Monday, 31 October 2011

I fear that I am turning into an alcoholic.

By 0900 I had supped a Dom Perignon 2002, a Bollinger and a vintage Pommery rose ...

By 1100 a smooth gin cocktail had entered my bloodstream

By 1500 I had added a couple of reds - a Craggy Range from NZ ... and a sensational Bordeaux ...

By 1900 I had quaffed more champagne and red wine ... with some whisky ...

Oh dear!

OK - so - the champagne tasting was done in GILT - the hotel's swish bar ... Michele Caggianese was my tutor! He loves his champagnes!

To the main bar at the Rib Room where Head Barman Saverio Vicari made a couple of the signature cocktails ... gin and bitters are a specialty here.

In the afternoon we headed to The Ritz where we filmed a fabulous feature on game birds with the Executive Chef John Williams - ten minutes of highly entertaining television I promise ...

One day to go of London filming!

With Katherine Gordon from the Jumeirah Carlton Tower - thank you for looking after me!
We don't look HAPPY - but we are - it IS 0900 and we have been slurping wonderful wines.
Saverio - the Gin Man
The happiest chef alive - John Williams at The Ritz

Ritz chips ... yum!
The Adorable Amber Aldred - the PR at The Ritz
One of the most beautiful dining rooms in the world - at The Ritz ... anyone want to have dinner with me here?

Sunday, 30 October 2011

The Jumeirah Carlton Tower boasts 216 rooms & suites including the new Royal Suite. Standing at 155 square metres in area ... it offers every luxury you can imagine including a personal butler service, up to four well-appointed and furnished rooms and some of the most amazing views of London from its private balcony.

The hotel is located off Sloane Street - close to one of the most famous shopping streets in the world.

The Peak Health club is filled with the latest fitness equipment, numerous massage & beauty treatment rooms ... and studios for yoga and personal fitness training.

On the 2nd floor there is an amazing stainless steel swimming pool ... which sits under a glass roof .... and Peak Golf – you chance to play all the finest golf courses in the world ... ! Virtually!

The champagne bar GILT offers superb cocktails, the Chinoiserie – all day international dining and on the 9th floor there’s the “Club” ... which offers users of the Peak and hotel guests a more healthy option.

The Rib Room is one of London's most famous steakhouses. It was opened in 1961 - the same year as the hotel ... and has just reopened after a massive refurbishment, It looks fabulous ... and there's a new Head Chef - Ian Rudge.

We cooked first thing in the morning with the hotel's Executive Chef - Simon Young. We prepared a grouse dish which was delicious.

In the afternoon it was a steak dish (I don't eat beef so I persuaded a hotel manager to try the dish for me)! We also made a Dover Sole dish which was fabulous! Amazing wines accompanied the dishes - a Chateau Talbot and a Chablis ... hmmmmmm!!!

SO tired! Another big day ahead tomorrow ...

 With Ian
 The beef dish
 The hotel's delectable Ms Hagen - my official food taster!
Dover Sole

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Greetings from the Jumeirah Carlton Tower - here in lovely London!

It's been a looooooooooooong day ... and Tim believes that we have filmed more today than any other day in the ten years we have worked together.

Sadly checked out of 45 Park Lane early in the morning but we headed up to Davidoff on St James. Here I spent a glorious couple of hours with Eddie Sahakian (proprietor) talking after-dinner cigars. Then Alexandre Quintin - brand ambassador for Remy Martin - jumped into the hot-seat ... and MADE me taste Louis XIII cognac! It was so tough - cigars and fine cognac! Ha! What a life ...

From there, we headed to Wilton's which was founded in 1742. It's a superb restaurant on Jermyn Street that is a London institution ... fabulous food and wines ...

I cooked with Head Chef Andrew Turner .... three dishes ... a) lobster thermidor b) grouse c) Eton tidy (Eton mess that was tidy!) ... and then a cheese & wine piece with the restaurant manager and Sommelier ...

I am just tired tonight ... so it's sleep ... after a wee dance around my suite ... ha! Moves like Jagger ....! Ha!

