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Be a 'Roman' in Hyderabad

Master chefs from Capri, Italy, dish out Italian delicacies at `Encounters', Taj Krishna. Check out food of the peninsula at lunch and dinner till November 24.

FILLING & TOPPINGS: Chef Giannicola Colucci tosses up the dough.

YOU MUST be wondering how can one be a Roman in the twin cities? Well by attending the Italian Food Festival at `Encounters', Taj Krishna where Italy is `encapsulated' at least cuisine wise. At the entrance of the coffee shop look to the left and one can see a whole lot of breads (from the peninsula) in interesting shapes and sizes. Walk in and see the Italian flag just above the food counter. If you are lucky you may spot the two master chefs Manuele Cataruzza and Giannicola Colucci who have flown from the Grand Hotel Quisisana, Capri, Italy tossing up a pasta or checking out the buffet immediately on entering. If you don't, you need not worry for surely one can catch up with these chefs who serve `cordon bleu' cuisine. More so, since they work at a hotel which has crème de la crème - guests like Ernst Hemmingway and Tom Cruise.

Mention Italy and you think that there are just two delightful dishes - pizza and pasta. But at Encounters you will be treated to many more Italian delicacies cooked just the way it's cooked back home - food cooked in olive oil and red and white wines.

This Italian spread is laid out along with the regular buffet. "We aim to give flavours of the world to people by getting international chefs to impart the authenticity," says Vijay Banja, Executive Chef. He quickly adds "we have gone all out to get the very best of Italy here. A lot of foodstuff has been brought by the chefs from Italy like Parma ham (which is expensive), olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and the wines." The menu for the lunch and dinner buffet will vary from meal to meal (perhaps some popular items may figure in both). The names are tongue-twisting but do not worry - the English equivalents are mentioned below.

There is a soup to begin with and quite a few salads (known as insalata) - pasta (insalata di pasta alla putanesca), tuna (insalata di torma), octopus (insalata di polipo) and Parma ham (insalata capriccosa). The main dishes include a pasta (penne pasticciati - in tomato sauce), risotto di funghi (typical Italian rice cooked in wine and mushrooms), melanzane parmigiana (layers aubergines and cheese bake), cipolle e pepperoni farci (a tasty stuffing on top of onions) for the vegetarians and dentice con olive e capper (red snapper), pollo stufato con sedano e pomodorini (chicken with tomatoes with a transparent sauce), turkey, calamari alla diavola (sea food as seafood is a favourite in the peninsula) for the non-veggies. If you find the taste bland (most will find so) perk it up with pounded chillies and herbs placed on the table.

Those who want to have some pasta and pizza cooked at the live counter can opt for it too. A variety of pastas and sauces are available and the pizzas with a crisp base come topped with olives.

At the dessert counter one may find apple torte (a soft one which melts in the mouth) panni cotta con nurtilli (a mousse with blue berries) and a pistachio `pudding'.

PIZZA POWER: Chef Manuelle Cataruzza takes out a pizza from the oven.

The Italian chefs are visiting India for the first time and they are also having a taste of Indian food. "I like Indian food but of course I find it spicy," says Manuele Cataruzza. On the usage of wine Manuele says: "wine (red and white) is used to impart taste and flavour - it complements the taste).

If you miss eating the food at Hyderabad one can check it out at Taj Palace, New Delhi as the festival will be held there between November 29 and December 15.

The authentic meal is heavy on the purse as it comes at five star rates and if you can surely afford this meal then one can walk out saying Veni, Vedi, Vesci (I came, I saw, I ate unlike Caesar's, I conquered) as mentioned in the card on the table.


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