Restaurant Review: Botticino

Address: Trident, Bandra Kurla Complex
Reservations: Yes
Price: Rs. 8000, meal for 4 minus alcohol

The Italians have a saying that goes ‘Viva il cuoco che ci delizia con leccornie e allegria’. This means ‘bless the cook who serves love and laughter’. I’d like to begin my review by thanking Chef Sushil and Manager Ms. Alisha Rampal of the Italian restaurant Botticino (Trident Hotel, BKC) for serving my family and I one of the finest Italian meals we’ve had in a long time. I cannot seem to remember the last time that I ate such good food, leaving me craving for a whole lot more.

We kicked off my sister’s 21st birthday countdown with this dinner. Quite frankly we entered the restaurant with no expectations because Italian food has now become so redundant all over Mumbai, there’s nothing new left to try. Little did we know we would be proven wrong.

Dinner began with a bottle of Fratelli Sangiovese and freshly baked bread. My mother was supremely happy because the restaurant offers a completely different menu for vegetarians. Her night was made at that very moment :). For my Jain readers, a lot of the dishes on this special menu can also be made as Jain preparations. We chose the Mushroom, porcini and morel cream soup and the Roman style Minestrone.  For mains we had the Parmesan ravioli (celery cream, black truffle, butter and sage), Asparagus and bell pepper risotto (cherry tomato and scamorza cheese), Primaverole pizza and the baked lasagna (with aubergine caponata, mozzarella cheese and parmesan sauce).

Both soups were absolutely authentic. The minestrone is such a simple soup yet tingled every one of my taste buds. The mushroom soup was definitely worth the allergy that broke out by the end of the meal (for those of you who are allergic like I am, just pop in a pill! You don’t want to miss out on this soup). It’s served with a ricotta and truffle tortellini and dried porcini. The server then pours hot morel cream over it. It’s now ready for you to enjoy.

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The pizza unfortunately was a bit of a let down after this. We found it a tad rubbery and it saddens me to say that it was served at room temperature.

The ravioli came next and found it’s way to my heart making me excuse the pizza debacle. After just two bites of the buttery-sage, celery cream, black truffle goodness that was the ravioli, I wasn’t entirely sure that I wanted to share the rest of the dish with my family, but I kind of had to! The next time I’m back at Botticino I will be sure to order one ONLY FOR ME.

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The Arborio rice (risotto) was cooked to absolute perfection. The asparagus, bell peppers and cherry tomatoes blended perfectly with just the right amount of scamorza cheese.

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For me, the hero of the evening was the ravioli (probably because I’m a sucker for truffles), but for the rest of my family it was the lasagna. The caponata was extremely tender with the right balance of cheese and parmesan sauce. Finger licking good!

After this point I didn’t think that I’d be able to go through dessert but, as the Italians say ‘C’è sempre posto per un ultimo boccone’, which means ‘there’s always room for a tasty treat!’ So we ordered a selection of the homemade ice cream – sea salt and burnt sugar, bitter chocolate and stracciatella (similar to your plain Jane chocolate chip ice cream, only much better!) and their signature dish, the Mocha Budino. Alisha explains that this is a coffee flavoured mousse, but the texture is such that it can remind you of a pudding. They serve it with cannelloni filled with ricotta and pistachio and has hints of candied orange, extracted from the orange peel (that is a part of the filling). What do I know, I was just too busy devouring it! We also cut a small  celebratory chocolate mousse cake that was nothing short of DIVINE, that was on the house, courtesy of Botticino being on the American Express fine dining list. Let me also add here that if you are a Cassata fan, Chef Sushil is happy to whip it up for you if you let him know in advance. 

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There are two Italian sayings that I’d like to finish with because they do complete justice to my experience – ‘Cucinare è una forma d’amore‘ which means ‘cooking is love made visible‘ and ‘La buona cucina rende allegri’, ‘laughter is brightest where food is best’, roughly translated. Both these stand true because this was one of the loveliest dinners we’ve eaten together as a family. I for one cant wait to go back to see what Chef Sushil comes up with in the new menu (to be launched soon, or just to see how the ravioli is doing!).

Buon Appetito!

P.S I wish I had carried my camera along for better photographs 😦

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Your Perfect Apple Crumble

There are few desserts as warm and comforting as a righteous apple crumble. I’m ashamed to say that the first time I tried one was only 2 years ago(!) when a friend of mine made it for me at University. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever eaten so I just had to share this. It would be rather unfair to keep this all to myself. The one I ate had raspberries and blueberries, but here is his original apple crumble recipe. You can always substitute the apples for berries 🙂
Enjoy!

