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Happy Thanksgiving

Tofurky

Tofurky

Happy Thanksgiving!

In my case without turkey – and unfortunately – also without Tofurky!

This soy based substitute tastes really, really good – if you haven’t tried it, please do yourself a favor and try it! It is healthy, yummy and also has less fat. I haven’t heard from anyone yet, who didn’t like it! However, it is not available in India and there are no companies importing it, or willing to send it to India. There also seem to be some restrictions on food shipments into India. If anyone knows of anyone wanting to change that, please let me know!

Anyway, of course I don’t want to talk anyone into vegetarianism, especially on Thanksgiving, but I want to mention that there are alternatives. 45 million dead turkeys just for one meal sounds like an awful lot to me, but hey!

Either way, enjoy your dinner, a very happy Thanksgiving, wherever in the world you may be, and lots of love to your and your families!


save the date: Friday, December 11 at Trikaya

Trikaya invitation December 11

Trikaya invitation December 11

Trikaya is in my opinion one of the most exciting restaurants in Pune, India! It serves amazing Eastern fusion cuisine and their beautiful restaurant with many different areas to relax and enjoy their culinary delights is always worth a visit!

On Friday, December 11, starting at 8pm, I will be their guest chef with a special “East meets West” vegetarian fusion dinner. Together with Nilesh Limaye, co-owner and head chef of Trikaya, we will present the following 9-course menu including a delightful wine pairing:

fried and steamed fresh basil-ricotta wonton with spicy tomato chili dip

chilled fennel and cucumber sushi roll with raisin-oregano sauce

sautéed mushrooms with tahini yoghurt sauce

Asian vegetable broth with pok choi and cilantro crepe rolls

baked halloumi cheese with apple raita, mango chutney and endive on mini poppadom

home-made lemon pasta with green asparagus and fava beans in cream sauce

spicy rice-vermicelli blini with fresh mint dip

roasted miso-marinated zucchini in sesame coat with chermoula

burnt butter ice cream with caramel sauce and macadamia brittle

This “East meets West” 9-course dinner is to be had for only INR 1,800 for just the food and including the wine pairing INR 2,500. Please make sure to get your reservations in early! To RSVP, please call Hema at +91-98331-43040 or send an e-mail to Nilesh@ChefNeel.com.

Trikaya is at Aditya Shagun Mall, 3rd floor, NDA Pashan Road, Bhavdan, Khurd in Pune 21

P.S. reading Maria Elia’s “the modern vegetarian” truly did inspire me and some of the recipes used in this “East meets West” dinner are developed based on some of her recipes. A big “Thank you!” to her culinary genius and inspiration again!


private cooking classes

private cooking classes

private cooking classes

Following the request communicated by some of my friends and guests from prior culinary events, I would like to post information on private cooking classes that I am making available in India.

There are two versions I am currently offering:

1. a morning cooking class from 10 am – 2pm for 2 – 4 participants (I can’t fit more into my kitchen there and I would like a hands-on experience for every participant):

The class will include the preparation of an appetizer or soup (this can be decided by the participants), one main course (maybe something like home-made pasta with a nice sauce or fresh pesto) and a dessert. Once it is decided what we will make, I’ll put together an overview of the respective recipes, including detailed instructions, with space for making additional notes during the session. The materials are for the participants to take home after the class.

We will prepare all the dishes together – with the hands on experience for everybody so that the participants really learn how to make every dish. Any questions, thoughts and challenges can be discussed right there, while preparing!

Afterwards we will eat the dishes as a 3-course lunch and while enjoying the food, we can further discuss alternative versions and other potential ideas.

2. an afternoon cooking class from 2pm – 8pm for also 2 – 4 participants:

This class will include the preparation of a four-course meal including an appetizer, a soup, a main course  and dessert. Same as with the morning course, once it is decided what we will make, I’ll put together an overview of the respective recipes, including instructions, with space for making additional notes during the session. The materials are for the participants to take home after the class.

We will prepare all the dishes together – with the hands on experience for everybody so that the participants really learn how to make every dish. Any questions, thoughts and challenges can be discussed right there, while preparing!

Afterwards for this class, we will eat the dishes as a 4-course dinner that also includes wine to match and while enjoying the food, we can further discuss alternative versions and other potential ideas for the dishes we created.

The morning course is offered for INR 2,500 per person and the afternoon course for INR 3,500 per person. Interested students and participants, please send an e-mail to info@CariyaBreemen.com with “cooking classes” in the subject line. Thank you!

The information and pricing above is for participants in India. However, classes also can be offered to students in other locations! Please let me know if you are interested and/or have any questions and I am happy to work with you wherever you are in the world!


Paris

Hotel de Ville in Paris

Hotel de Ville in Paris

Ah, Paris…!!! And Paris in November – even better!

Call me crazy, but I love vacation destinations during off season – I think they are so much more romantic and exciting that way. Paris in the spring of course is very nice, nothing wrong with that. Please don’t cancel your ticket if you have booked one already! But if you have the choice, try places everybody loves going at times when it is considered off season. Not only are the prices for the best places a bit lower – not that Paris is ever cheap, don’t get me wrong – but it certainly is less crowded.

