Who knew that Beetroot could be so delicious?

Every job has its perks and as a foodie, being invited to an exclusive dinner hosted by Tom Aikens (headlining act of the London restaurant scene and the youngest chef ever to be awarded two Michelin stars don’t you know), was not only the highlight of my week…but my month! 

Tom Aikens

On behalf of Beachcomber Hotels and Tom Aikens, I was fortunate enough to experience some of Tom’s innovative, creative dishes at one of his stunning restaurants in Chelsea, London. The event was to launch the series of one-off Master Classes Tom will be presenting at the prestigious Beachcomber Royal Palm in Mauritius. For three days only, in March 2013 guests will be able to partake in these classes but also enjoy sit down, private four-course dinners cooked by the celebrity chef over these three nights. 

Tom Aikens Restaurant

To Start: The night began with Jasmine cured salmon with viola flowers, pickled apple & jasmine oil. The combination of the salmon and viola flowers was something completely new to me. It was light, fresh and the salmon… simply ‘melt in your mouth’ delicious. The other guests and I agreed this dish presented to you in Mauritius, on a warm tropical evening with the waves gently crashing ashore would be magical. However, as it was drizzling outside we had to come back to reality. Our main course sounded perfect for the cold British weather. 

Main: After reading the main on the menu, Piglet belly, braised & then roasted with squid & pineapple, I was slightly dubious. I have had both pork belly and squid however never together. As I now know, the two complement each other hugely and it was absolutely delicious, the best piglet belly I had experienced. The small cubes of pork meant it wasn’t too overwhelming and I took my time to enjoy the flavours.

 I wasn’t prepared though for the pudding…

Pudding: The diners at the table quietly told their neighbour that beetroot ‘wasn’t really their thing’. I agreed…to me it tastes a little too earthy… but Tom created something that can only be described as utterly unusual and utterly….flamboyant, ‘Candied Beetroot, yoghurt parfait, sweetened beets and port syrup’.

From beetroot meringue to beetroot sorbet each little beetroot delight was so different from the next… how can you make one vegetable into a desert and create quite so many things from it? (Read this fantastic analysis on Tom’s well known beetroot dessert…http://www.foodrepublic.com/2012/09/27/plate-deconstruction-tom-aikens-restaurants-candie

The Tom Aikens Master Classes will take place at Royal Palm, Mauritius between 25th-27th March 2013 and will include:

•           Two morning master classes with Tom Aikens

•           Champagne on the beach with a joint demonstration of Mauritian cuisine hosted by Tom Aikens and Michel de Matteis

•           Three Four-Course Dinners cooked by Tom Aikens each evening

Dedicated to serving ethically sourced, seasonal ingredients of the highest quality, Tom will be working with the Royal Palm and the island’s local suppliers to re-craft his acclaimed signature dishes and give them a Mauritian-inspired twist.

All for just £150 per participant.  Non-cooking partners are welcome at the evening dinners for no additional charge.

For more information on Beachcomber Hotels visit www.beachcombertours.co.uk visit and for Royal Palm see www.royalpalm-hotel.com.

Snapper Ceviche at Gaya Island Resort, Borneo

Always ones to be hot on the heels of the latest food trend, Grifco has been obsessed with the refreshing dish that is Ceviche for some time now. With the likes of Ceviche on Frith Street, Lima London and now Sushi Samba opening their doors and introducing us to the healthy delights of smackingly fresh raw fish cured in zingy flavours, we couldn’t wait to master this dish ourselves! So imagine how pleased I was to learn that on a recent trip to the new (and stunning) Gaya Island Resort in Borneo I was to have a personal Ceviche lesson from one of the resort’s best chefs. Luckily the recipe was super easy and the results impressive! Read on to learn how to recreate delicious Snapper Ceviche yourself at home…

Snapper Hinava

 (Cured Snapper Fillet With Lime Juice)

A native dish of the Kadazan

Ingredients

Cured Snapper

Snapper Fillet (Seabass is a good alternative) 80g

White Wine Vinegar 100ml

Lime Juice 100ml

Salt 3g

Ginger (Finely sliced) 5g

2 Birds Eye Chillies (Finely sliced)

1 Shallot (Sliced)

Sakura Cress

Lemon Air

Lemon Juice 80ml

Lime Juice 80ml

Sugar 8g

Salt 2g

Lecite 3g

Coriander Oil

Coriander Leaves 20g

Rock Salt 3g

Corn oil 50ml

Method

For the cured snapper, Slice the fish fillet into half inch thick strips. Marinade in the white wine vinegar for 30 minutes, then pat dry with a paper towel. Transfer the fish fillet to a flat container & add the rest of the ingredients. Let it marinade for at least 1 hour.

