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Striking a goal with forks and knives

All game for an exotic meal. — Photo: K. Gopinathan

IT WAS all about snacking and scoring at Coorg, The Coffee Shop at Grand Ashok, Kumarakrupa Road. Food and football connoisseurs walked into the restaurant that displayed a miniature model of a football court at the entrance and had the doorway designed to look like a goal post.

Grand Ashok has been organising several events every football season. And this year, instead of the all-too-predictable activities such as word games and quiz contests related to the World Cup, the focus was "just on" food. Once inside the cosy ambience of Coorg (a 24-hour restaurant), there was the special football menu to take your pick from. So you did all the snacking while the players (that one could watch on the television screens strategically placed in the dining area) did all the scoring. The menu had football terms thrown in in good measure to add to the football ambience: dressing room (starters), half time (main course), and extra time (desserts), kick off (alcohol), and game over (milkshakes).

The food took a while to arrive (the television kept one occupied, though). But what came on the plate was worth the wait. The well-mannered and friendly staff pleased one as much as the taste of food. Filling the sparkling white plates were colourful delicacies such as soccer salsa (Mexican pancake stuffed with meat and kidney beans), salad, blanco blast (cheese stuffed green peppers with spiced tomato) and so on. Finally, placing the little vegetable balls (in the shape of footballs), the chef proudly announced: "Now the ball is in your court, the game shall begin." The food, rich in cream and cheese, was not too harsh on the tongue, but was surely heavy on the stomach, not particularly suitable for the calorie conscious or those who have a weak digestive system.

Finally it was the desserts — Crème arsenal (lychee mousse with fresh cream) and bocca juniors delight (praline custard with fresh fruits). The former was so smooth and creamy that it almost melted in your mouth, while the latter, with lots of fruits, also had delicious crunchy bits of caramel.

"It's not just the cooking that matters. Attention has to be paid to presentation too. In-take of food is also a form of art. One has to learn to maintain a perfect balance in the use of ingredients and also be disciplined in one's food habits," says Vincent Joseph, Senior Executive Chef, Grand-International Hotel, Delhi. He is in the City at Grand Ashok to "revamp and relaunch the food and beverage concept". This soft-spoken man has not only innovated a variety of food in several styles, but his signature creations are served at popular restaurants such as Baluchi, Woks, and The Grill (an interactive European restaurant) in the Capital. He has authored books such as The Exotic Indian Cuisine, which is published in English, and two foreign languages. Having visited Japan, he is "greatly influenced by their food habits" and tries to incorporate their methods in his creations. Mr. Joseph is working along with P. Ramchandran, Sr. Executive Chef, Grand Ashok.

The bad news is that the special football menu, Snack and Score, was available only till yesterday. But the good news is that it plans to host a variety of other events to "have fun with food".

The regular menu, which has a wide range of food for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians, will soon also feature some innovations by Mr. Joseph and Mr. Ramchandran.

The regular coffee shop's menu includes dishes such as murg malai tikka, mutton sheek kabab, murg rangeela (chicken kababs, in three different colours, stuffed into a parotha), and masala grill steak, which are highly recommended by the chefs. The food is cooked in such a way that it is not too spicy. So, the flavour of the meat and the vegetables is retained.

Food for two costs Rs. 500, which will surely make the middle-class think twice. But if you really want to pamper yourself and treat yourself to some exotic Mexican and European cuisine, then it is worth indulging in such expensive treat.

Grand Ashok can be contacted on 2269462 or 2250202.


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