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An Italian affair

The Italian food festival lays emphasis on pasta and rice preparations in a multi-course fare

Photo: Mohd.Yousuf

FOR MANY in this part of the world, the Nicholas Cage and Cher-starrer Moonstruck, a romantic comedy from 1987 set in an Italian American community, offered the first flavour of this fascinating cuisine. Much like the other world cuisines, Italian spread is known for its eclectic ingredients, methods of preparation and various courses. If monosodium glutamite (MSG) and soya sauce mark the Chinese fare and masala-based gravies stand responsible for the popularity of chicken tikka and egg curry overseas, a range of salsas or sauces including the famous Tabasco red pepper sauce, cheeses — Emmental, Parmesan and others, spices rosemary, thyme and basil leaves, go into the making of Italian classic pizzas, breads and pastas.

The latter, made with semolina from durum wheat, are a good source of complex carbohydrates, apart from packing in vitamin B niacin and iron. These served with vegetables and meat and sauces, comprise a wholesome meal on the Mediterranean spread, as one finds at the ongoing Italian food festival at Mischief Dining Bar (MPM Mall, Abids, Tel: 55250055/56, Mobile: 98854-61663; lunch — 12 noon to 4 p.m. and dinner — 7 p.m. to 11.30 p.m.). "If you notice the trend , the new restaurants are serving a multi-cuisine fare; the difference is that these are all world cuisines. We are getting there. People are slowly opting for global flavours here," says Sharad Maheswari, COO Maheshwari Group, MPM Mall.

The festival lays emphasis on pasta and risotto or rice preparations, with a multi course menu that holds antipasti or appetisers, and primo and secondo-- main course respectively. Appetisers and soups in Italian cuisine are light and offer apt zest to embark heartily onto the main course. "We have lined up an elaborate menu for the festival. We have a variety of pastas — spaghetti, fettuccine, revioli, penne, fussili and macaroni, and rice. Apart from the varied shapes like spiral, flat and shell, we also will be serving new spinach or tomato-flavoured pastas during the festival. While traditionally sticky brown rice is used in the authentic preparation, we do have a wide rice option," says B.K.Yadav, restaurant manager Mischief Dining Bar.

So far, some of the popular dishes at the festival have been Lasagnette bolognaise - pasta sheets interleaved with chicken meat sauce, sprinkled with cheese and baked as also the vegetarian Lasagnette alla diavola, a seasonal vegetables and tangy sweet and sour alternative. Apart from the baked pastas, you can also make your own plate — choose from the kind of pasta you want and its accompaniment, from a Funghi formaggi e patate al goulash — whole mushrooms, potato cubes and cottage cheese sautéed in butter and cooked in hot and sour tomato sauce to a Partafoglio valdostana — escalope of chicken stuffed with cheese and mushroom and grilled, served in a lemon butter sauce. Apart from poultry, one finds an elaborate line up of meat and seafood preparations.

Ignore the complicated names, remembering a few words such as pesce for fish, pollo and gambroni, for chicken and prawns respectively, would make the job of choosing much easier. "There are special sauces to go with the vegetarian and non-vegetarian preparations respectively. Italian sauces are mostly bland . We are providing table condiments such as black pepper, chilly sauce and chilly flakes just in case someone wants to spice up his platter," he adds.

And finally indulge in the famed Tiramisu — layers of sponge cake soaked in kahlua liquor and mascarpone cheese. These and other cold desserts sure add zing to the Italian fiesta that wraps up on August 15.


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