Friday, June 22, 2018

Clos Maggiore: London's Most Romantic Restaurant

Once described by a famous patron as “like eating inside of a fairy tale” Clos Maggiore is the most romantic restaurant in London and perhaps the world. An oasis of calm in the heart of Convent Garden, it's crowning glory is its gorgeous conservatory with canopy of fairy lights and white cherry blossoms complete with the warmth of a roaring log fire on chilly nights, evoking a dreamlike atmosphere in soft candlelight. Influenced by the stylish country inns of Provence and Tuscany, head chef Marcellin Marc is committed to sourcing local seasonal products throughout the year such as lamb from the Welsh mountains, seafood from the coast and vegetables from Kent, to create perfectly balanced menus which have consistently been recognised and awarded with AA-rosette awards. Arriving for dinner, we were seated at a lovely romantic table for two in the inner sanctum — the magical blossom-filled conservatory. Deceptively small, Clos Maggiore has only about 15 tables with a team of dedicated staff that are charming, professional and second-to-none. Champagne and parmesan scones appear compliments of the chef, a waiter offers a choice of homemade breads and focaccia, and the sommelier will pair each dish with wine from the restaurant's globally renowned wine cellar which boasts over 2,500 selections appealing to all occasions, a daunting wine bible ranging from a modest bottle of ‘Vin De Pays’ to the greatest names in the wine world. A stellar evening from start to finish, our dinner at Clos Maggiore was delightful and delicious, like a culinary fairy tale with a soul satisfying happy ending.

Once described by a famous patron as “like eating inside of a fairy tale” Clos Maggiore 
is the most romantic restaurant in London

Chef Marcellin Marc's menu of modern French-influenced cuisine 

Two glasses of Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Brut Rosé Champagne

A copper pan of gorgeous freshly baked cheese scones

Butter with sprinkle of Maldon Salt

Marco Felluga Pinot Grigio by the glass

Chargrilled Sicilian Aubergine Stuffed with Courgette, Pepper, Fresh Basil, 
Sweet and Sour Datterino Tomatoes with White Onion Pissaladière

Smoked Burrata from Puglia and Green Asparagus,
Fennel and Broad Bean Salad with Lemon Honey Vinaigrette and Smoked Almonds

Oven Roasted Free Range Chicken Leg Stuffed with Duck Livers and Morels with 
French Pea and Morel Casserole

Roasted Black Iberian Pork Loin with Roasted Potato Gnocchi 
and Pancetta, Braised Red Chicory with Pork and Onion Sauce

Pork and Onion sauce poured over the Roasted Black Iberian Pork Loin

Truffled Mash Potatoes

Wilted Spinach

Roasted William Pear with pistachio iced cream and gingerbread

Hand Picked Devon Crab, Brown Shrimp and Cauliflower Rémoulade

Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of Chef Marcellin Marc

For the crab:
7 oz white crab meat
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp Philadelphia cream cheese
1 tbsp chopped flat parsley
2 tbsp diced green apple

For the cauliflower rémoulade:

3 1/2 oz blanched cauliflower florets
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp chopped flat parsley

For the shrimps:
2 oz peeled brown shrimps
Extra virgin olive oil

Mix all the crab ingredients together and check the seasoning, then do the same for the cauliflower rémoulade ingredients. To serve, place the crab in the centre of each plate, and on each side add the quenelles of cauliflower remoulade, then on the top and around the the salad, add the brown shrimps. Finally, drizzle the dish with extra virgin olive oil.

Braised Shoulder of Loire Valley Rabbit with Sweet and Sour Black Radish & Wholegrain Mustard Mousseline

Serves 8
Recipe courtesy of Chef Marcellin Marc


8 rabbit shoulders
2 tbsp rosemary and thyme, chopped
Salt and pepper
3 1/2 oz caul fat
1ltr duck fat
2 sprigs each of of thyme and rosemary
3 garlic cloves
3 bay leaves

Sweet & sour black radish:

1 black radish
3 1/2 oz honey
7 oz water
7 oz sherry vinegar

Wholegrain mustard mousseline:

3 large egg yolks
1 cup vegetable oil
1tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
Salt and pepper 
1 tsp sherry vinegar
1/2 cup whipped cream

To make the rabbit, remove the 2 bones from each shoulder with a small boning knife. Keep the last small bone as this will help to hold the final shape. Lay the meat down on the chopping board and season with salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme. Roll each shoulder so that it looks like a ball, with the little bone inside sticking out. Then wrap it in the caul fat, which will maintain the shape during cooking. Place the 8 shoulders in a deep ovenproof pan with the duck fat, rosemary, thyme, garlic and bay leaves. Cook for 4 hours at 200°F. Drain the shoulders carefully and brown them under a grill in the oven.

