Amici Café … ♥ Good food, friends and menu sampling ♥

“Using lots of fresh foods, fruits and vegetables, helps to keep the menu buoyant – I don’t know if that’s the right word, but it keeps a balance of freshness and health.”
Sally Schneider

Got an invite from the beautiful Amici Cafe in Khan Market, New Delhi  … “In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we’re reaching out to a select set of Delhi-based food bloggers to come in and sample our specially prepared ‘Aphrodisiac’ menu”. I looked forward to sample the special menu, and was also thrilled to get an opportunity to meet a few Delhi bloggers. Have virtually bumped into Anita from Mad Tea Party and Sid of Chef at Large in the past, but this was different. A face to face meeting over food sampling was a delicious call, and no way was I going to miss it! To meet over what we love to do was just the thing, and when it is hosted by a charming urban chic eatery, it’s even better! Also present were two other fun and amicable foodies –  Anoothi, a free lance journalist from India Food and Travel Guideand  Deepinder from Foodiebay, India’s largest restaurant and menu listing guide. 
 
You have been invited by Amici Cafe to “7 days of Love” at Amici Cafe.
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Amici Cafe is a delightful cafe located in one of Delhi’s prime shopping locations, Khan Market. Originally allocated as seed land to immigrants from the North-West Frontier Province after the partition of India, Khan Market is one of Delhi’s upmarket shopping areas and is frequented by the expat and diplomatic community. It lies surrounded by the lush Lodhi gardens and has a variety of shops offering everything from grocery to boutiques, bric-a-brac, trinkets, street food, multi cuisine restaurants etc. Amici fits in well with the unique ambience here, offering quality food at a great value.
Amici meaning ‘Friends’ in Italian and the choice of name is reflective of the theme of the cafe. It has an urban Indian and casual feel; an inviting place where friends can meet and hang out. The cafe is mid-priced and targets the upper middle class urban youth, offering the authentic Italian cafe pizzaria experience at a value driven price. To enhance the taste of the extensive variety of pizzas on offer, the owners have imported the wood fire oven from Italy.
Amici is the brainchild of Andrea Aftab Pauro, also the creator of highly succesful Baci, one of the hippest restaurants in the Delhi. Andrea, half Indian, half Italian, has an ancestral heritage of hospitality, the iconic Imperial Hotel in New Delhi being founded by the Indian side of his family in 1934. His passion and love for this industry guarantee a brilliant culinary experience. Both Baci and Amici have a huge fan following of loyalists who swear by the ‘experience‘. 
Dishes served at Amici Café at the sampling…

Over valentines this year, Amici offered a chef’s special Aphrodasiac menu to get luscious this Valentine. It offered a daily dose of lover concoctions to set the emotions rolling. ♥♥♥ …  Love was surely in the air there!

From The Aphrodisiac Menu
Beet Root Ravioli  (Excellent,pictured above)
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Chicken stuffed with dry fruits (Very good, pictured above))
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Pizza Valentino
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Other food we sampled …
Pizza Bianca (Very good, pictured above)
  Lebenese Veg Pizza (Excellent, pictured above)
Carbonara penne pasta
(didn’t get a picture)
Salads – The Dylan salad, Caprese salad
(Both fresh and full of flavour.Didn’t get pictures again as they went by too quick)
  ~
Desserts …
Warm Gooey Mushy Chocolate
Peanut Blonde and Ice Cream 
Tiramisu (No picture, as it wasn’t picture worthy)
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(All food pictures courtesy Sid Khullar @ Chef At Large
Thank you for being so large-hearted and sharing them Sid)

My verdict on Amici … I was won over by the authenticity in flavours and the freshness of ingredients in the salads and main course. The flavoured oils, the lilting chili flavours teasing the palate, the marriage of balsamic vinegar and rocket in perfect balance, the broccoli and french beans on the side done just right. The pizzas were outstanding, by far the best we’ve had so far. The Lebanese vegetarian pizza was fabulous in everyway, especially the baba ghanoush and fresh feta on top. Another dish worthy of mention was the beetroot ravioli. It had sensuos flavours of anise coming through beautifully, and the light cream sauce balanced the dish perfectly. It is rare to find such satisfaction in a vegetarian pasta, and I would possibly choose it over the non vegetarian options for the interesting blend of fresh flavours. Very creative!

I thought the desserts were a little low on ‘oomph’, and maybe creativity. IMHO, adding fruit or non run-of-the-mill options to the dessert menu in creative ways would make the Amici experience flawless. The gooey chocolate cake is one you find on almost every dessert menu. The peanut blondie was sweet and ‘peanutty’, nice, but left no long lasting impression. The tiramisu was served in a plastic glass and the savoiardi were soggy at the bottom. I think it was just savoiardi and mascarpone. As the conversation at the table reflected, it is very difficult to find an authentic tiramisu in restaurants these days. Most places don’t go the whole ‘tiramisu way’ with zabaglione, savoiardi and pastry cream.
 
Thank you for having us over!

In a nutshell, it was a fun tasting session. Would have been nice to have met Andre but he got caught up in his factory with work. However, the evening was carried forward beautifully by Caroline Rowe and Anindita Rai Deka from Perfect Relations who co-hosted the session, and regaled us with their foodie banter. It was a wonderful evening with the conversation merrily touching a variety of topics … Madhur Jaffrey, Anthony Bourdain, black pepper crabs, fermented drinks in North East India, World Food Symposium in London, street food to snob food in Delhi, what comes to mind when you say ‘peppers’ … and much more! We also had a brief meeting with the chef who was under pressure to look after the restaurant patrons.

