© Photo Courtesy Blue Frog
Guest blogger Monica Bhide, author of Modern Spice,
gave us some of her best picks for where to go late-night in Mumbai.
As Barack Obama heads to one of my favorite cities in the world, I thought I would offer him some guidance on how to relax, Mumbai-style, after a long day of work. From roadside restaurants to salsa clubs, it all begins around midnight in Mumbai.
1. Blue Frog Located in an old warehouse, the club has circular stadium-style rows with seating pods that glow in psychedelic colors during live performances. On offer are cocktails like the Indian Summer, made with vodka, fresh mango, mint and ginger.
2. Zenzi Mills Right across from Blue Frog is this new restaurant inside an old cotton mill. A two-story lounge with exposed-brick walls, it has salsa and a sleek bar that turns out cocktails at lightning speed. Pair their caipiroska (a caipirinha with vodka) with inventive dishes, like paneer satay.
3. Shiro This 10,000-square-foot lounge has Indian-inspired lotus ponds, three larger-than-life Balinese statues hovering over the patrons and red-glass baubles hanging from the ceiling. The best dish is a searing Mahtani chicken with onions and chiles, named for the owner.
4. Lotus Café at the J.W. Marriott This elegant coffee shop with soaring ceilings is a late-night favorite of Bollywood stars. Try Madras steak served in a coconut gravy with onion and chile tempura, plus one of their famous iced teas in flavors like mint, watermelon and green apple.
5. Haji Ali Juice Center Hard-core party-goers end their nights here. Since 1937, the Haji Ali Juice bar has served the city’s best juices. There are no seats, so you park your car by the sea and the waiters come running to take your order for their ruby-red pomegranate juice or their signature “Ganga Jamuna,” a blend of orange juices.
© Jen Murphy
Mil hojas from Amor Amar, Lima.
As soon as I booked my plane ticket to Peru, I reached out to Nicholas Gill
, a super-plugged-in, Lima-based travel and food writer, and asked him where I should eat. At the top of his list was Amor Amar
, a new restaurant from the owner of Pescados Capitales
and former chef of La Gloria
— two of Lima’s greatest culinary minds. Spectacular food. Gorgeous space. His one warning: The restaurant is hard to find. He wasn't kidding. Located in the hip, up-and-coming Barranco neighborhood, Amor Amar is on a nondescript residential street. Random white paper signs stuck to telephone poles lead the way and the only clue that you've reached the restaurant is the valets standing outside what looks like a large garage door. But that door opens into a fabulous courtyard. The entire restaurant is outside (there are heat lamps in case it gets cold) and it feels like a Hollywood backyard party with a long bar and a raised area with couches and music. I jumped between classic dishes like seafood causa (a starchy Peruvian casserole layered rice, potatoes, avocado and prawns) and a slow-roasted suckling goat cooked in a wood-burning oven. My waiter warned me from the moment I sat down to save room for dessert, a decadent mil hojas—a puffed pastry layered with lucuma, a custardy fruit, and chocolate mousse. Rather than sit in a food coma, I explored the restaurant's orchid shop and the art gallery located in an old mansion on the property. The owner showcases local artists, like Marcelo Wong
, whose cherubic figures are scattered throughout the courtyard.
© Jen Murphy
A view leading down to Victor Delfin's studio in Lima.
I recently took a last-minute vacation to Peru and had a few nights to spend in the capital, Lima. A friend clued me in to a great hotel, Second Home
. The name and the super-affordable price tag (about $100 a night, including breakfast) made me wary that I'd be checking into a hostel. But instead, I found myself staying at the home of Peru's famous artist, Victor Delfin (his controversial statue, El Beso, is on display nearby in El Parque del Amor). His daughter, Lillian, runs the five-bedroom B&B in Lima's Bohemian Barranco district. A large door on a dead-end street led me into a courtyard dotted with bronze sculptures of horses and a large bird swing set. The aesthetic was a mesh of Tim Burton and Guillermo del Toro wackiness and it continued inside the house. Delfin's large portraits of nude women hung from the walls and enormous wooden sculptures were around every corner. Two ground-floor rooms served as galleries showcasing his work (all of it for sale). Rooms had garden or ocean views, and breakfast—eggs made to order, homemade croissants and jams and excellent coffee—was served at a large wooden communal table in the kitchen. But the highlight was getting to see Delfin's studio. A walk across the backyard, down past the fabulous swimming pool, led to Delfin's workspace, where, if you're lucky, you can catch him finishing his newest masterpiece.