To make the black radish, peel the raw radish and slice it paper thin with a chopping knife. Mix together the water, honey and vinegar. Add the sliced radish and boil gently for 2 minutes. Set aside and leave to cool down in the liquid until completely cold.

To make the mousse line, begin by making a classic mayonnaise by mixing all the ingredients together and then gently folding the whipped cream in the mixture.

To serve, place the slices of black radish carefully in a circle on each plate. Place the shoulder in the middle of each plate, then shape three quenelles of the mousseline around the rabbit or place it on a side as you wish — enjoy!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Tate Modern + Picasso: Love. Fame. Tragedy.

Picasso embarked on a passionate love affair in 1932 that led to a year of furious artistic creativity, and thus inspired The Tate Modern’s summer exhibition 'Picasso 1932: Love, Fame, Tragedy', concentrating completely on his output for that one single year. He was playing with shape and colour too, but at the centre of it all was the face and the body of Marie-Thérèse Walter, his new 22-year-old lover. While Walter’s name is not so familiar outside the art world, her face is probably better known, in all its aspects and angles, than that of Picasso himself. Her strong nose has been accentuated in a hundred abstract studies and sculptured heads, many of them included in this show, mixed with family photographs and rare glimpses into his personal life. Although close male friends knew about his secret life and colluded with it, for eight years Picasso successfully hid it from his first wife Olga Khokhlova, the Russian ballet dancer and mother of his young eleven year old son Paulo, maintaining a delicate balance between looking after his family while fully engaged in his steamy relationship with Marie-Thérèse. The exhibition brings these complex artistic and personal dynamics to life with an unprecedented range of loans from collections around the world.

Picasso’s split existence between his homes and studios in his Normandy chateau in Boisgeloup and central Paris capture the contradictions of his life at this pivotal moment: divided between countryside retreat and urban bustle, established wife and recent lover, painting and sculpture, sensuality and darkness. The year ended traumatically when Walter fell seriously ill after swimming in the river Marne, losing most of her iconic blonde hair. In his final works of the year, Picasso transformed the event into scenes of rescue and ruin, creating at the same time an analogy for the thunderclouds gathering over Europe: from the crisis of the Great Depression and mass unemployment, to the rise of Fascism including in his native Spain. The result is a dramatic finale to a year of love, fame and tragedy that pushed Picasso to the height of his creative powers, cemented his celebrity status as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.

With a rich industrial heritage, London's Tate Modern is located on the site 
of the former Bankside Power Station

In 1932, Picasso embarked on a love affair that led to 12 months of furious creativity, with the Tate Modern’s 'Picasso 1932: Love, Fame, Tragedy', concentrating on his output for that single year

Picasso in his studio

Marie-Thérèse Walter in 1928 at Picasso's french Château de Boisgeloup

Russian ballet dancer Olga Khokhlova, Picasso's wife and mother of their son Paolo

Seated Woman by Window, Oct 30 1932

Bronze 'Head of a Woman', 1931/32

Reading, January 9, 1932

A young woman photographing Picasso's 'A Young Woman Playing the Mandoline'

The Mirror from March 12, 1932

Nude, Green Leaves & Bust, March 8, 1932

Le Rêve (The Dream), Private collection, January 30, 1932

Picasso's sculpture workshop in the stables at Château de Boisgeloup, 
with Bob, the family’s Pyrenean Mountain dog

Nude in Black Armchair, March 9, 1932

Girl Before Mirror, March 14, 1932

Picasso’s Omelette Tortilla Niçoise 
Serves 4 

Back in 1964, Pablo Picasso shared with Vogue’s food columnist Ninette Lyon two of his favourite recipes: one for Eel Stew, the other for Omelette Tortilla Niçoise. 