Last night, two of the loves of my life - Adorable Julia and Darling Jen sent me this photo - taken in LA at the Beverly Wilshire ... I was SO jealous ... BUT
at that moment, while I was enjoying a fantastic dinner at CUT - the Wolfgang Puck signature restaurant at 45 Park Lane - when my dear friend Radha Arora (ex-Beverly Wilshire in LA ... now Rosewood Hotels) walked past! What cuddles we had! Ahhhhhhhhhh!
Cigar at 0900 ...
With the brilliant and delightful Eddie Sahakian ...
Alexandre and the Louis XIII
Yes - I am a wee squiffy on VERY expensive cognac! 1030 hrs!
Wilton's of Jermyn Street
Enri Cesarato (Sommelier), Vincent Goyon (Restaurant Manager), lovely Lina Trakymaite, James Grant (General Manager) ...
Chef Andrew Turner ... I think we were supping a 2002 Bollinger Rose ... yes we were!

Friday, 28 October 2011

Greetings from 45 Park Lane - the newest Dorchester Collection hotel. It sits next to The Dorchester and its all 45 bedrooms and 1 penthouse suite overlooks Hyde Park.

I have really missed filming in London but I am here now for 5 days! Whoo-hoo!

SO - the hotel ... opened on September 1st 2011 ... is VERY different from the Dorch ... it's very cool ... dark lines ... chrome ... plush carpets & furniture ... Brit Art (Hirst, Sir Peter Blake etc) ... lovely chandeliers ... quite Art Nouveau ... lovely comfortable beds ... B&O hardware ... touchscreen controls ...

The signature restaurant is CUT of Wolfgang Puck fame ... the Exec Chef is a fabulous LA dude - David McIntyre. We cooked an outstanding lobster dish for a Culinary Travels episode ...

We also filmed with the gorgeous Vanessa Cinti ... sommelier ... who found a bottle of my favourite red from Oregon - the Joseph Drouhin ...

Yes - I like this hotel ...

My arrival at 45 PL
With the totally adorable Ania .... and David
David McIntyre - CUT

With the lovely Vanessa Cinti - Sommelier

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Greetings from 45 Park Lane! I am staying here as I am filming here tomorrow. 45 PL sits next to The Dorchester ... and as it happens it is part of The Dorchester Collection!

Review tomorrow ...

Today has been Botswana edit day ... and sign-off for the Sweden show ... both fabulous!

an African elephant ... nice but not as nice as an Indian elephant ...
The Swedish Chef ... Mathias Dalhgren - 3 Michelin stars ... at The Grand Hotel - Stockholm
My Suite at The Grand Hotel

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

I have spent the WHOLE day at home ... ! The WHOLE day!

I am back in the edit suite tomorrow  - Botswana, I believe ... and then we are filming in London for 6 days ... some fun cuisine, wine, spirits, cocktails features ... cigars and Louis XIII too! Whoo-hoo!

Today is actually Diwali ... the Festival of Lights ... and India and the some of the UK is shining with candles, fireworks, bonfires, bright lights and oil lamps ... sweet.

Peace and Happiness my friends ... Peace and Happiness ...

India last night ...

Tuesday, 25 October 2011



OK - so there is a huge thunderstorm raging outside, I have just eaten a huge slice of chocolate cheesecake and I feel rather sick, my office smells of cigar (which is quite nice), Moo is constantly begging for treats and I am exhausted - BUT - I am home! Only for two days though ... as I have filming from Thursday!

The flight home was quite startling. It was a 747-700 ... carrying a total of 42 passengers! The crew were bemused and pleased ... in equal measures!

Oh - by the way:

One of my best memories of India ... on the last day ... at Pench National Park ... dining with a stunning female elephant!

My last Indian sunset

Monday, 24 October 2011

We left Bhagvan (Pench National Park) at 0400 and were driven the two hours to Nagpur. From there it was an hour flight and now I am in Mumbai and have just hour until I fly home.

Quick bit of shopping - Indian Johnnie Walker Black Label is 43% alcohol ... everywhere else it is 40%! Bought a bottle for the collection!

Two quick observations ... the lovely lady who picked me up outside the Departures Terminal and walked me through Customs, Immigration, Duty Free and finally to the Lounge would NOT accept a tip! Absolutely NOT! The only "non-professional-manager" I have met in India who has done so! I was impressed and amazed!

BUT why do Indians hate Indians? I have to say that EVERYWHERE - without exception, service levels for "non-whites" is far inferior to those for "whites". I am lucky I have Tim and James with me or I would be starving, cab-less and probably still in Mumbai Immigration!


Sunday, 23 October 2011

I am not a particularly emotional chap but I have to say that I had a wee tear (or was it dust?) in my eye as I performed my "end of episode" piece to camera.

