushi? Think again. -- Wasabi restaurant by Chef Morimoto in Mumbai

I have been to several very good sushi restaurants in my life. A lot of them in the US, on the west coast. Some in Paris with a traditional Itamae (sushi chef) that came all the way from Japan.

But it was in Mumbai - of all places - that I tasted the best sushi of my life.

I had vaguely heard of Chef Masaharu Morimoto in the past.
On “Top Chef”, he is the champion for Asian cuisine.
As I am not a huge fan of media friendly chefs, I thought he was probably overrated.
Well I was wrong.

Chef Morimoto forgive me for my sins; since for me, you are now the god of sushis.

(Appetizer: rice ball in coconut and sesame sauce)

But what can possibly differentiate good sushis from great ones? 

Is it the fish? The rice? Or maybe just the wasabi?
After all, the ingredients are pretty standard… it can’t be that complicated.

Well it is.
Sushi is an art.
And once you’ve tasted this art at its climax, you will understand why I want to call my future son Uni (urchin).

 (Hot shrimp tempura - simply perfection in the form of a fried piece of dough. Who would have thought so?)

Tasting great sushi is the utmost decadent pleasure. Swallowing pure beauty without even chewing it.
It feels so good that it’s almost indecent.

At Mumbai’s restaurant Wasabi by Morimoto, sushi is art.
Service is perfect of course and the view on the gateway of India is magnificent. But nobody gives a damn.
The food is that good.

(A simple salmon maki. With fresh wasabi. Not that green paste Japanese restaurant usually serve you. And oh yeah: the fish is directly imported from Japan. Every day)

(Black cod in miso paste. Gorgeous). 

Chef Morimoto, thank you.
And please, come to Paris. 

August 11, 2010

A taste of France in Mumbai - Le 15 Pâtisserie

I’ve recently fallen in love.

I’ve been swept off my feet by the most unlikely little fellow.
Not Shahrukh khan or any other Bollywood star.
Not my cute 15 year old Indian pantry boy who takes pictures of himself in the mirror with my camera while I'm at work.
Not even the lovely little white dog that sleeps night and day on my door step and doesn’t budge when I step over him.

I’m a talking about love at first sight.
Or at first taste should I say.
The real deal.

I am talking about le 15 Pâtisserie.

Le 15 is a little shop in a hair salon right next to my house in Mumbai

I noticed it for the first time at the beginning of June and was very intrigued to see heavenly looking Lemon tarts and Macaroons on their stall.

It took me a few days to finally decide to try one of their products out – I think I was influence by the ^ on Pâtisserie. So French. So authentic.

And then it happened ; as if I lightening had struck me

Crisp and light, zweet and tangy, crunchy yet smooth.

It was the French culinary arts epitomized in a small unpretencious lemon tart.

It felt too good. 
So my boyfriend – who incidently is addicted to chocolat and has devoured no less than 5 le 15 Patisserie macaroons since I have started writing this article ("I'm just trying out the products honey", "yeah right") – said to me :
‘Pauline, we need to meet these people. 
I don’t know who they are, why they are here in Mumbai and if they are mean, ugly and stupid but I need to understand how it is possible to create such perfection. Here in India !’

So we wrote an email to le 15 and got to meet both Chef Mukul and Pastry Chef Pooja.

My boyfriend’s fears were unfounded though ;

They were even sweeter than their macaroons.

I really encourage anyone in Mumbai to try anything at le 15 Pâtisserie.

You cannot be disappointed. The only thing that might happen is that you develop a severe addiction.

Like me.

Le15 Patisserie,
Shama Hair and Skin Boutique,
 Krishna Building, Near Podar Hospital, 
JN Palkar Road, Worli

July 16, 2010

Why foreign women and wine have a bad reputation in India - Part 2

Now -or if not check this out - you know why foreign women have a bad reputation in India. The reason, basically, is ... Bob Dylan

But what about wines? 
Why is everyone so adamantly – and wrongly for that matter –convinced that Indian wines are disgusting?


Again. I know, it is starting to get nerve wrecking.
The city of sin has done it one more time.

The reason why Goa is at the center of the international despise towards wine is not because Hippies used to produce wine along their hashish plantations.
Neither is it because Saint Xavier and the Portuguese Inquisition viciously pored wine on the wounds of the poor Hindus they had just scorched.
The reason is much simpler. 
And not as entertaining unfortunately for you (and for this site’s bounce rate).