6 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion
4 peppers, red and green
3 tomatoes
2 tbsp wine vinegar
8 large eggs
Salt and pepper

In a flat-bottomed frying pan, heat oil gently, adding the onion, sliced and separated into rings. After 5 minutes, add the peppers, seeded and diced. Mix and cook gently for a few minutes, then slip in the tomatoes, seeded, peeled, and cubed. After mixing and seasoning, cover pan and let simmer over a low flame for 1 hour. Vegetables should not stick. Uncover the pan, pour in the wine vinegar, and let cook until liquid is reduced. Beat the eggs in a bowl. Pour them over the vegetables, mix well, and let the omelette cook gently without touching it. When it is well set, put a big plate over the pan and reverse the omelette onto it, then slide it back into the pan on the other side. Finish over a higher flame until golden underneath. Cut the omelette tortilla like a pie, and serve with a bowl of garlic-mayonnaise seasoned with saffron.

Picasso’s Eel Stew 
Serves 4

6 tbsp olive oil
6 tbsp butter
12 small white onions
1 tsp sugar
2 yellow onions, chopped
12 mushrooms
1/3 lb salt pork, cubed
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 eels of about 1 pound each, cut into four- to five-inch sections
1 bottle of good red wine
1 tbsp flour
Salt, pepper, cayenne pepper
Bouquet garni: thyme, bay leaf, parsley, fennel, and a small branch of celery

Heat 2 tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan, add small white onions and sprinkle them with sugar. When golden on all sides, cover the pan and cook gently, turning onions carefully from time to time. Be sure they are well caramelized without sticking. After 10 minutes add the salt pork cut in cubes; when transparent, put in the mushroom heads, and let simmer.

At the same time: Heat 2 tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons of oil in a casserole. Cover the bottom with 2 chopped onions, minced shallots, garlic, and chopped mushroom stems. Put the bouquet garni in the center and the sections of fish around it. Season and cook gently for 5 minutes, then cover with wine. Bring to a boil, then lower flame as far as possible, to simmer, without boiling, for 15 minutes.

Drain the pieces of eel and place in the frying pan with the small onions. Keep warm over a low flame. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve, return to high flame and reduce, uncovered for 5 minutes. Work 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon flour into a paste, and add it in bits to thicken sauce; stir to boiling point before removing from stove. Cover the eel stew with sauce; and serve surrounded by croutons fried in butter.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Jamavar: An Indian Jewel in the Heart of Mayfair

Mayfair’s Michelin-starred Jamavar takes guests on an exquisite culinary journey, showcasing the unique flavours and secret recipes from different parts of India, from the Royal Kitchens of the North to succulent dishes of the Southern shores, exploring pan-Indian flavours using a masterful range of authentic culinary techniques by chef Surender Mohan, culinary director of Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts. Named after the intricate and vibrant 16th-century shawls of Kashmir, Jamavar is the jewel in the crown of the award-winning Indian hotel group. Set across two high-ceilinged floors, the stylish interior was inspired by the Viceroy’s house of New Delhi with delicate colonial flourishes and a rich celebration of traditional Indian textiles, precious marble, mirrors and dark wood panelling. 

An intoxicating combination of glamorous design and refined cuisine, Jamavar achieves that rare and precious balance between style and substance: the food tastes even better than everything else looks. Behind every dish is a team of highly experienced chefs, each a culinary master of a distinct regional cuisine, and the menu is a delicious journey of sensory discovery and culinary delight, with dishes such as Venison Samosas with crispy cauliflower, chutney and pickle; ‘Old Delhi’ Suffolk corn-fed butter chicken; Eight-hour slow-cooked Hampshire lamb shank with Rajasthani chilli; Jamavar Dal made with slow-cooked black lentils; Dal Chawal Aur Achaar, one of their most popular dishes, composed of crisp lentil and rice dumplings with green chutney and heritage carrot pickle. Celebration of Indian cuisine is fundamental to Jamavar, and with secret recipes of the founder's mother Leela, after whom the luxury hospitality chain is named included in the menu, this stunning restaurant in the heart of Mayfair has established itself as one of the top Indian restaurants in London.