Once a novelty, the concept of the hotel cooking class–or even in some cases cooking school–has become ubiquitous. It was only a matter of time before a resort tapped into the nose-to-tail obsession and started offering butchering programs. Starting next month the Sanderling Resort & Spa in North Carolina’s Outer Banks will hold monthly butchering workshops taught by German master butcher Frank Meusel and executive chef Joshua Hollinger (his family was in the butchering business for more than 100 years). The one-day workshops, held at nearby Weeping Radish Farm will educate guests on how to break down cuts of a whole animal with a focus on prime cuts. The first class, on November 20, focuses on breaking down a half steer and includes lessons in emulsion cooking and smoking and turning cuts of meat into sausages and hot dogs.
Last week, Laura Catena of Argentina’s famous Bodega Catena Zapata stopped by the Food & Wine office with her new book, Vino Argentino: An Insider’s Guide to the Wines and Wine Country of Argentina. I was seriously contemplating buying a plane ticket to Buenos Aires as I flipped through the dreamy photos of vineyards in the Uco Valley and enormous asado feasts.
I’ve yet to visit Argentina, but Catena’s guide is an essential primer with fascinating stories of the region’s pioneering winemakers and immigrant history, cultural observations on the Argentine lifestyle, and great travel tips on everything from where and what to eat and drink to asking a local friend to book your hotel (some hotels have special rates for Argentines). In the last chapter, Catena even maps out her perfect 14-day luxe wine country itinerary; she includes maps in the back of the book. I won’t be able to squeeze in a trip this year, so instead, I tried to transport myself by cooking a recipe from the book—spicy emapanadas salteñas from Argentina’s Salta province—and pairing them with Catena’s gorgeous Alamos Torrontés, a white made with grapes from Salta’s high-altitude vineyards.
© Jen Murphy
Hippes use the back door at Foxen's new tasting room.
Last week I blogged about my best food finds in Santa Barbara. Here, my hit list from wine country:
*The uber-modern new Terravant Wine Co. in Buellton is shared by 30 local wineries. Its tapas and wine bar, Avant, overlooks the tanks and serves pizzas, duck confit-and-spinach salad and snacks like marcona almonds and albacore-and-artichoke bruschetta. A cuvinet dispenses wines from the more than 30 producers that use the facility for production. Don’t miss live music Friday nights.
*After barrel tasting at Terravant with Frank Ostini, we joined him for dinner at his restaurant The Hitching Post 2. The place still gets a ton of Sideways fans, but locals go Monday through Wednesday for killer burgers and Wednesdays for the smoked pulled BBQ pork sandwich (both served only at the Sidebar). Wine to try: The Hitching Post Highliner.
*Before exploring wine country we stocked up on snacks in Los Olivos at the Saturday farmers' market and picked up some beautiful olive oils at Global Gardens. The cute little shop, located at the end of town in a converted shed, sells extra-virgin first cold pressing olive oils as well as fruit-infused vinegars, spice blends and gorgeous tabletop pieces from around the world. Blair Fox Cellars, an ultra-boutique 500-case label, recently opened a tasting room next door.
*A long windy driveway leads up to dreamy Demetria Estate, where I fell in love with the Cuvée Papou while listening to live music on a terrace overlooking the vineyards. The winery recently started hosting movie nights in the vineyards.
