Eating Out Take your taste buds to the party at Le Meridien’s Fusion Food Festival

The Fusion Food Festival at Le Meridien’s Latest Recipe is an exercise in making up your mind, for every offering straddles multiple cuisines. Continental cooking styles meet South Indian staples; Asian spices grace Italian dishes and Middle-Eastern traditions dilute European sauces. By the end, you’ve got the world hopping on your palate and a brain well-jogged by deciphering what comes from where.

To begin with, we sample some grilled fish marinated with gun powder. “We’ve kept Coimbatore tastes in mind while creating these dishes. They’re all a product of the mixing and matching of cuisines we’ve been experimenting with, to produce something that clicks,” says sous chef Suresh Natarajan. His approach seems right, for the fish is done to perfection and the sharp spices of gunpowder make the oddest but somehow fitting coating.

Along similar lines is the sesame grilled lamb chops where the chewy meat is hidden under a thorough barrage of crunchy sesame seeds. Up next are small ground mutton balls tossed in brown sage butter sauce — essentially South Indian urundai soaked in a Continental seasoning.

The absolute winner in the non-vegetarian section though, is Korean spicy chicken served with rava uppuma. Who’d have thought our everyday uppuma would cozy up so comfortably in a Korean gravy? But it beautifully does.

A close second is the chicken shawarma served with salad dressed in aioli sauce. The sweetness of the aioli’s mayonnaise well balances the shawarma’s Tandoori masala marination. The meat texture too varies from some parts done soft, to others deeply browned.

The vegetarian section furthers the chefs’ experimental whims. We open with what look like regular kuzhipaniyarams, only, they’re stuffed with either wasabi, basil and garlic, or spicy schezwan sauces.

To up the surprise quotient there’s poriyal made from zucchini and bell peppers and pasta cooked with chettinad masala. While the poriyal doesn’t score too high, the pasta makes for an apt marriage between Italy and India.

There’s also the suitably bland wok-tossed veggie salad with rosemary and olives, and the slightly odd snake gourd grilled with herbs. What works best here is the kadai paneer au gratin with its generous helpings of cheese and the distinctly Indian-flavoured ratatouille.

The fusion festival sadly doesn’t experiment too much on the dessert front but Latest Recipe does offer its regular menu of desserts and if you worship at the altar of chocolate like I do, there’s plenty to keep you happy. Chocolate tart, fountain, fondue, ice cream, mousse and cake sit pretty beside a coconut cream caramel pudding which holds it own. Over all, the festival is one crafted with scoops of imagination, dollops of creativity and a gentle sprinkling of the wacky.

The festival is on for dinner at Latest Recipe to May 5 2013. It is part of Latest Recipe’s regular buffet and is priced at Rs. 999 exclusive of taxes. For details, contact 0422-2364343