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Soccer food scores with fans

Bhubaneswar, June 30: Football fever has reached a pitch and everyone is looking forward to catching all the action in the quarter finals that begin from Friday.

While football fans in South Africa muster all their lung power to blow into the famous, or infamous, vuvuzelas, something akin to the frenzy in stadiums there can be seen at the lounge bar of Hotel Hindustan International here.

Passionate spectators cheer loudly as they catch the action of every match on a large screen that has been set up for the World Cup season. The excitement is palpable as soon as one enters the Flavours Lounge bar. Sounds of cheering apart, visitors are greeted by goalkeeper gloves holding a jabulani (the official FIFA 2010 football), both of which have been mounted on the glass door that opens into the lounge bar.

Flags of countries currently battling for the Cup on South African grass are hung all over the lounge. Every attempt has been made to replicate the magical feel in stadiums there. Goal posts in the corners of the bar complete the picture.

Football season means special spreads, starters and snacks primarily dedicated to the most popular football players of the season.

A Portugal supporter can’t afford to miss cheese fritters named after Cristiano Ronaldo, whose goal in the league round of the tournament had admirers jumping to their feet. Never mind that Portugal is now out of the Cup, Ronaldo Strikes, named after the Portuguese striker, is still popular. The dish is garnished with garden greens and is the perfect snack for a cheering fan.

Memories of retired Portuguese player Luis Figo come back with the dish Luis Figo’s Punch, which is spicy chicken fingers served with mustard sauce.

The screen set up displays live football matches and the cuisine adds to the excitement.

Ashley Cole’s Pass, named after the England left back, is presented in the form of grilled chicken hotdogs cooked in spicy barbecue sauce. Even after England’s exit from the World Cup, the appetising dish seems to be one of the favourites of among fans.

Fans of Spain can partake of seafood dishes called Fernando Llorente’s Penalty and Xavi’s Half Volley. While former comes with crunchy fried prawns with a dip, the Half Volley is a delicacy of grilled fish cakes served with lemon aioli, a sauce made of garlic and olive oil.

“We find a lot of Argentina, Portugal and Brazil fans at the lounge. Hence there are many dishes dedicated to the players of these teams,” says Sandeep Sharma, general manager of the hotel.

“Although we are open only till the midnight and the last game is not being showcased, we are getting a very good response from the people. The evenings are jam packed at the lounge,” he adds.

Those who are looking for liquid refreshments need not fret. A range of colourful cocktails and exuberant mocktails are also served along with the food.

“I tether between the Chicken Sashlik named Kaka’s Goal and a river fish dish called Messi’s Corner. When the game is on, we argue hard, as there are supporters of various teams in our group. It’s football after all,” says Sanjeev, who has already visited the lounge bar thrice since the World Cup began.

The FIFA special festival will be on until July 11. The soccer dishes are priced between Rs 225 and Rs 400. New flavours will be added along with the start of the quarterfinals this Friday, said Sharma.

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