Of course it is a bit snobbish to want a place you are visiting yourself without other tourists, since of course you are one too, but somehow it is more fun – at least for me. It feels more like I can try to understand how it would be if I were not just visiting, but to immerse myself in the real life of the place. Now again, to REALLY immerse myself, I guess I would need to be able to speak French beyond the very basic survival skills, but you know what I mean! The fun is in trying to catch a glimpse of the true essence of the city and its inhabitants when they are only invaded by a few tourists and therefore, I guess, more tolerant towards I guess!

Paris, here I come!


Chinese food and French wine

Island Tang 

Island Tang

On 14th November 2009 the Chateau Branaire Ducru had a wine tasting dinner at Island Tang in Hong Kong.

This is the evidence that good French wine can be combined with pretty much any cuisine!

However, the creativity in regards to the vegetarian dishes at Island Tang left a few things to be desired… Otherwise Island Tang is considered a great restaurant and my friends confirmed that the non-vegetarian pairing was a lot more interesting than mine. That is if you are a fan of culinary delights such as eel and suckling pig…

Here my vegetarian version – as you can see, all the dishes were either fried, had mushrooms in them or both:

Louis Roederer Brut Premier and Wok-fried Diced Wild Mushroom served with Crispy Taro Chips

Chateau Branaire Ducru, 2004 and Deep-fried Egg Plant with Seasoning Salt and Pepper

Chateau Branaire Ducru, 2003 and Braised Abalone Mushroom and Pea Shoots

Chateau Branaire Ducru, 2001 and Braised Bean Curd with Shitake Mushroom

Chateau Branaire Ducru, 1995 and Deep-fried Vegetable Parcel coated with Taro Crust

Chateau Branaire Ducru, 1985 and Bamboo Piths stuffed with Bean Sprouts and Assorted Mushrooms

Baked Sago Pudding filled with Chestnut Puree

Chinese Petit Fours

What can I say? The wine was amazing!!!


private Hong Kong dinner

wine dinner

wine dinner

Last Friday I cooked for a dear friend, who is also a great wine connoisseur, at a private party in Hong Kong. The food – a 9-course dinner – was matched with exquisite wines from his well-stocked wine fridge. Here the selection with the corresponding food:

magnum Veuve Cliquot Champagne, Yellow Label and Moet Chandon, Brut with double fried French fries and black truffle mayonnaise

Leuwin Estate Sauvignon Blanc Art Series 2007 with cilantro crepe in vegetable broth and mixed greens with grapefruit, Italian herb croutons and balsamic vinaigrette 

Sutherland Creek Chardonnay 2006 with grilled white asparagus in lemon-white wine-butter sauce with roasted breadcrumbs

magnum Saint Joseph “Les Granites” 1995, Chapoutier with pasta with pink peppercorn pesto, capers and black olives with parmesan crisp 

Le Petit Cheval, St Emillion 1993 with soy protein in tomato sauce with fresh basil

Tour St Bonnet, Medoc 2005 with cumin and parsley bread dumpling in mushroom cream sauce

For dessert there was a nice dessert wine and a port, which were served with a selection of 7 cheeses with blood orange marmalade and fresh fruit, followed by pecan pie with fresh cream and dark chocolate. 

As you can imagine, it was delightful!


wanted: a sample maker!!!

sewing patternsewing pattern

HELP!

My sample and pattern maker in Mumbai left me – or better, priced himself out of the market after delivering worse and worse quality.

If anyone knows of a good and reasonable couture sample and pattern maker, who doresn’t want to be hired full-time but is available for project work, PLEASE let me know!

The person would need to be able to create a pattern and make a first sample from a sketch, and then sew the actual design in VERY high quality.

Any insights you may have are greatly appreciated – thank you in advance!


Michelin Stars… and how to get one (or two or three)

Michelin

Michelin Guides

Have you ever wondered how to get a Michelin star, what they mean and what the difference is between one, two and three? Well, I have and here is the answer to those questions as quoted from their website:

Michelin employs a team of full-time professional restaurant and hotel inspectors who anonymously evaluate establishments according to a well-defined (but unpublished) set of criteria. All evaluations involve anonymous test meals or overnight stays at each establishment to assess the quality and the reliability of the experience.

The star symbols judge only what’s on the plate, meaning the quality of products, the mastering of flavors, mastering of cooking, personality of the cuisine, value for the money and the consistency of what the restaurant offers to its customers both throughout the menu and the year.

  • One star indicates a very good restaurant in its category, a good place to stop on your journey.
  • Two stars denote excellent cuisine, worth a detour, with specialties and wines of first-class quality.
  • Three stars reward exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey, where diners eat extremely well, often superbly. The wine list features generally outstanding vintages and the surroundings and service are part of this unique experience, which is priced accordingly.

