Mediterranean aromas

HAVE YOU gazed at a piece of abstract art and tried to understand it? The more you try, the harder it becomes. I am yet to come to grips with Cubism, even those by Picasso himself. Forget Cubism, these days even a simple meal can leave you undecided, confused.

When Cedars (ph:24475073) on the Gandhi Mandapam Road, Kotturpuram, served Lebanese, life was much simpler. They did serve some good food. Pricey, yes, but the mezze or small eats was tasty with a definite ethnic stamp. So there I was, eager to repeat the experience. I am still trying to figure out the new Mediterranean menu. The sunny, tasteful ambience and the courteous service do remain unchanged.

The haziness was there from the beginning. Though the grilled eggplant with tomato, garlic and parsley was good, the crab cakes just managed to pass muster. When priced at Rs. 90 and Rs.130 respectively, expectations tend to be high.

Who can resist the romance of Greece? As a fan of rum and ouzo swigging, hearty eating Zorba, the Greek who converts food into an unmatched exhilaration in words, zeroing in on kleptiko (Rs.200), the Greek fish was a natural choice. Just as everything in the area, kleptiko too has history. Cypriots claim that it were the revolutionaries of 19th Century who invented the dish. While in hiding, they had to cook their meat in sealed pots so that the aroma would not betray their location.

Dum pukht, Mediterranean style! Traditionally, Kleftiko is made with lamb wrapped in foil. At Cedars, it is done with fish. Innovation is good. It is just that the pieces of seer fish on top of the rice soaked in broth were slightly overdone and hardly had any flavour.

Moroccan lamb stew or tangine (Rs. 200) came next. Again it was the same old bland story. Where did the famous Moroccan eas el hanout or the spice mixture (of 20 to 30 spices) go? The break came with pizza con pesto (Rs. 160). The pizza with fried thin crust topped with mushrooms, pesto, onions and peppers and chicken was like a ray of sunlight on a cloudy day.

The desserts were crepe Normandy (Rs.1 20) and chocolate hazelnut mousse topped with brandied orange (Rs. 130). The first apple stuffed crepes served with ice cream was quite engaging. The mousse could have been lighter.


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