Review: Cavalli Caffé, DLF Emporio, New Delhi

There are some days when you just want to dress pretty, meet your girl-friend for a drink, bitch about your job/ boss/ significant other and have a delish meal. Most days you deserve an award for not being jailed after assaulting someone for annoying you, but on those odd days when you want to dress pretty and have a great meal, you go to Cavalli Caffé. At least I did, one Tuesday a few weeks back.
CAVALLI CAFFE INTERIOR
The Cavalli Caffè situated next to the Roberto Cavalli boutique, at the ground floor of DLF Emporio located in Vasant Kunj is as stylish and fashionable as anything with the name Cavalli on the door should be.The Caffè experience finds its roots in the historical Cavalli Caffè Giacosa, located in Via Tornabuoni in Florence, an antique shop founded in 1815, which was a meeting place for a refined and noble Florentine clientele, which Roberto Cavalli brought back to life, preserving the elegance of the setting. The one in Delhi has been decorated in true Roberto Cavalli style with elements created personally by Cavalli himself; the Cavalli Caffé is a true reflection of his style, complete with the animal print upholstery and animal print lampshades hung upside down all along the ceiling with prints of Roberto Cavalli with various celebrities covering the wall.
Bar, Cavalli Caffe, www.stylecity.in
Anyone who knows me knows my love for a great tasting drink, especially if it is vodka or wine based, well I was spoilt for choice with, Cavalli red wine, Cavalli Premium Italian Vodka and Grappa all available as drink options. Conceived to stimulate and inspire every moment of the day, the Cavalli Caffè offers an elegant and refined menu and the atmosphere enables its clients to savour different tastes in an intimate and classic setting where the cuisine proposes a wide range of traditional Italian products and flavours. We were lucky to try the new menu which incorporates a few not so Italian flavours as well. Before I begin on the food, a special mention to the styling by Chef Kapil, it literally broke my heart to spoil the presentation. We started with Crema Di Pomodoro which came in a bun and looked gorgeous but tasted just as it should, warm and soothing down the throat. We then moved on to Parma Ham and Melon appetizer and Rucola and Goat Cheese Salad with Pine Nuts and Oranges. The mains were Mellanzane Alla Parmiggiana, Burrata Ravioli in Burnt Butter and Sage Chili Caramel Basa with Wilted Spinach and Wok Tossed Noodles. Again those of you who read the blog regularly know my absolute love for fish, that is the one thing I try on every menu in almost every part of the world and trust me when I say, I wasn’t disappointed one bit. Finally for dessert we had a huge variety to choose from; Red wine Poached Fig and Apricot Crumble, Hot Chocolate Foam with a Rum Granita and Chocolate Marquise, ending with Cavalli chocolates. Available in eleven delicious flavours of Walnut, Peanuts, Dark Gianduja, Coconut and Vanilla, Crunchy Almond Praline, Coffee, Cinnamon, Gianduja, Almonds and Hazelnuts, Mint, Chili Pepper, the chcolates truly exude the Roberto Cavalli experience.
Cavalli Cafe, www.stylecity.in
So the next time you want to dress up pretty, have a great cocktail and some delicious food, or even step out for a cup of coffee with your girlfriend, you know what we recommend and trust me you wont be disappointed.
For reservations:+91 11 46950000

Review: Piccoli Tortini, Mumbai

This week Writer and Blogger Sohini Datta went to check out Piccoli Tortini in Bandra, a luxurious Italian Pasticceria serving tortinis, cupcakes, pastries, desserts, paninis, Italian breads, salads, pastas and a high end, indulgent afternoon tea. They also do a typical Italian meal, well her opinion, read ahead to find out.

Interiors 3

Italian food is as common as burgers in India. Everyone has it and everyone thinks they are a connoisseur of it. Therefore, reviewing Piccoli Tortini in Bandra is ten times more difficult…or so I thought. The patisserie is really small in area size and the cynic in me had her nose upturned till it reached the heavens. In my head, Italian restaurant that boasts of gluten-free, organic food must be sprawling.I will speak about the food more than the décor. The décor is nice…but then I belong to the minimalist generation, ornate is just not my style.With a lot of glass and baroque details, the space was distinctly old school Italian. And while we all agree the ambience goes hand in hand with the quality of food, sometimes one tends to overpower the other. This time, the food took home the gold.

