Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Taj West End - Ravioli and Gnocchi special (The Hindu's Metro Plus)

Note: I had written this for The Hindu's Metro Plus supplement. You can find the original review article on The Hindu's site here: The Hindu Metro Plus - Pasta All The Way
The headline added by the newsdesk unfortunately incorrectly referred to the Taj Residency instead of the Taj West End.

Pasta all the way

The ravioli and gnocchi food promotion at the Taj Residency offers some splendid fare

NEAT PRESENTATION The menu is tailored for both the uninitiated as well as the foodie

Love Italian food, but bored of the usual pasta and pizza options served up by Bangalore restaurants? The Mynt diner at the Taj West End is hosting a promotional gnocchi and ravioli special until Sep 15.

Set in a pleasant ambience with a Romanian duo playing soft music, the fest spotlights two kinds of pasta — gnocchi, the dumplings typically made of semolina or ricotta cheese, and ravioli, the thin-layered pasta usually filled in the middle with vegetables or meat. While these two pastas as the motif might be limiting for most, innovative Chef Kachroo serves up a vista of dishes.

The starters

The two soups up for starters are zuppa pommodoro (fresh tomato soup) with capellaci and zuppa di pesce (mixed seafood soup). Both were fairly good, although we missed the meat-based minestra.

The main course offers substantial veg options, ranging from classics like gnocchi in sage butter sauce to interesting flavours of bengal gram and beetroot capellacci in olive tapenade sauce. We also liked the herbed gnocchi with quattro formaggio, the interplay of the subtle flavours of the four cheeses blending with the creamy sauce.

Other avatars

Other cultures have parallels to ravioli as well, such as the Chinese jiaozi, Russian pelmeni, Tibetan momo and Jewish kreplachs. But, like all pastas, the taste is `al dente', and is a bit chewy. Gnocchi, which literally means `lump', cooks faster than normal pastas and can fall apart if overcooked.

Amongst the non-vegetarian items, we loved the innovative pumpkin and semolina gnocchi with salsa di prosciutto (ham) the most — the mild sweet flavour of the pumpkin complemented the ham and gnocchi well. Also interesting were the duck confit ravioli in orange cream sauce and the crabmeat tortellini. The potato gnocchi with bolognese sauce was passable.

In the Tuscan area of Italy, spinach and ricotta-flavoured gnocchi are called strozzapreti (priest-stranglers). Legend has it that a local priest choked and died after a binge on the delicious gnocchi.

We sampled two of the desserts, the baciali limone (lemon custard dome with glaze) and the spuma di pere (pear mousse with chocolate sauce), which were excellent.

Overall, we were impressed by the creativity of the spread, and the thought that had gone into the selection. The promotional menu is à la carte and supplements the regular diner menu which visitors can feel free to choose from.

Bottomline: The festival offers a pleasant introduction to ravioli and gnocchi for the uninitiated, as well as some splendid innovative new flavours for those up for an Italian culinary adventure.

Call The Mynt at 66605660 for reservations.


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