Amici Cafe
47, Middle Lane,
Khan Market,
New Delhi – 011
Tel 4358 7191
Opening Hours: 11:00 – 23:00
A meal for two is Rs 900/- plus taxes

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Chocolate chip, Cranberry & Walnut Sconies (Scones+Cookies=Sconies) … we l♥v them!

“Sometimes me think what is love, and then me think love is what last cookie is for.
Me give up the last cookie for you.”
Cookie Monster
I love making cookies, and I love making scones. This time I decided to combine my love forthe two, using a recipe I turn to often. It’s one I use from  Romney Steels cookbook My Nepenthe that was reviewed on Heidi’s beautiful blog 101 Cookbooks. These are the best I’ve ever made, and oh-so-accomodative. What I like about them is the ease with which the recipe embraces different ingredients. Had posted the scones over Christmas ‘Orange & Oat Scones‘. My nephew who was visiting then, quite the fussy eater, loved them! Each time I make these, I think of him!
This time I tried making them into sconey cookies. Rolled them out thinner than scones and baked them a bit longer. Got me nice sconies, packed with yummy chocolate, walnuts and cranberries in every bite, crisp from the outside, ever so slightly chewy from the inside. The daughter who is also now a little fussy especially when it comes to oats and walnuts, asked me to make them again. BOW SCRAPE … did I feel honoured or what? 
They really are NICE! 2 batches later, I’m here to post them. I cut out a few hearts too, so it seems the right time to blog about them! In any case, I ♥ healthy cookies, and it gives me pure joy to see the kids enjoy these so. I got about 3 dozen cookies from the cookie dough. The recipe is simple enough for kids to make as well. It’s a great kitchen activity with little ones, and fun to see the things they want to add to the basic dough.
These sconies have a generous helping of oats. Play around with the other ingredients as you like. I love zesting some fresh orange peel into the flour. I think pistachios, dried apricots and chocolate, maybe white too, will taste pretty yummy in there. I’ve done a walnut, crystallised ginger and chocolate chip version in the past with great results. I find that these make great gifts too!

Chocolate chip, Cranberry & Walnut Sconies (Scones+Cookies=Sconies)
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks adaptation from My Nepenthe by Romney Steele
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups flour (or whole wheat pastry flour if available)
1/3 cup vanilla sugar
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 cups rolled oats
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/8 cup coarse vanilla or demerara sugar, for sprinkling
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine the flour, 1/2 cup of vanilla sugar, baking powder, and baking soda in the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and pulse 15-20 times or until it looks like sandy pearls. Transfer the dough to a bowl and stir in the oats, cranberries, walnuts, chocolate chips and zest.
Stir in the buttermilk until just moistened. Bring the dough together with your hands. If the dough is still too crumbly, stir in more buttermilk a tiny splash at a time, but try to avoid over mixing.
After bringing the dough together, gently divide into 2, and roll out about 1/2 inch thick. Cut shapes if you like, or pat it into an 8-inch round. Cut into triangle shapes if you are patting the dough into a circle. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet with some room between each scone. Sprinkle the tops with coarse sugar. Bake for 15 minutes or until the bottoms are deeply golden.
Cool completely on racks.
Makes 2 1/2 – 3 dozen 2.5″ hearts
♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥

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TOMATO-CARROT SOUP…DELICATELY FLAVOURED WITH STAR ANISE

“Men are like soup: you always want to have one on the back burner, just in case.”
Unattributed feminist quote
Tomato-Carrot Soup with Star Anise
Tried my hand at a tomato-carrot soup this morning, flavoured delicately with a spice that has intrigued me endlessly over the past few days. None other than the pretty star anise ! A nice & gentle vegetarian soup, beautifully flavoured & great for the winter chill that has descended upon us. This is an adaptation of a soup my mother makes almost everyday in the winter months.Star Anise…the pretty spice!
Star anise plays a key role in the slow cooked dishes that characterize Eastern Chinese cuisine. Its licorice flavor enhances red cooked dishes. It is also the secret ingredient in many Indian stews and curries. And yes…literally…’No croutons required’!!
Ingredients:
Tomatoes – 8-10 medium / quartered
Carrots – 2 / chopped roughly
Onion – 1 / quartered
Garlic – 2 cloves
Red Lentil (Masoor dal) – 1 tbsp (optional/I add it to increase food value)
Star anise – 2 flowers
Salt to taste
Butter – 1 tbsp
Freshly ground white pepper
Method:
  • Put all the vegetables + lentils + star anise in a cooker or pan with salt & about 2 cups of water.
  • Cook until soft.
  • Remove the star anise (reserve for garnishing if you like) & run the soup in a blender . Strain.
  • Take some butter in a pan & saute the white pepper for a minute. Turn the soup into the pan & simmer till it comes to a boil. Serve with a drizzle of cream & freshly ground pepper.

Warm soup for the soul…pipe a heart on top & you’re all set for V-day!!

No Croutons Required‘ a new monthly food blogging event alternately hosted by Lisa’s Kitchen and Tinned Tomatoes. Each month the host will invite bloggers around the world to submit a vegetarian soup or salad recipe, sometimes with a theme, sometimes not. The theme for February is simply vegetarian soups…which fits me in quite warmly! My entry’s on its way…

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