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Monday, Feb 17, 2003

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Bowled over by food

A spate of food festivals and theme dinners in the city hotels find February a busy month for food and cricket buffs.

The Myanmarese Food Festival at Le Meridian showcased their culture too. Picture shows the food, dance and musical instruments of the land.

IF YOU live in Kochi, love cricket and food and have money to spend, consider yourself lucky. Cashing in on the World Cup fever, this month hotels in the city are abuzz with special events ranging from world cup promotions to food festivals. International chefs, exotic dishes, seductive cocktails are all part of this jamboree.

But quite apart from the cricket theme that underlies all this excitement, Taj Residency is promoting their Utsav restaurant as the ultimate destination for North Indian cuisine. "We are changing the menu and centring it on four distinct regional cuisines- Rajasthani, Punjabi, Kashmiri and Lucknavi,'' Food and Beverages Manager Mr. Bharath Maharathy informs. He adds that his hotel is also planning a series of food festivals from the end of the month. This will begin with a nine-day Mexican food festival attended by two renowned Mexican chefs. Starting this month, theme dinners have become a regular feature on Saturdays at The Bubble Café. Thus far the restaurant has had Coastal, Mexican and Cantonese theme dinners. "On the 22nd we are having the Parsi theme followed by French and Caribbean theme dinners. These theme dinners are based on world cuisine. Meanwhile, at the Utsav we have been having food promos spread over three days and centred on the weekends. From February 21 to 23 we will be having a Maharashtra food promo,'' says Mr Maharathy.

At Le Meredien, a four-day Burmese food, art and music festival, which began on Thursday (February 13), showcased authentic Burmese cuisine, traditional dance performances, live lacquer ware demonstrations, Burmese tapestry and puppets. Le Meredien flew down three chefs, three dancers and a lacquer ware artist from Myanmar to provide customers a rare glimpse of this secretive country. According to Chef Khin Hnin Aye, Burmese cuisine comprises of varieties of rice as staples and dishes comprising of chicken, fish, prawn and lamb curries. Though their cuisine does include vegetarian dishes, non-vegetarian dishes are more common. Most of their dessert preparations are coconut milk based and their salads include pickled tea leaves and ginger salad.

World cup promotions and competitions have made it to our living rooms courtesy live television and now hotels have geared up to provide cricket lovers with the right ambience to watch their favourite teams battle it out. With large television screens beaming the matches, a sporty décor, competitions galore and cocktails and dishes named after cricketing legends, the hotels are not leaving anything out.

At the Waterfront Café, Taj Malabar has three food festivals back to back to cover the entire world cup season. The series began with a two-week Mumbai street food festival, which concludes on February 22. At Sachin's Chowpatty, as the festival is called, the fare includes chats, Bhel Puri, Sev Puri, Pav Bhaji, Channa Batura and Kulfis. Dravid's Coastal Favourites takes off next with Konkani and Malabari grilles and curries. Bhajji Da Dhabba is a nod at Harbhajan Singh's homeland and its tasty Punjabi food. Tandoori Chicken, Chicken Butter Masala, Makii Ka Roti, Sarson Ka Saag, Pindi Chole, Dal Makhani, Gajjar Halwa and Firni are all part of the menu. At their Mattanchery Bar, guests can watch matches on a giant screen and drink all the liquor they want at a price tag of Rs 750. Manager (Sales & Marketing) Genevieve Mathias informs, "Our highlight is the Select Eleven contest, where you choose your dream team. At the end of each week, we will see how your dream team has performed and we have lots of Taj Holidays, prizes and surprises for the winners." Not to be left out, Taj Residency has their Super Sixes scheme where four beers or selected spirits and a mini meal are on offer for a price tag of Rs 666. Their bartender has a special cocktail for those who win their competitions. At Casino Hotel, cocktails are named after legendary players, mocktails after captains and snacks after teams. At their Tharavadu restaurant, dishes are named after stadiums and a daily buffet will feature food from the countries that are playing that particular day. So the privileged can dig into Chidambaram Kunnu Veruval, Basin Reserve Kiwi Torta, Lord Snapper Colbert, MCG Meat Pie and their like.

At the Le Meredien's Jules Bar, bartenders are dressed in cricket whites and cocktails include Sachin's Secret, which their food and beverages manager explains is whiskey and angostura bitters on the rocks garnished with caramel sugar. Whiskey is also reportedly Tendulkar's favourite drink. The Jules Bar also has on hand some exciting cocktails like The Spinner which is a blend of tequila, gin and vodka served on crushed ice, All Out which is white rum with a whiff of fresh coconut milk and cream and Lara's Tunes- a Caribbean combination of dark rum and khalua (coffee liqueur) fizzed with Pepsi.


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