“Give us this day our daily bread and … Lead us not into temptation…”, so we say every time we recite the Lord’s Prayer. Well, an international food festival during the Lent season is indeed a temptation one can’t resist. After the Konkan food fest last month, the Hilton Garden Inn, Trivandrum is currently hosting an Italian food fest ‘Slice of Italy’ at their Garden Grille restaurant for the connoisseurs of Italian cuisine in the capital city.
On reaching the hotel, Balaji A S, F&B Manager, Hilton Garden Inn, Trivandrum; Kiran Jerome, Sales Manager; and Chef Gopinath, briefed us about the Italian food promotion event. The Chef gave us a detailed insight into the concept of the fest, the menu and the ingredients, some of which like the Parmesan cheese block, stuff that is usually not available in Thiruvananthapuram.
Italian food is very diverse in nature. Each of the twenty Italian regions has a distinctive set of flavours, recipes, products, and ingredients. The event has tried to showcase few selected dishes every day. There are three live counters – a live Bruschetta station, a Sandwich station and a live Pizza & Pasta station – for starters. The salad section features three distinct Italian salads. The main course of the buffet has six prominent dishes – a mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian delicacies. The menu would change every day as they have a set of seven different menus. The dessert section has few typical Italian treats. An Italian market place featuring different types of pasta, spaghetti, olives, olive oil, vegetables and fruits has also been set up in the lobby to add flavour to the food fest.
Italian cuisine is incomplete without the Minestrone soup or the Pollo Macaroni soup. For starters, we had a slice each of super crusty Cheese and Calamari pizza, and also Cheese and Chicken pizza washed down with some good red wine. The squid (Calamari) pizza was really crunchy and tasty. I wanted to try out Bruschetta – the grilled bread rubbed with garlic and topped with olive oil and salt with different toppings like tomato, vegetables, beans, cured meat or cheese but refrained myself.
For salads, it was Baked Fish with Italian Vegetables, Pasta Salad with Spicy cocktail Sauce and Spicy Aubergine with raw Mango Salsa. The main course dishes were Garbanzo Aubergine Parmigiana – Chickpea with Aubergine and Parmesan crust, Gnocchi Napoletana, Stuffed Eggplant with Bolognese and melted Cream Sauce, Carote Al Sughillo, Potate Al Pomoorg and Chicken Florentine, a simple chicken dish with cream sauce and sautéed Bell peppers. I liked Chicken Florentine and Potate Al Pomoorg, potatoes roasted and sprinkled with the basil, sage, rosemary and garlic seasoned with salt and pepper to taste, a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil on the potatoes, and baked until golden brown and tender. Aubergines (Eggplant or Brinjals, as we call it), tomatoes, garlic and olives have a prominent presence in Italian cuisine. The Gnocchi Napoletana, a traditional dish of homemade gnocchi and the napoletana sauce, with oregano, basil and seasoning of salt & pepper, was delicious.
For the grand finale, we had a piece of Italian Love Cake, Cassata and Chocolate Panforte. The pièce de résistance was the cassata – round sponge cake moistened with fruit juices/liqueur and layered with ricotta cheese and chocolate chips.
The two weeks long fest, as part of the dinner buffet, would conclude on March 26, 2017 and I am already looking forward to their ‘Kebabs and Tandoori nights’ event next month.