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That SWEET sensation



Chocolates go with anything, including your malt on the rocks.

IF YOU think your malt on the rocks goes well only with a kebab or a tikka, think again. How about some chocolate? Yes, chocolate to go with your whisky or champagne. It's different, some may simply decide, or even bizarre.

But it's strongly recommended for those with a sweet tooth. And how many can really say no to chocolate? It creates a weakness in mind and spirit and an aberration in a strict diet, even among hardy chefs.

All things chocolate

The Park is hosting a sinful chocolate festival as a prelude to Valentine's Day and has flooded its restaurants and bars with all things chocolate — tarts and truffles, desserts and liqueur chocolates, brownies and mousse. And even chocolate cocktails.

If you have the dum, down a quick shooter of Chocolate Monkey, a concoction of crème de banana and baileys laced with chocolate liqueur. Or lazily sip on a chocolate and raspberry martini at I-bar. Choco slide, chocolate and blueberry mojito, chocolate almond and a choco colada (a dark and white rum layered with chocolate syrup) set the mood for the festival.

But if you are a true-blue lover of chocolat, you'll probably love your solid chocolates paired with a non-chocolatey drink. Pick from a dainty platter of chocolate tarts — of dark chocolate ganache with crunchy pralines, white chocolate and raspberry (which is simply superb) and the milk chocolate and crème de menthe if you love the minty tingle.

If you like traditional combos, don't miss the rich rum and raisin truffle or the chocolate walnut fudge cup. An assortment of liqueur chocolates with Amaretto, Cointreau, and Galliano are a complete knockout. The way the desserts are dressed to kill and the assortment of chocolate delights are presented is what makes it all the more appealing. It's chocolate art.

Executive Chef Abhijit Saha is the man behind the new combos. "Traditionally liqueurs are filled in chocolates. But today, in the gourmet food industry, a lot of new things are evolving. Why can't we have a single malt on the rocks with a bite of chocolate with a tinge of bitterness?" The idea is to change the way people down their drink or what they smoke their cigar along with. Some of the specialities will last even after the festival.

Cognac and chocolate is the traditional choice, says Chef Saha, but chocolate-coated strawberries go well with champagne, he assures us. Most cocktails have a sourness or bitterness and chocolate in cocktails brings about a sweet balance. Many would argue that chocolate would kill the fine taste of a delicate red wine or a champagne. But the idea is not to overwhelm with chocolate but merely tantalize.

Saha recommends his personal favourites among the exotica he has created — soft-centred chocolates with fillings of Wasabi (Japanese horse radish), or with crystallised ginger or rosemary herbs.

Their restaurant Monsoon will serve all these cocktails as well as some luscious desserts of triple chocolate crème brulee, baked chocolate cheesecake with butterscotch ice cream, sacher torte with orange sorbet and more. I-talia will serve a series of coaktails and temptations such as warm chocolate mud cake with Amaretto, frozen espresso and chocolate mousse, chocolate fettuccini with pistachio and more.

A classic

Chef Saha, who swears by the epicurean capabilities of a Bangalorean, says: "Chocolate is a classic you can never do away with. It's a chef's favourite indulgence. And Bangalore always likes all these things and opts for something new. If it doesn't work in Bangalore, it won' work anywhere else!" Let's propose a gooey molten chocolate toast to that.

The festival is on till February 13 at The Park, 14/7 M.G. Road. Phone: 2559 4666.

BHUMIKA K.

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