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    Greek and Lebanese short eats take centre stage at Radisson Blu Chennai City Centre’s festival

    RADISSON16A shot of hummus. You may have dipped, spread or even used chunks of the delectable Mediterranean paste before, but we bet you’ve never had it served in a shot glass. Those are the quirky little twists that make Radisson Blu Chennai City Centre’s Trip to the Mediterranean festival appeal to the senses. “We’ve never tried this before,” admits corporate executive chef Neelkantan, “So we went through a whole series of pastry and food trials to get the flavours from Greek and Lebanon right.” Judging by what was served up at a chef’s table recently, they got it right. Like most other culinary trysts with the lower European, upper African countries, it’s the mezze (platter of short starters) that stands out. Now, when we say short, we mean short! If the labneh bil zayit are pop-in-the-mouth yoghurt dumplings that have a creamy hint of pistachio, the calamari salata is a squid slurper’s dream come true — all with that extra dash of olive oil to slide it down the gullet.
    Washing it down with a creamy pumpkin potato soup, we realise that if we’d been blindfolded, it would have been quite a task to distinguish the mains from mainstream Indian fare. “It should help more people try it out if it tastes familiar,” says the chef indulgently. The samak makali is on the blander side, but then the menu pre-warned us that it was only mildly spiced. The pick of the lot was a supremely succulent shank of lamb barbook, dripping with an onion and prune sauce. Even if you’re not a fan of the nut-stuffed baklava, give it a shot here — with the nuts being soaked awhile, they’re a lot easier on the teeth, sweet or otherwise.
    A trip to the Mediterranean begins today, at Oasis. A la carte at approximately `1,500 per couple. Details: 30404444

    — Daniel Thimmayya

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