*Foxen Vineyard’s new solar-powered winery and tasting room is Pinot heaven. We tasted the Julia’s Vineyard, Bien Nacido Vineyard-Block 8 and Sea Smoke bottlings.
A recent long weekend in and around Santa Barbara turned up some awesome food, quirky new tasting rooms and, of course, phenomenal wines. Here, my cheat sheet:
*Nothing makes me happier than a great breakfast (particularly after a morning surfing the 54-degree waters in Ventura). Locals hit Jeannine’s for the Stumptown coffee, eggs Benedict and a chance to potentially see star surfer Kelly Slater, who is known to drop by after a surf, and D’Angelo Bread for the most perfect triple berry scones.
* Doug Margerum of Margerum Wine Company is back at the helm of Wine Cask (he ran the wine shop–restaurant–wine bar from 1981 to 2007) with a new partner, Mitchell Sjerven, owner of Bouchon and Seagrass restaurants. The wine bar serves seasonal, local dishes like mushroom risotto, roasted beets and goat cheese and duck confit flatbread. There is, of course, an awesome wine list. Doug gave us a taste of a special Margerum M5 Wine Cask blend he’s working on just for the restaurant. The Wine Cask tasting room will most likely become a tasting room for Margerum wines.
*Emma and Justin West, the talented young husband-and-wife team behind the tiny two-year-old Julienne restaurant are getting a ton of buzz for their daring (by Santa Barbara standards) farm-to-table food. The restaurant uses all local seafood from boats out of the Santa Barbara and Ventura harbors; ranch-raised meats (they frequently butcher whole animals in-house) and local produce. Menu highlights include the braised lamb tongue with shaved radishes and roasted garlic; grilled squid with pickled French beans and radicchio, and abalone with potatoes, celery and onion in a saffron-sea broth.
Check back tomorrow for wine country highlights.
© Jen Murphy
The Supply Room at the Presidio Motel.
Santa Barbara, California’s Presidio Motel has gotten a super-hip makeover since Kenny Osehan and Chris Sewell took over the space about five years ago. They started the transformation by asking University of Santa Barbara art students to reimagine the motel’s 16 guest rooms. Some fun results: whimsical origami mobiles and purple cloud murals. Live bands come play on the upper deck, which is outfitted with bright orange chairs—and, sometimes, an inflatable kiddie pool filled with bottles of local craft beer. The newest addition is a funky little boutique that opened in July called the Supply Room. Reminiscent of Opening Ceremony’s space at the Ace Hotel in NYC, the Supply Room carries indie designers from the Santa Barbara area, as well as from Brooklyn and L.A. When I stopped in, the store was stocked with fun beaded jewelry from local designer Camilla Bourbon, handmade sheepskin slippers made in Bodega Bay and Osei-Duro clothing from Ghana. There are also fun travel items like vintage postcards and Japanese toothpaste. With the Supply Room now open, Osehan and Sewell have turned their attention to their next project: a 1956 Shasta Trailer RV that will most likely be turned into a happy hour lounge in the parking lot.
© Jen Murphy
Jalama Road Farm Stand
Last weekend I was in Santa Barbara County eating, drinking and trying to catch a few waves from an unexpected south swell. My friend and I drove out to Jalama Beach, which in addition to being a great surf spot is also home to the famous Jalama burger. The wind wasn’t working in our favor for surfing, but on the drive back we discovered the awesome new Jalama Road Family Farm Stand (look for signs along Jalama Road about one mile after the turn off of Highway 1). My friend and I had used the last of our cash for parking at the beach but offered to barter two bottles of wine for heirloom tomatoes, squash, peppers, pumpkins, homemade jams and sunflowers. The produce and artisanal goods all come from the Pata and Malloy families (that I later learned were the surf world’s legendary Malloys. The adorable packaging on the butter beans (which includes a recipe for hummus) and labels on the honey were created by Erin Pata, who also owns Butterbean Studios. The stand is open Fridays through Sundays from noon to 5:00p.m.