Show of culinary skill

MMMM YUMMY A pasta creation PHOTO: R. RAGU

MMMM YUMMY A pasta creation PHOTO: R. RAGU  

The Italian fare at The Verandah is not haute, but surely hearty

It is that time of year when classical concerts have petered out. The weather is still nippy. The heavy Kancheepurams have been folded and put away, and out come silk shirts and slinky numbers as the annual Leather Fair is round the corner. The other yearly ritual, after all it has been going on for almost ten years or may be even longer, the Taj Connemara's Italian food festival is on.When an event becomes an annual thing, a progress report is called for, don't you think? The buffet table at the Verandah has gone past the minestrone-pizza-Alfredo sauce routine. However, some ghosts linger like the Calzone and gratinated cauliflowers. But then, it's a buffet and the size of the spread matters. Besides some repetitions are kind of comforting. The refurbished Verandah (ph: 5500 0000) is simply gorgeous and has showcased its long past with elegance and class. The Raj era style waiters' uniform is a fine touch. Now, for the food. The eggplant roulade proved the unfailing formula - aubergine plus sundried tomatoes plus olive oil plus cheese is equal to mmmm... yum yummy - yet again. Let's move to the heavier stuff. The pastas, Farfalle with mushrooms, Linguine with clams and mussels and Fusilli with chicken offered variety. But the first two showed the effects of staying too long in the chafing dish, dry around the edges. These weren't the only victims of continuous heat exposure, Risotto too suffered.What chef Nicholas Fernandes offers is not haute Italian. It is simple, tasty, everyday hearty fare - chicken with mixed sweet pepper or cuttle fish with asparagus and potato or Champignon, a small mushroom, stuffed, or new potato with sweet pepper and onion.


If there is a deft hand at work in the main fare, it is talent on show at the dessert table. It's time to sing Hallelujah, for the mousse regime that has relentlessly ruled this part of the buffet seems to have passed on! Let's say hello to orange crème brulee, coffee panacotta and tiramisu. These may not be original, but certainly a pleasurable experience.The buffet comes with a price tag of Rs.650 and 10.5 per cent tax per person. Does that hurt? If it does, there is glass of Italian wine free to drown your pain. The festival is on till January 25.MARIEN MATHEW

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