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    Crowne Plaza’s French food festival pays tribute to some classic French dishes

    There’s a common misconception that French food is light, with minuscule portions that you’ll need to chase around the plate before consuming. Believe you me, it’s a lie — especially if you’re planning to drop by and sample the Reunionese Food Festival at the Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park over the weekend.

    A cuppa soup
    When we arrived for a quiet sampling, a four-course, sit-down menu, we were lured into the illusion that it was going to be a quickish meal, when the soup arrived. Thick, overloaded with cream and blended to perfection, the Potato and Leek Soup was served in a typically French soup cup — small enough to just about whet our appetite.

    To tide over the wait for the next course, the chef filled us in on how the French food fest was going to be served as part of the dinner buffet at their multi-cuisine restaurant, The Residency. Organised in collaboration with the Indo-French Chamber of Commerce (IFCCI), the chefs at the Crowne Plaza are going back to the basics to dish out French staples like Coq au vin, Mixed Tarts, Onion Soup (it would be silly to prefix French again) and much more. “A lot of the cooking we do in the Continental kitchen stems from French cooking. So we’re going back to our basic culinary lessons so that people get an authentic French food experience,” says Executive Chef Deva Kumar.

    Tarts for the day
    Right about then, our hors d’oeuvres arrive. Stuffed with pumpkin and braised red onion, the tarts make a pretty picture, but the base is also loaded with butter. Before there’s time to come up for air, the artistically plated mains arrive. The Coq Au Vin, which ungarrulously translates to chicken (cock!) with wine, is simple, loaded with wine jus and has mushrooms and pork lard aesthetically tossed about. It seems about manageable and it does taste irresistible, so we work our way forward, only to meet our digestive Waterloo by the time the plate is empty. We’re officially as stuffed as a French goose.

    Sweet talking
    We’re tempted to yell  ‘Viva la resistance’ in the spirit of fighting to the end and wading through dessert, but the chef is a kind soul. He notices that we’re just about standing and halves the delectably large portions of Chocolate Surprise with a Raspberry Couille, just trickling beside. Now just imagine all that with the
    infusion of Celeb Chefs Jean Claude Cléret and Jean-Michel Dijoux to the kitchen and you’ll understand why wearing yoga pants will make more sense than a tailcoat.

    The Reunionese Food Festival is on for dinner at Residency, Crowne Plaza Chennai till February  9. Meal for two: Rs 3,500. Details: 24994101
    — Daniel Thimmayya

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