For the lemon air, combine all the ingredients and foam using a hand blender or whisk. Admire how impressive and cheffy this looks with minimal effort!

For the coriander oil, place coriander, salt and corn oil into a blender and blend on a high speed. Transfer to a bowl and let the flavours mature. Strain the mixture to be left with a delicious, flavoured oil.

To assemble, roll the fillets individually and arrange on a plate. Then garnish with the ginger, chilli and shallot taken from the cured mixture. Last but not least, top with the lemon air, sakura mix and drizzle with coriander oil.

Voila! Delish.

www.ytlhotels.com

 

Maldives Day Five

Last day in the Maldives…so we were all pretty sad! But what a way to end our adventure at Huvafen Fushi…underwater spa treatments, amazing snorkeling around the top of the island, delicious healthy lunch at Raw the innovative ‘raw’ cuisine restaurant and stingray feeding on Stingray Beach. The piece de resistance of our final day was a private Vinum Dinner in Huvafen Fushi’s underground wine cellar. Vinum houses a collection unmatched by any other resort in the world and we enjoyed a six course wine meal with Huvafen’s on island sommelier, Ilyas Easa teaching us all about the wines we were sampling. Executive chef Daniel Johnson had been given the task of matching the menu to the wines and he created a real treat for us…

http://huvafenfushi.peraquum.com

http://www.itcclassics.co.uk

Maldives Day Four

We hit Active for some fun and games at the simulator station…there’s everything from baseball to football, shooting practice to golf available on the coolest simulator system around. It all got a bit competitive!!

We made our way up to the North Male Atoll where NIYAMA’s sister property, Huvafen Fushi can be found. At Huvafen the sand is super soft and the vibe mellow.

An afternoon of snorkeling was in store along the island’s house reef and we couldn’t have had more luck…we spotted a Reef Shark and witnessed a fight between an Octopus and three Grouper Fish…we all thought the Octopus was being bullied however on our return to Float, the watersports centre, we were informed that actually it was probably the Octopus trying to steal the fish eggs…not cool.

Later we took to the water again but this time aboard one of Huvafen’s Dhoni’s for a sunset cruise around the island. A Dhoni is a traditional Maldivian sailboat and Huvafen has five of these 65 foot beauties! We sipped champagne and tucked into delicious nibbles and watched the sunset over the water.

Dinner was at Salt, the very cool overwater restaurant run by Executive Chef Daniel Johnson. The food was delicious, to start I had lobster tail with squid ink followed by seared local yellow fin tuna. We also spotted a couple of nurse sharks hanging around underneath the veranda…a great way to tell the food is yummy.

As you can tell I have a bit of a thing for fish (both alive and on my plate) so the SpaQuarium was a must. The SpaQuarium takes place in the underwater spa and we enjoyed a bit of late night fish gazing and saw some pretty large predator fish cruising around looking for dinner.

http://huvafenfushi.peraquum.com

http://www.itcclassics.co.uk

 

Maldives Day Three

I have big news…I am now the proud mummy of a beautiful baby coral thanks to the amazing Coral Cultivation Initiative set up at NIYAMA. I ‘adopted a coral’ through the scheme which aims to help conserve and enhance the beautiful reef that surrounds NIYAMA. Luke Gordon, the on-island Marine Biologist gave us a small presentation on why the world’s reefs are so important and educated us on why by making this small contribution it will help preserve the reef for years to come.

Luke took us out to the coral nursery where pieces of rescued coral are kept until they are adopted. You then dive down and choose your coral, which you name, tag and place back into the nursery for the coral-minder (Luke) to nurture until it is big enough to be planted onto the reef.

Following the adoption you are given a certificate that details your coral. You receive two follow up emails with an image of how your little guy is doing…the first is at the 6 month mark and the second comes another 6 months later, a year after the adoption…I can’t wait to see how its getting on!

To celebrate the adoption we took ourselves off to Edge, located 500 metres away from the white sands of NIYAMA. Edge is only accessible by boat and is an exclusive overwater restaurant and Lounge. We had the most delicious cocktails whilst watching the sunset from the Edge veranda, followed by the most insane meal prepared for us by Brit chef Arron Rhodes. Arron promised us a schooling of the senses and I can honestly write that we were blown away.

To start with I had been recommended the Scallops in a Sweet Pea Soup which was superb.

For main I went for the Suckling Pig. It was so tender and I could of devoured another plate full!

Our pre pudding Strawberry Jelly and Bubblegum Custard.

PUDDING: A shot of Iced Wine with a Ginger Donut, Chocolate Bubbles and Coconut Salad.