In a decade of producing this show - this India trip has been the most challenging. Politics, politics and politics has been the biggest headache ... but thankfully once we got our heads around that, I think we have filmed two fabulous and memorable episodes.

This is also James' last big shoot as he leaves us to pursue international fame & fortune. He will be missed.

I am going to miss India ... I am going to miss the wonderful people we have met ... and I am going to miss the amazing animals we have seen on safari ... yes .. the tiger is awesome BUT for me, the elephant rules ... always!

Home tomorrow!

Feeding the ellie!
KT Kaustubh Thomare and Ratna - dream team :)

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Today is ALL about Tim! It's his birthday!

We have worked together for over a DECADE now and it seems that I am always taking him away from this family on this birthday! I have done so again this year!

Tim is one of the nicest, kindest and most thoughtful people in the world - and a great cameraman too!


OK - today I am "properly" in Baghvan Lodge - next to the Pench National Park.

There are 12 cottages here ... made of Sal wood (more water resistant during monsoon etc). There's a swimming pool, Jiva Spa (Taj!), library and wonderful restaurant/guest area. Each cottage has a bedroom, bathroom, outdoor shower and a machan. In days of old, hunters used to use machans (treehouses) to relax and sit in and wait to shoot tigers ... well now a machan is there to read a book ... or play chaupad (a board game) ...

Each cottage has a view over a tributary of the Pench River ... at the moment, the river bed is almost dry ... but during monsoon it can be as high as 1.5 metres ...

I interviewed the hotel manager Brian D'Cruz - what a nice fellow.

It's been dosa for breakfast and lunch so far! Yumyum! Happy Happy!!

Tomorrow - MORE safari! Yay!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Last night, my dreams were filled with tigers ... it was divine! I also had an odd (& out of place) dream of being in a fast moving car where I could control left & right but not the speed (there were no accidents) ... ideas please?

Up very early and checked-out of the lovely Banjaar Tola in the Kanha National Park and was driven the five and a half hours to Baghvan in the Pench National Park.

After yesterday's excitement (and thank you for all the positive comments!) I was worried that today I would be rather deflated! Actually not - I am full of beans! We even stopped to feed some rather cheeky monkeys on the way here ... and I really was quite excited by this! The macaques are - apparently - less friendly than the langurs ... but they love apples, bananas and Oreos ... yes ... Oreos!

Sadly I am still a wee under the weather ... so it's bed for me this afternoon (therefore the early diary) ... I have three days left in India and I am going to enjoy them ... every single second!

Ratna Singh - my naturalist - the ONLY female one in the whole of India! She always wanted to be a naturalist ... and as a child had TWELVE dogs as pets ... oh and two cheetah cubs! I am in awe!
Tim & friends begging by the side of the road :)

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Photo taken at 10:32 this morning in Kanha National Park ... by me!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Another day of the jackal ... but sadly not of the tiger ... hey ho, there’s always tomorrow!

Sadly I am not feeling 100% - it has nothing to do with the food – that’s been excellent – I am just run down! I need sleep, mixed with paracetamol and hot lemon n’honey.

So despite best efforts, we are still tigerless BUT we did see more jackals, gaur and deer ...

My guide on this trip is the wonderful Ratna Singh. She is a naturalist here and has been in the business of safari-guiding for years. She knows everything!

The Lodge here at Banjaar Tola is split into East and West – identical camps with 9 tents in each. Each camp (1 km apart) has a swimming pool, mobile “spa”, outside & inside guest area and deck. There are 70 + staff for 36 maximum guests - a wonderful ratio. The cuisine is superb ... and is cooked a kilometre away and “brought in” to small satellite kitchens where it is garnished and served. It’s an excellent routine...

The camp has a river running to the west of it – Banjaar – and on the other side is the 2000 square kilometres of the Kanha National Park.

My suite (5) in the West camp is around 80 metres in area ... it’s a fixed tent built on stilts ... it has a HUGE bed (with electric blanket! Fabulous) – pressed bamboo floors – free-standing bath – shower – wash-basins – A/C – internet – telephone - no TV & radio ... it is rather luxurious! And I love it ...

The camp is a joint-venture between &Beyond and Taj Resorts & Hotels – creating Taj Safaris. The 4 camps in India are all eco-friendly by the way ... I am rather impressed, honoured and happy to be here...

 With Gil - the General Manager

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