Jamavar London is the culinary jewel of The Leela Group, first conceived in the late nineties by Dinesh Nair, co-chairman and managing director of The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts

Designed by London's Fabled Studios, Jamavar is a rich celebration of marbles, dark timber panelling and gilded lincrusta wall coverings offset with brass accents and hand-cut marquetry 

Jamavar main floor dining room

The stylish interior of Jamavar's downstairs dining room designed like chaturanga, 
ancient Indian chess boards

Jamavar's menu showcases the unique flavours and secret recipes from different parts of India, 
from the Royal Kitchens of the North to succulent options of the Southern shores

The elegant bar with brown emperor marble and brass accents

'Flying Scott Gin & Tonic' made with Hendrick’s Gin, fresh cucumber, rose petals and burlesque bitter

Vodka Martini with olives

Mixed Papadam

Assorted chutneys served with the papadam

Venison Samosas with crispy cauliflower, chutney and pickle

Dal Chawal Aur Achaar with crispy lentil and rice dumplings, green chutney and heritage carrot pickle

Indian Lager

Methi Gosht with goat, spinach, cinnamon and fresh fenugreek leaves

Old Delhi Butter Chicken made with Suffolk corn-fed, char-grilled pulled chicken, 
fresh tomato and fenugreek

Jamavar Dal made with slow-cooked black lentils

Assorted Naan and Kulcha

Complimentary desserts served on a banana leaf in a hollowed out wooden server

Culinary Director and Chef Surender Mohan

Dal Chawal aur Achaar
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of chef Rohit Ghai, Jamavar

1 oz toor dal

1 white onion, chopped
2 oz tomato, chopped
1/2 oz ginger, crushed
1/2 oz garlic, crushed
1/2 oz green chilli, chopped
1 1/2 oz rice
1 tsp whole cumin
1 tsp turmeric
4 tsp oil
1/2 oz panko breadcrumbs
3/4 oz cornflour
salt, to taste

For the tadka dahl:
1/2 cup plain yoghurt
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp ginger, chopped
1/2 tsp green chilli, chopped
3 curry leaves, chopped
3/4 tbsp oil
Pinch turmeric
Salt, to taste

Soak the rice for 20 minutes. Boil the rice and keep it aside. Soak the toor dal and boil with a little salt and turmeric to taste. Once cooked, keep aside.

Heat oil in a pan, add cumin, ginger, green chillis and saute. Add the chopped onion and cook until golden in colour. Add chilli powder, turmeric and salt, and cook for a while. 
Add the chopped tomato and cook down until the tomatoes become mashed. Add the boiled dal and chopped coriander. Stir in the cooked rice and turn off the heat. Once cool, check the seasoning and if required, add salt and ginger, further green chilli and coriander.

Next, prepare the tadka dahl. Whisk yoghurt in a bowl, add a little salt and keep aside. 
Heat oil in a small pan and add the mustard seeds. Once they start to crackle, add a pinch of turmeric, chopped ginger and green chilli. Sauté and gently stir in the yoghurt. Remove from the heat and serve.

Andhra Podi Prawns
Serves 2
Recipe courtesy of chef Rohit Ghai, Jamavar

For the prawns:
12 peeled prawns
2 tbsp rice flour
3 tbsp corn flour
1 1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 pepper powder
2 tsp mild red chilli powder
2 sprigs curry leaves finely chopped
1 lime, juiced
2 green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
salt and water as needed
Podi powder
Oil for deep frying

For the Podi powder:
1/4 cup chana dal
1/4 cup urad dal
1/4 cup sesame seeds
6-8 red chillies, or to taste
1-2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp cumin
1/4 cup dried or desiccated coconut
2 sprigs curry leaves
Salt to taste

First, prepare the prawns. Wash the prawns and drain completely. Marinate the prawns with the chopped curry leaves and 1 tsp of red chilli powder and lime juice, and keep aside.

Next, prepare the Podi powder. Wash the curry leaves, leaving the sprigs on a clean kitchen cloth to dry. Clean all the ingredients, pick off any debris and discard. Dry roast the dals and red chillies until crisp, and set aside. In the same pan, add the curry leaves and roast on a low heat until they turn crisp. Set aside. Switch off the stove. Add the sesame seeds and cumin to the hot pan and roast. Add the coconut, garlic and toss. Set aside as well to cool.

Powder the red chillies and dal, add the other ingredients and a sprinkle of salt and transfer to an airtight jar for storing. Next, make a batter using rice and corn flour, garam masala, salt, red chilli paste, ginger, garlic and chopped coriander leaves. Add water as needed. Deep fry the prawns until golden. Set aside on a kitchen towel. Serve hot with a dollop of tomato chutney and sprinkle Podi powder on top.