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Tuesday, Nov 23, 2004

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Italian splendour

An Italian festival without wine? Only a chef from one of India's best-loved restaurants could pull this one off



Chef Francis has been specially flown in from Mumbai to teach the chefs at Taj Gateway. — Photo: Murali Kumar K.

THE ONGOING Italian food festival at the Taj Gateway's Potluck Café will have you believe it is the first in Bangalore to showcase a variety of different cuisines from across Italy. It isn't, of course, and what the USP of the festival really should be is that their chef has been flown down straight from Trattoria, the Taj President Mumbai's legendary Italian restaurant.

A hangout

Tratts may be better known as a hangout after a night's late partying, but its food can never be forgotten. In a festival on till November 28, Chef Francis from Tratts is bringing down his own recipes, including all-time favourites from the Mumbai restaurant. Chefs at the Potluck Café will be trained under Francis to produce the same excellent fare when he's gone.

A recommended starter is the focaccia bread with dip; a favourite at Tratts, says Chef Francis, and not surprisingly so. The firm bread can be had plain, but is set off by a slightly tangy dip, lending "a sweet and sour taste that comes from the balsamic vinegar used", explains the chef. Apart from the focaccia bread, Chef Francis recommends the steaks (especially the beef) and the pizzas. The vegetarian pizza can be custom-made to your liking with a variety of toppings; much of the usual: black olives, tomatoes, mushrooms and so on, but the end result is surprisingly refreshing for a dish now as familiar to the Indian palate as thayar saadam. Since the crust is made thin, the abundance of toppings don't leave you struggling with quantity. Post pizza there will still be lots of room in your stomach for other courses.

Of the other courses, MetroPlus recommends the pasta and risotto, especially the latter. Pasta has come to be synonymous with Italian food, and many places in Bangalore make a mean pasta, but risotto is an iffy venture. It can too easily be glutinous and pasty or be reduced to an insipid rice dish, which is why a good risotto is generally a safe guarantor of a chef's competence.

Perfect risotto

Chef Francis' asparagus risotto was delicious. Right colour, right amount of body and not too heavy either. Substance and style; making it pass our risotto test with flying colours.

The menu is revolving with an a la carte lunch and buffet dinner costing Rs. 450 plus taxes but this includes many courses of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Being at the Potluck Café, the ambience is lower than average, so go if you're a real foodie — or entertaining one. Call Potluck Café on 5660 4545 for reservations.

HEMANGINI GUPTA

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