Collage

While I am clearly not a salad or health-food person and believe raw food must not be eaten, the chickpea couscous salad in olive oil being refreshingly light, won my heart. Next up was the orange ice tea, which by the way for some reason is still undiscovered. Think citrus tea….how wrong can it get? Not much. How right can it get? Home run style! I could have had four of those, but I try not to act like a glutton in public.  This was followed by Chicken Ciabatta –slices of chicken mortadella with green olive paste. This was fabulous so not so much my favorite because too much bread during dinner always spoils the appetite. It is the beautiful creamy mushroom sauce fettuccini with roasted shrimps that took us on a direct flight to Italy. Creamy pasta is always almost made wrong, either too heavy or too floury or cheesy. However, Piccoli, use their own home-made gluten free wheat pasta and their sauce was perfectly balanced, leaving no taste bud alone. The mouth was an explosion of flavors…and I might just start drooling again if I keep speaking about it. Most importantly, it was light enough to digest super soon which seldom happens with Italian. Finally, we ended the dinner with what can only be described as a cupcake platter. Vanilla, chocolate and spiced pumpkin cupcakes…I had two of the spiced pumpkin ones because …they deserved to be loved.

Piccoli Tortini, www.stylecity.in

More love was shown to a slice of dense cheesecake (you can choose the topping you like from blueberry, raspberry and some more) and I contemplated buying all of the desserts off the shelves, but decided against.The verdict is that go to the restaurant with a lot of built-up hunger and enough space in your camera for innumerable Instagram photos. Because the food is so good that it can bring out the glutton from the most elegant and cynical of connoisseurs.

Address:Shams Palace, 98 Hill Road,near St Andrews Church, Bandra, Mumbai
Contact Nos:02269996000/993075741

Review: FIO Country Kitchen and Bar

Since I moved to Mumbai in 2009 there has been a list of restaurants which opened in Delhi that I have been wanting to visit. So now that I am in Delhi for a while I have started reviewing these places. The first being FIO where honing his creative expertise in the business of hospitality, restaurateur, Vineet Wadhwa,rekindles the magic of five senses.

Situated at ‘Garden of Five Senses’FIO pays an ode to the countryside-kitchens of Italy & India. Serene and calm FIO takes you away from the noise and fast life of the city into a quiet retreat. Lush landscape with subtle lighting, this charming place boasts of an eclectic outdoor area and chic indoor restaurant and bar. As I have always said I love outdoor eating spaces, I think it was mainly because I missed those in Mumbai but more than anything because of the country charm and romance associated with them. Hence, these places are perfect for a nice lazy brunch or even a romantic meal for two in the evening. In both aspects FIO does not disappoint.
FIO looks like a farm-house or someones holiday home which has been converted into the restaurant. Though I am sure that is not the case the look and feel is that of a country house. The outdoor has variety of seating areas including a covered porch. The furniture here is eclectic, the seating has a mix of wrought iron and cane furniture as well as wooden benches. These with bright coloured cushions and green plants really remind one of a nice garden by a country house by a lush country side. The porch has more upholstered seating like sofas and chairs. There is a bar outdoor as well which is perfect for when someone wants to host a brunch or dinner at the venue.
The indoor has a more contemporary look, with bright red sofas and straight like chairs and tables. It has large bay windows over looking the garden outdoor. The gardens that besides adding to the beauty is also where the herbs for food are grown. Yup! FIO grows its own potted herbs which is used in the food that we eat, organic cooking at its best!

Personifying its name, FIO blends the finest from the Italian & Indian kitchen. The Italian selection features Grilled New Zealand Lamb Chops, Grilled Lobsters brushed with Japanese Mustard, pan seared Bassa, Norwegian salmon all meats sourced from different parts of the world. For the ones loving Thin crust Pizzas from the woodfired oven – Layered with Gorgonzola, Mozzarella Fontina, Parma and the in-house smoked chicken with a mound of Rucola.The Indian kitchen is boastful of its kebabs – Tandoor Tigers, Munnar Chettinad Murg, Raan, Bhatti Murg and Khasta Paneer all chargrilled to perfection, served extra hot on thin metal chaude dishes and a house salad!