In addition to the awarding of stars, the Michelin Guide provides a written description of each locale and a variety of other symbols to give readers further insight into an establishment’s ambiance, type of cuisine and specialties, and wine list, among other factors. In addition, the guide provides a comfort rating represented by the use of one to five forks and spoons for restaurants and one to five pavilions for hotels. These symbols take into consideration the decor, service, cleanliness and upkeep of the surroundings.

Now you know and I now only need a restaurant…!


The Knights of Alba – in Hong Kong…

The Knights of Alba

The Knights of Alba

On Monday, November 9, 2009 the Knights of Alba (yes, this is an official title!) united at the Crown Wine Cellars to bring upon the diners of Hong Kong the delights of the famous white truffles of Alba for the 13th time. The white Alba truffle, the second most expensive food in the world (between US$2,000 and 4,000 per kg) was served in a 5-course dinner with a delightful wine pairing.

After the important truffle auction here in the city this Sunday (11/08) – the entry ticket price supposedly was US$1,000 just to be allowed to do some bidding… – I chose to simply sample the treasures.

And I have to say: worth it! worth it! worth it!

Admittedly, I am already a truffle addict and I am ready to sample these rare delights whenever I can get my hands on them, but chef Massimo Camia from beautiful Barolo in Piedmont is definitely worthy of his Michelin star and does the noble tuber justice!

Here the delights of my pleasurable evening as well as the carnivore version in (parentheses):

a wild rice – mushroom medley with white truffle shavings (the carnivore version had quail – supposedly the mushroom was better, at least according to my husband)

a potato cheese soup with egg yolk and white truffle shavings – fantastic!

cheese filled super thin ravioli in butter and white truffle shavings – really good too!

and then it unfortunately was a bit of a let down: spaghetti in lemon butter sauce with no truffle at all (the meat version here was beef and mashed potatoes – also no truffles…)

and then dessert – I didn’t have it (I don’t like sweets – yes, I know…) – and it didn’t have any truffles either.

The verdict here is that the first three courses were delightful, however, the fourth was a bit disappointing. Nevertheless, at HK$1,799 (about US$230) including the wonderful wines (5 different ones from sparkling prosecco to a slightly sweet white – I skipped that one – to three beautiful reds) still a good deal for the amount of truffle that was on the first three courses!


the modern vegetarian – a great cookbook

The Modern Vegetarian

The Modern Vegetarian

I just picked up this wonderful cookbook in Hong Kong – because it was featuring vegetarian delights and I was in for some inspiration, being away from my own kitchen for almost two weeks – yes, I am having withdrawal symptoms…!

Unfortunately, I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Maria Elia, the author of this culinary master piece, but she sounds like an absolutely amazing person and I can’t wait to hopefully meet her sometime soon!

She cooked at Cafe Royal’s Grill Room, at El Bulli (!), Arzak (also in Spain) and at The Oriental Cooking School in Bangkok, as well as heading up the kitchen at Delfina Studio Cafe for 10 years!

There is also a whole laundry list of other accomplishments including Top 10 Female Chefs to watch by the Independent and a variety of TV appearances as well as other things that make you just envy her – in a positive way. And then, look at that gorgeous woman:

Mara Elia

Maria Elia

And after having read her book – it has great recipes, is written very well and communicates a very smart approach to vegetarian cuisine and she isn’t even one herself! – all I can do, is seriously adore this woman!

Get The Modern Vegetarian – it is a great inspiration and has amazing recipes!


pasta forks

pasta forks - ready to eat

pasta forks - ready to eat

now this is not a recipe, but a serving suggestion!

This way of presenting pasta works pretty much with any kind that can be twirled around a fork: spaghetti, tagliatelle, fettucini, or in this case, bucatini. 

You can use it for Italian, but also for Chinese, Thai or Japanese noodle versions. 

Admittedly, it is a bit of a pain to get the pasta strands on the forks, decorated and out on the party floor before the whole creation getting cold, but it looks really good, and it is also pretty much the only way you can serve pasta as an appetizer at a cocktail party.

Give it a try – admiration guaranteed!


media coverage

Mumbai Mirror Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mumbai Mirror Sunday, October 25, 2009

my culinary art made it into the Mumbai newspapers!

Here the link to the article from the Sunday edition of the Mumbai Mirror (page 10 and 11) on October 25, 2009:

http://www.mumbaimirror.com/index.aspx?page=article&sectid=82&contentid=200910252009102502513115d1b5f426

And here an article in DNA afterhours, another Indian newspaper with a funky Sunday edition:

http://www.dnaindia.com/lifestyle/report_the-kitchen-is-her-canvas_1302622

Somehow technology is not cooperating here though and I can’t get the links above to go active… If you would like to read the articles, please copy and paste the links in a new window. Sorry for the inconvenience! I tried every trick in the book, but it just isn’t working…

However, for more on my culinary art, here is a 16 minute radio interview if you are interested (P.S. please ignore the spelling of my last name):

Bombay Talkies 1.5: Culinary Art with Cariya Breeman (Sonologue, India) October 26, 2009