But first, let me take you through a little history:

Experts believe the grape vine was introduced in India from Persia around 2500 BC as wine is mentioned in the Vedic texts as Soma and Sura. Throughout the middle-ages and modern times, wine was the drink of warrior castes (the Kshatriyas), along with beer and other spirits made of wheat, barley or maize in the North and rice in the South.
The Mughal emperors developed and maintained vineyards in the Deccan region as did the British during the 19th century.
However, almost all of India’s vineyards were wiped out by phylloxera in the 1890’s. 

After the independence, the Indian Constitution strongly deterred the consumption of alcoholic beverages and imports were severely monitored. These principles were expanded with the graduate prohibition of imported alcoholic beverages throughout the country and the introduction of constraint licensing under the control of the Central Government.

Despite these heavy constraints some areas continued to produce wine such as the state of Goa where vintners used ‘Bangalore Blue’ grape to make cheap wines.

Now this is the interesting part for us.

Bangalore blue wine has the status of wine, it has its color, its alcoholic content and its name.
But that’s about it. All other similarities are pure fantasy. Some say even drunkards don’t appreciate it and that its sole purpose is to get you wasted. And it succeeds in doing it very nicely.

The problem is that Goan wine was basically the only wine available in India for 25 years. So of course people now believe Indian wine means cheap, yuky, undrinkable grape juice.

But that is far from the truth. 

As I explained it in a previous article about selling wine in India, Indian wineries have developed throughout the 1990’s and 2000’s and now produce some very decent wines. It all started out with Indage – known as Champagne India now – who built a first winery in the valley of Nashik in 1985. From then on, other players stepped into the wine industry and wineries continued spreading in the valley of Nashik, Maharashtra. There are up to 65 wineries in the state of Maharashtra today, producing Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Chenin, Zinfandel and even Viognier. 

I tasted wines I actually enjoyed very much here. Like Sula Dindori or Nine Hills Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. Actually, I was even surprised at the level of achievement of these wines. 

I'm not saying they are perfect but they surely are enjoyable with a nice curry masala dish. 

Here's one of my tasting note for Nine Hills, Chenin, 2009

Nose: nice fruity tanginess. Orange, passion fruit and pineapple. 
Mouth: the structure is really straightforward. The wine doesn't drop in the mouth, its crisp yet full and the length is good. 
Overall this is a very easy wine to enjoy. Perfect for beginners in wine drinking because the fruitiness is really appealing to the palate. 

So you see, its like I explained it in my previous article, there's a misconception about Indian wine. 
In the same way as Goan based westerners don’t walk about naked smoking hash and pot all day anymore, Indian wine is not the low-quality grape juice it used to be. 

Yet they still suffer the reputation Goan history has cursed them with. Shame. 

July 13, 2010

Why foreign women and wine have a bad reputation in India - Part 1

Ok so I’m putting women and alcohol on the same level. Sin and Sin again some may say. And sadly, India is not the only place where both are highly prejudiced.

But in India at least there is an underlying reason which explains it all. A vessel that links foreign women and booze. Three letters …

How did this happen? Follow my words…

As I do not want to bore my very few readers to death, I will divide this article in 2 parts.
Part 1 – Women

Goa has many names: city of sin, city of wine, city of the Portuguese Inquisition.
The smallest state in India yet the most frowned upon.
Goa started out its road towards fame by being a Portuguese port. There, Saint Xavier, one of the founders of the Jesuit order – with his friend Ignacio from Loyola – was an active converter. In fact, the Church was so adamant about converting Hindus to Christianism that the hundreds of temples of the State were destroyed by the Portuguese. The Inquisition played a scary and famous role in making of Goa one of the most renowned places in India.

Yet, by the 1970’s this bloodthirsty past was very well over.

The vicious members of the Portuguese Inquisition – I won’t describe what kind of torture they used on recalcitrant Hindus because this is a food blog after all – gave way to vicious people of another kind.

In the 1970’s, Goa became the hub for nudists, hashish and trance music. People knew how to have fun back then. Sex, drugs and swimming naked in the ocean were basically the 3 main activities of the westerners living on the Goan coasts.

(for the sake of my readership I kept this image in small format ...)

Consequently, as you may imagine, local Indians were a little taken aback (major understatement). Indian men probably didn’t mind having a pot-headed, dreadlocked, all-loving western girlfriend but they sure as hell didn’t approve of them.

Because you see, Indians are pretty conservative when it comes to women.

Women should be covered by clothing from shoulder to toe. They should be married by age 23 – with a male selected by the family of course. And then wear signs of their married status in order not to entice other men.

Oh, and trains have separate wagons for men and women of course.

So when foreign women in Goa started showing their assets a little bit too conspicuously, people started thinking. They started to think that foreign women were easy (to put it nicely). And now, for this reason, I have to wear big bangles when walking alone in Mumbai.

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