 FIO has a well stocked bar with wines from over 10 different countries. The cocktails were quite refreshing and delicious the highlight was a sugar-free Mojito for one of my dinner companions who is Diabetic. While we were waiting for our appetizers to arrive we were presented with a bread basket of delicious home-made bread and sauces to go along. We ate the whole basket which was a mistake but the bread was delicious and I have a soft corner for bread. From here we moved on to the ANTIPASTI (APPETIZERS) where we had the POLLO PADELLA DI MOSTARDE which is Grilled chicken diced, peppers and mustard chilli, CROSTINI DI FUNGI which is toasted garlic bread, mushrooms, mozzarella, SALMONE AFFUMICATO DI CASA which is home cured Salmon with cranberry drizzle. The unanimous decision regarding the best appetizer was POLLO PADELLA DI MOSTARDE, the chicken was succulent and well cooked while the sauce was rich. Though I am a huge Salmon fan and it was delicious I feel it paled in comparison to the other dishes as the sauces of those were just really rich. So I would recommend the Salmon but with a salad or another cold dish. For mains we had PENNE CON POLLO E’FUNGHI which is a penne with chicken, mushrooms, white wine and cream but I requested a pink sauce as I prefer that,though this is a simple dish I always like to taste this in any restaurant I go to review. I believe true art lies in conquering simplicity. As you can guess I was quite satisfied and it was yummy! But the main highlight of the meal was BASSA CON ZENZERO E’ MELE which was our other main and was out of the world totally recommend. This is Vietnamese Bassa pan seared with honey and ginger sauce and served with mashed potatoes and sautéed greens. Even though I was stuffed I finished each morsel on my plate and plan to go back to FIO just to eat it again! The finale was the TIRAMISU MILANESE, since I am not a coffee person at all I normally avoid Tiramisu but this was delicious. I actually had more than a customary single bite!

The food and ambience were both outstanding. Like I mentioned earlier it is perfect for a lovely brunch as well as a romantic meal for two. With the given space it is also great to host a party. The place is big enough to mark off a section for you depending on the amount of guests and theme. I am definitely going back there this time to try out the Indian cuisine, who knows I might even plan my Birthday party there.
FIO –Country Kitchen & Bar,Gate no. 1, The Garden of Five Senses Said-Ul-Ajaib, Mehrauli, Delhi. Tel: 011-29536309. Price: Rs 2,000 for a meal for 2 (minus alcohol)

RECIPIES
POLO PADDELA DI MOSTARDE
Ingredients
150 gm chicken leg dices
20 gm pommeri mustard
½ tsp chilli flakes
½ tsp thyme leaf
½ tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp parsley chopped
1 tbs olive oil
½ tsp black pepper crusted
Salt to taste

Method
Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan add chopped garlic cooked till brown add chicken cooked for 2 minute add mustard, thyme, chilli flakes, black pepper and salt to taste cooked for 5 minutes.Serve hot garnish with parsley.

BASSA CON ZINZARO
Ingredients
180 gm Bassa fish fillet
100 ml Balsamic vinegar
20 ml honey
20 gm ginger
2 nos lemon leaf finely chopped
50 gm mashed potato
20 gm red capsicum sliced
20 gm yellow capsicum sliced
30 gm zucchini jardinière cut
30 yellow zucchini jardinière cut
10 gm garlic finely chopped
½ tsp chilli flakes
½ tsp black pepper crusted
20 ml Cooking cream
Olive oil
Salt to taste

Method
Marinade Bassa with salt, black pepper, parsley and olive oil set aside.
For mashed  potato, heat oil in a pan add garlic cooked till golden brown add mashed potato, cooking cream, chilli flakes, salt and black pepper mix it well.
For zinzaro sauce, take a pan heat balsamic vinegar add chopped ginger and lemon leaf reduced to half add honey cook for one minute.
Take a pan heat oil add red capsicum, yellow capsicum, zucchini and yellow zucchini add salt and pepper cooked for one minute.
In  a non stick pan  heat oil add marinade Bassa cooked until it  turns golden brown then turn the fillet again cooked it nicely so that same colour comes second side. When Bassa is cooked serve with mashed potato, sautéed vegetable and zinzero sauce.

LASAGNE CON ASPARAGI
Ingredients
3 nos Lasagne sheet
100 gm asparagus
20 gm onion chopped
20 gm garlic chopped
½ tsp fresh thyme leaf
½ tsp fresh parsley chopped
50 ml cooking cream
2 tbs tomato sauce
50 gm parmesan cheese (grated)
30 gm mozzarella cheese
2 tbs olive oil
20 gm black olive
20 gm green olive
15 gm cherry tomato

Method
Preheat oven to 180 degree C
Trim asparagus. Cut stalks into 1/2-inch pieces.
Heat oil in a pan add chopped onion and garlic cooked till brown.
Add asparagus, thyme and cooking cream cook till asparagus is half-cooked. Remove from the heat and add 20 gm grated parmesan cheese and set aside.
Take a large pot of boiling salted water and cook lasagne sheet for 6 to 8 minutes or until almost tender. Drain and cool in cold water. Remove and arrange in single layer on damp tea towel.
In a baking dish spread tomato sauce and arrange lasagne sheet spread quarter of asparagus sauce and one-quarter of mozzarella cheese, repeat the process 3 times. Top with final layer of lasagne sheet and asparagus sauce. Sprinkle parmesan cheese black and green olive and cherry tomatoes over top and Baked in oven for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown and bubbly, garnish with asparagus tips over top