Spicing up the weekend in Manipal, ‘Carnaval’, the much awaited food fest hosted by the Welcomgroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration (WGSHA) was the place to be. Inspired by the annual Brazilian festival, this soirée infused a unique blend of various Latin American flavors. The festive ambience with colorful banners, exotic music and a semi casual seating invited a lot of guests seeking a relaxed coda to a hectic week.

The extravagant 6 course meal was the perfect answer to a good weekend ahead. Under the guidance of Mrs. Parvadhavardhini, the Head of WGSHA, and Chef Thiru, the VP of WGSHA, this event brought forth new combinations which managed to tickle all those sleepy taste buds. The Ranjit house, headed by Kalyan (the head chef known as the ‘Barker’) and Rasika (the head of Dessert section) brought the event to a start with Taco Pinwheel, the first course.

After the guests were ushered to their respective tables by Lochan and his crew, they’d be treated to this traditional Mexican dish prepared in a unique way with crêpe spinach, potatoes spring onions and homemade sour cream with a dash of fresh salsa. Sprinkled alongside, the crisp honey glazed Tuile (French wafers) gave a satisfactory, crunch consistency to the whole affair.

This tangy savory was served with a choice of mocktails. ‘Carny’s Delight’, a watermelon based cooler infused with fresh ginger was a rather interesting pick due to its attractive appearance and somewhat healthy ingredients for all the health conscious guests. But for all those guests expecting a blast of flavors, ‘Rockhouse Nightcap’, an iced green tea with honey and fresh lemon juice served wonderfully.

The second course was ‘Mexican Sweet Corn Soup’, an absolute delight. This puréed soup with interesting toppings like charred corn, bell peppers, crumbled Cheddar cheese and cilantro was served along with sweet bread. The crunchy taste of bread blended smoothly with the mischievous aroma of corn and cheese, while the other toppings worked their magic simultaneously.

The sumptuous entrées, the third course, were indisputably the day’s favorites, with their jaw dropping presentation and their mouth-watering aroma. For the vegetarians, ‘Super Stuffed Nachos’ was just the answer to the serious deprivation of good quality nachos in Manipal. Being the chef’s special, this dish had freshly procured molten Montreuil Jacques fondant, a rare entity poured generously over homemade corn tortilla chips and laced with Mozzarella, soft Cheddar cheese, salsa and refried beans.

The huge demand for this dish by a large proportion of guests was efficiently managed by Kshitij and his colleagues. The ‘Smoked fish Ceviche’ was the non- vegetarian entrée for the day. This Latin Amercian and Caribbean dish contained marinated and subsequently smoked King Mackerel with a spread of orange vinaigrette. A small portion of salad was tossed on top adding to both the look and taste for this lavish seafood preparation.

Just when the guests thought that they’d had enough, the fourth course came along. To prepare the guests for the next surge of flavors in the main course, WGSHA introduced an interesting palate cleanser- ‘The Cucumber and Lemon Sorbet’. Made by adding a syrup of cucumber and lemon to crushed ice, this refreshing sorbet was kind of a warm up round for the later courses.

For the fifth course, the main course, vegetarians opted for the ‘Spinach and Cheese Tamales’, a modified version of the exotic Mesoamerican dish with a corn and cheese batter instead of dough, steamed in a corn husk, a stuffing made from spinach, cream and zucchini and soaked with red wine Charlotte and vinaigrette. This dish was grilled Cantaloupe salad, croutons and Chimichurri (a chunky herb dip) sauce.

The ‘Pepián de Pollo’, the best non-vegetarian dish according to a lot of guests, almost covered up for its small portion with its lip smacking taste. This popular Guatemalan street food with roast chicken stewed in Pepián (a thick recado) sauce and a spice rub along with dois rice salad.

To bring the evening to a lovely and memorable end, the ‘Carnaval on a Plate’, the sixth course, arrived and was received with much delight. This grand dessert was made up of 5 components: a coconut mousse with a subtle flavor, Alfajores (a traditional Peruvian confection made of cookies stuffed with hazelnuts and a dulce de leche filling), Suspiro de limeña (Another Peruvian dessert with a caramelized biscuit base and cream above), spiced pineapple crumbles and plum coulis (smooth, thick sauce of puréed cooked plum.) This all-encompassing dessert did certainly light up many faces and served as a wonderful finale.

As I take your leave, I would recommend all readers to try food fests organized by WGSHA. I personally feel that the level of organization, sanitation, experience and personalized dishes that WGSHA provides deserves due credit and appreciation.

– Written by Rohan Basak

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