After all that yummy food we decided to put on our dancing shoes and head six metres below sea level to Subsix, the world’s first underwater music club. NIYAMA Live DJ Kris Di Angelis got the party started and we entertained the fish with our epic moves!

It was amazing to gaze into the ocean (without getting wet) and enjoy spying on the underwater world that surrounds Subsix. I especially loved the clown fish that were frolicking about in the spaghetti like coral.

http://niyama.peraquum.com

http://www.itcclassics.co.uk

Maldives Day Two

We woke up to bright sunshine and a full day of fun ahead of us. With sunhat, snorkel and ice cold refreshments to hand we headed to Walla, NIYAMA’s very own deserted island where we enjoyed a morning of snorkeling, sunbathing and pretending to be shipwrecked in the middle of the Indian Ocean. I would highly recommend taking a trip out to Walla, the reef around the island is beautiful, I made friends with a Trumpet fish (although I’m not to sure how keen he was on me??). It was well worth taking a stroll around the island, although at one point we thought we’d been joined by someone else (this was not in my shipwrecked plan)…we soon realised that the other footprints were actually ours (oops!) and that we’d already gone full circuit.

Breaking into a coconut island style (with a rock!!)

On our return to NIYAMA we tucked into a delicious lunch at Epicure, the all day dining restaurant serving everything from Pizza to Sushi to freshly caught reef fish.

We spent the afternoon relaxing by our private pools and then hit LIME spa for some R&R, treat yourself to a NIYAMA full body massage and enjoy the Indian Ocean view. LIME’s Spa Garden is the perfect place to relax after a treatment, we enjoyed a refreshing platter of fruit whilst listening to the birds singing to one another in the tree canopy above us.

My bath tub thanks to my Thakuru Rashud

After dark it all got a bit tribal…at Tribal, the modern campsite dining experience. What a place to spend an evening, the selection of different foods from all over the world was incredible and Ken the Executive Chef was cooking up a storm in the kitchen. He was helping with the decision-making…I decided to leave it to the expert and asked for a surprise, I was not disappointed when my Red Snapper arrived in front of me.

www.niyama.peraquum.com

www.itcclassics.co.uk

Maldives Day One

We have escaped to the Maldives with ITC Classics and wow it’s pretty darn AMAZING! Weather is hot, company great and we are staying in as they say ‘Natures Playground’ NIYAMA. After a pretty long journey we had the most amazing welcome to the island, fresh watermelon mocktails, a Maldivian guitarist and plenty of smiling faces from NIYAMA’s lovely team. Here’s a recap in pictures of our first day on island…

Our mode of transport to NIYAMA

View of the atolls…

Checking into my beach studio with private pool…NICE

My bathroom…the most spectacular outside shower and bathroom ever!

Fahrenheit Bar and cocktail below

Grifco Chats Andaz Amsterdam And Design With Designer Marcel Wanders

Grifco recently had the pleasure to sit down with the world renowned Marcel Wanders, interior designer of the brand new Andaz Amsterdam, which will be opening later this month. We picked Marcel’s brain over coffee at Andaz Liverpool Street about his influences and inspirations designing Andaz Amsterdam while he was in town for London Design Festival.

Grifco: So Marcel, how did it feel to be designing in Amsterdam?

Marcel: It has been really exciting making an amazing hotel in my hometown. My neighbours are going to be there and will tell me if it’s not good, so it’s a challenge! It has been really wonderful for myself as a project. I love the culture and it’s great to be designing in Amsterdam.

Grifco: How do you think your sense of design is affiliated with the Andaz brand?

Marcel: For me, Andaz is a brand that combines a sophisticated lifestyle with high-level service. Andaz wants to be a local brand, so I wanted to make design references to Amsterdam, which an elegant and international clientele would appreciate.

Grifco: The New York Times has described you as the “Lady Gaga of the design world.” What does it feel like to be compared to her?

Marcel: I don’t think it’s that bad to be compared to Lady Gaga! She is different, talented, takes risks, and she’s not afraid to be passionate. Like her, I have important messages to convey. I am trying to do something so different within the world of design.

Grifco: One last questions Marcel, what can we expect from Andaz Amsterdam when we visit next month?

Marcel: Expect to be surprised-that’s all I’m going to tell you!

The 122 room Andaz Amsterdam is located on the site of the former Public Library on Amsterdam’s Prinsengracht and is within close walking distance from the city’s major attractions. It has been designed to offer an inspiring local experience for international visitors and act as a key venue for those who live in the city and want to showcase their heritage and hospitality. Andaz Amsterdam is now accepting reservations for stays from 23 November 2012 onwards.

www.amsterdam.prinsengracht.andaz.hyatt.com/