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Ingredients

For the crumble
300gm plain flour, sieved with a pinch of salt
175gm brown sugar
200gm unsalted butter, cubed at room temperature
Knob of butter for greasing

For the filling
450gm apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1cm pieces
50gm unrefined brown sugar
1 tbsp plain flour
1 pinch ground cinnamon

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
2. Place the flour and sugar in a large bowl and mix well. Taking a few cubes of butter at a time rub into the flour mixture. Keep rubbing until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Watch the rubbing in technique here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LW6H_SL_TJo

3. Place the fruit in a large bowl and sprinkle over the sugar, flour and cinnamon. Stir well, being careful not to break up the fruit.
4. Grease a 9″ ovenproof dish. Spoon the fruit mixture into the bottom, then sprinkle the crumble mixture on top.
5. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until the crumble is browned and the fruit mixture bubbling.
6. Serve with thick cream or custard.

Red food colour can also be added for presentation purposes, but I avoid using food colour.

Diwali Series – Part I

One of the most awaited festivals of the year is finally here. The smell of firecrackers*, twinkling diyas (butter lamps) and fairy lights, colourful rangolis (patterns made on the floor/ courtyard of every Indian household, from coloured rice, dry flours or flower petals), fresh mithais and (Indian sweets) and happy souls are all a beautiful reminder, that the Indian festival of lights ‘Diwali’ is on its way. The entire country and Indians all around the world come together to celebrate the historic victory of good over evil. Families and friends get together to wish each other, donning new attire and gorge on lavish, traditional feasts. Houses are decked up with gorgeous butter lamps, lanterns, ranglolis and traditional household items. This year, Diwali will be celebrated on the 23rd of October.
There’s something about this festival that makes me so happy. I’m not sure what it is, but I think it’s a culmination of a little bit of everything – friends and families coming together, dressing up, decorating your home, cooking for your loved ones, and sharing so much love and warm wishes. My sister and I have been making ranglolis and prettying the house with my Mum ever since I can remember, I think this is also another reason why this festival is so special to me, because it’s kind of “our thing”.

To know more about the festival, take a look here- http://www.diwalifestival.org

I’m hosting two dinners in the week for my friends and thought that this would be a great opportunity to share some of my recipes with you. Therefore, I came up the Diwali series. My first dinner was on Sunday, the 12th. Indian cuisine was on the menu.

Let’s start with the best item on the menu – the dessert! I used gourmet cook Asha Khatau’s recipe for this one.

This recipe serves 6-8.

Ingredients:

For the tart base:
50 gm cooking chocolate (dark)
50 gm butter
175 gm crushed digestive biscuits
2 tbsp powdered sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder

For the mousse:
150 gm cooking chocolate (dark)
¼ cup fresh cream
1 tsp instant coffee powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
½ cup whipping cream
3 tbsp powdered sugar

Method:

For the base:
1. Place the chocolate, butter and cocoa powder in a container. Heat in a microwave for 1½ minute. Stir until smooth.
2. Lightly grease a 7” round, loose bottomed tin (I have a non-stick so I did not need to line it with butter paper) and set aside.
3. Grind the digestive biscuits and sugar together until you get fine crumbs.
4. Pour the melted chocolate mix into the biscuit crumb mix and stir together. You should get a nice, rich, wet sand like consistency.

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5. Stir this into the greased tin. Using a spatula or the back of a ramekin, press firmly into the base of the tin. Make sure the mixture is spread out evenly. It should also cover about 1 – 1½ inch of the sides of the tin.
6. Place it in the fridge to chill for 20-25 minutes.

For the mousse:
1. Take the instant coffee powder and dissolve it in 4 tbsp of boiling water.
2. Place the chocolate, fresh cream and coffee in a container. Heat in a microwave for 1 minute. Stir until smooth.
3. Add the vanilla essence, stir and then set it aside to cool.
4. Whip the cream with the powdered sugar until it forms soft peaks. Be sure not to over whip.
5. Fold it into the (cooled) chocolate mix.

Once the base has hardened in the fridge and the mousse is ready, pour it over the base. Cover it with cling film and keep it in the fridge to chill. It will need about 4 hours.

Take the dessert out of the fridge in about 2 hours should you wish to decorate it. I say this because you want to get this done whilst it still hasn’t set completely. You can top it with fresh berries and dust some sugar, whipping cream, sprinkles, edible gold dust, sugar flowers, chocolate curls, whatever you like. I topped mine with edible gold dust (courtesy Dr. Oetker), chocolate vermicelli and 4 delicate, edible sugar flowers.

Quick Tip:
Since this is an eggless dessert, the base tends to get a little hard. I recommend you take it out of the fridge 20 minutes prior to serving.

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Enjoy the sinfulness!

Do let me know what you think of this recipe.

*I strongly urge you to have a noiseless, firecracker-free Diwali this year. Not only do they harm the environment, but buying crackers also gives impetus to this industry that very unfortunately indulges in child labour.