Independence Day Eve, Revisited

Emerging from the pages of history and the archives of the iconic Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai, is a fine dining promotion that celebrates 70 years of India’s independence from British Rule. At Encounters, the all-day diner at The Taj Krishna Hotel, here in Hyderabad, Executive Chef Nitin Mathur and his talented team recreated the same… Continue reading Independence Day Eve, Revisited

Brunch, The Italian Way

There is something about Sunday brunches that I associate with relaxed luxury. It is an unhurried meal; usually has a vast spread, some exotic cocktails, and, I can spend two hours or more, just eating, and not feel guilty about it. And, the new Sunday Brunch launched at Tre-Forni, Park Hyatt’s Italian restaurant, qualifies on all the counts that define a gourmet meal, had at a leisurely pace.

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Put together superlatively by Michele Prevedello, Executive Chef, and Daniele Macioce, Chef De Cuisine, the brunch can be experienced at the Al fresco terrace dining area and inside, in the main restaurant, to the beat of Ibiza lounge music.

Instead of wines, there are a bunch of cocktails you can choose from; I had the Spicy Mary, a fiery mix of vodka, Sriracha sauce, vinegar and light soya sauce. Living up to its name, the drink was spicy, but it gets all your tastebuds tingling; and the fiery element can be offset with some olive bread.

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The spread is vast, and that is understating it. There are 32 options in desserts alone!  I didn’t know where to start. So I stuck to the conventional route and went for the antipasti first. The ones I recommend are the Mixed lettuce, Poached Pear, Goat Cheese, and Walnut Salad, with Balsamic dressing; Sliced Bocconcini with Tomato, and Basil Pesto [one of my favourites]; and the Confit Salmon, with Potato, Olives and Celery with Lemon Dressing.

burrata-salad

There are plenty of appetisers, a selection of grills, a live pasta counter, pizzas, gnocchi and spaghetti, some home style soups, a selection of hams and cheeses, one pot stews and more. There are also live counters where you can toss your own salad or have a pasta made with ingredients of your choice.

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I would say, give the pizzas a miss this time round. Instead, try the unusual Herb Crusted Betki, served with Roasted Tomatoes, Baked Potatoes, Roasted Mushrooms, and Lemon Caper Sauce; an array of meats and seafood, freshly grilled and served at your table; Spaghetti with Anchovies; Salmon Ravioli, Potato Gnocchi, with Blue Cheese Sauce and Walnuts; various focaccia breads, etc.

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Luckily, the desserts are displayed near the bar area, at the entrance, so you can take a good look at those enticing little bites even before you start your meal. Eat as much as you like, but, whatever else you miss, don’t miss the desserts. Dark Chocolate Vortex, Coconut Mousse, Panacotta, Coffee Chocolate Cake, Assorted Chocolates, Profiteroles, and many more. Take tiny bite-sized portions if you must, but do try out as many as you can.

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For those of you who like a hearty Italian meal, and have the time on any given Sunday, the brunch at Tre-Forni at Rs 2850 plus taxes per person, is an experience to be savoured with each delicious bite.

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Every Sunday

Venue: Tre-Forni Restaurant & Bar

Timing: 12 pm to 4 pm

Price: Rs 2850 per person plus taxes

For Reservations, call: +9140 4949 1222

 

 

Mad About Mushrooms

 

mushrooms

There are few ingredients, in my opinion, that can hold their own and stand out, even when mixed with several other, sometimes, even stronger, vegetables/meats/spices. Mushrooms, in all their varieties, fall in this category. Whether tossed into an Asian stir fry, pureed into a creamy soup; or mixed into an Indian curry with other vegetables; these versatile funghi impart their own personality to a dish, while not taking away from the overall taste experience.

Full marks then, to Executive Chef Manek Magotra, of The Trident Hotel, Hitech City, Hyderabad, for envisioning and creating Funghi Fiesta – a food festival centred around the magic of mushrooms. No, he did not use the magic variety which gives you a high; but the ones he did use were – Shiitake, Porcini, Oyster, Morel, Portobello, White Fungus and Button Mushrooms.

These versatile little funghi have always been a favourite of mine, from childhood, when we ate the Morel mushroom in a pulao; and a dried mushroom only available in the North of India, which we called dhingri, in a curry. These are now available for a king’s ransom, at over Rs 40,000 a kg. But, the more common ones thankfully, don’t cost as much, so one can still relish them.

We started the dinner with the appetiser – Chocolate and Crumb Fried Button Mushrooms, served with saffron cream, pepper coulis and Balsamic reduction – which set the mood for the rest of the evening.

starter mushroom

The chocolate coated one was created on the lines of Umami – described by Wikipedia as –  Umami (/uˈmɑːmi/), a savoury taste, is one of the five basic tastes (together with sweet, sour, bitter, and salty). A word from the Japanese –  Umami can be translated as a pleasant savoury taste. Coated with chocolate, with sea salt sprinkled on top, it was unusual. But the Crumb Fried Button Mushroom stole its thunder, if I had to compare them.

The Wild Mushroom Cappuccino, a frothy soup, had an extra edge to it with the espresso foam that had been blended in. I thought I was mistaken when I got the familiar whiff of coffee from the soup, but Chef explained that the espresso gave the soup a twist which has proven to be quite popular with guests. And rightly so, because it did taste different from the usual mushroom soup.

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Then came the Pizza, made with an Oriental crust, topped with seafood, white fungus, galangal and lemongrass.

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The lemongrass and galangal flavours were extremely subtle, while the white fungus and the salmon dominated the dish. A pizza that was certainly different from those normally served at Tuscany, the Italian fine dining restaurant of The Trident Hotel, where  the festival is being held.

The two dishes that followed, to my mind, were the masterpieces of the festival. Definite must-haves in my book, the pasta was an outstanding Salmon Ravioli with dill cream, shiitake mushrooms and caper jus. The smokiness of the dill with the crunch of the shiitake mushroom were a perfect foil to the salmon filled ravioli. This mix of ingredients, certainly not a commonplace one, had created the piece de resistance of the festival.

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The Risotto: Given all that Italian cuisine has in its ouvre, a Risotto for me is the last option after the pastas, antipasti and pizzas on offer. In other words, not my first choice at an Italian meal. But here, the Portobello Risotto, made with sundried tomatoes and mascarpone cheese, besides the Portobello mushrooms, was delicious enough that, had I not been so full already, I might even have had a second helping. That is saying something, since I am not a big eater to start with. The flavours delicately underlined that of the mushrooms, and came together in a concoction that was surprisingly light.

A fitting end to the meal was the Chocolate Mud Pie, served with vanilla and truffle oil ice cream. Sinfully creamy on the palate, it more than matched the other dishes served earlier, in terms of taste and presentation.

chocolate mud pie

Note: There are several more options on the menu available as part of this promotion. The dishes mentioned here are the ones I tried.

The Fungi Fiesta Festival is on till the 28th of August at Tuscany, the Italian restaurant at The Trident Hotel. The restaurant is open only for dinner. For reservations, call: 91 40 6623 2323

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