Taste traditional Italian food at the Fair of Saint Orso buffet at Radisson GRT
"SOME ANTIPASTI, madam?" asks the conscientious waiter at the Garden Café, Hotel GRT Radisson.
"No, I like pasta a lot," says friend M.
"Antipasti are the appetisers, ma'am," explains the waiter.
And so begins a review of an Italian food festival, on at the Radisson till February 8. Chefs Naveen and Amith, from the Italiannis restaurant in Radisson, Delhi, are at the Garden Café to bring a taste of "The Fair of Saint Orso" to Chennai. The real fair takes place on January 30 and 31 in the Aosta Valley in Italy. It began during the Middle Ages when Saint Orso used to distribute shoes and clothes to the poor. Since then, it has grown into a huge carnival celebrating traditional crafts and art from the area. The Radisson GRT is trying to give its gourmands a taste of authentic Italian food as served at the fair in Italy.
The antipasti would give anyone an appetite for pasta and more. Friend M certainly developed a huge appetite for the antipasti after the detailed introduction to it. Familiar flavours are fused to make an interesting Chicken and Fig Stick. The tenderloin carpachio is a signature Italian appetiser, which friend M says is a little too bland. The Pasta Salad with Bell Peppers and Broccoli is not very inspiring, and the Garlic Tossed Exotic Vegetables is only exotic in name.
Minestroni Romano is a piquant basil flavoured tomato soup. It's served with various kinds of Italian breads, the best of which is the soft foccaccia bread.
On to the main course, the Mixed Seafood Ragout is a motley crew of sea creatures cooked in lobster bisque. It's flavoured with brandy and tomato and is nicely spicy, says friend MThe chef says the Lamb Shanks on Olive and Herb Semolina is his best dish in the non-vegetarian menu. The lamb is simmered and served in its own juices, giving it a deep, soft taste that's not too spicy.
Top of Chef Naveen's list of vegetarian dishes is the Mixed Cheese Steak with Tomato Basil Sauce. The Chicken Italiannis' light lemon pepper seasoning gives it an unusual tang. "This is the most popular dish at the Italiannis restaurant in Delhi," says Chef Naveen proudly, whose jacket pocket sparkles with 12 different kinds of badges. "These are awards I have received from the Italiannis restaurants worldwide. Most of the food gets a good rating but skip the Risotto Milanaise with Mushroom. It tastes like pongal that travelled to Italy and back in economy class.. "That's the problem with a buffet," says Chef Naveen. "The food is out for so long that it loses some of its taste and freshness. But when you want people to get an idea of a particular kind of food, a buffet is the best option. It lets them taste a little of each dish."
The highlight of the buffet is the live pasta station. An earnest chef tosses your pasta lovingly while you wait. It's made to order, seasoned with olive oil, plenty of garlic, chilli flakes, thyme, rosemary, black or white pepper and all kinds of exotic herbs, spices and sauces that seem to come alive as the pasta sizzles and sputters in the pan. Desserts, as always the most exciting part of the meal, include Tiramisu, Pannacota, Tartufo, Torte au Citron, Baked Cheesecake and Crème Brule.
The Fair of Saint Orso buffet is open for dinner (7 p.m. onwards, Rs. 350 per head plus taxes) till February 8 at Radisson GRT Hotel, 531 GST Road, St. Thomas Mount.
Send this article to Friends by