Angelica | The perfect recipe for Christmas

Angelica has, in the three months it has been open, established itself as the go-to café in Valletta for those who love genuine food and a relaxed and upmarket ambience.

The divine chocolate and salted caramel tarts
The divine chocolate and salted caramel tarts

Designed by brilliant art director Carlo Schembri, whose previous jobs have included collaborating on the interior of the iconic Fiat 500 and the lovely St George's Square in Valletta, photographed and styled by Brian Grech and Stephen Azzopardi, and enjoyed for its chic and comfortable surroundings by its now very regular customers, Angelica now also stocks a fantastic selection of good foods for those who want to make somebody (including themselves!) very happy this Christmas and New Year.

Amedei chocolate

Chocolate makes people happy and good chocolate makes them swoon. Mona Farrugia, who owns Angelica, spent a good two years researching different brands of fine chocolate around Eu- rope, trying to decide which one was best. It was a job she describes as, "Tough, but some- body had to do it."

From Brussels' Pierre Marcolini to London's Hotel Chocolat and Paris' Un Dimanche a Paris, she finally settled on a selec- tion of mono crus brought together in a most loving way in Tuscany, Italy.

"What clinched it for me was the least 'chocolatey' of all chocolates: the white one. White chocolate is made of cocoa butter and sugar. Sometimes the block would have had extras added such as vanilla bean or nuts. While in London

I bought a 500g bar - the Incontri - by Amedei from the Selfridges' food hall and the flavour, the juxtaposition of that super smooth white bar which melts in your mouth and slides down your

throat, coupled with crunchy, crispy hazelnuts, was just divine. Many white chocolates tend to burn the back of your throat: with the Incontri, I just couldn't get enough. That clinched it."

Angelica now stocks a selection of bars and Napolitains (tiny flat squares - a mono-dose, so to speak).

"They were gone within a week. I could not believe it. It became obvious that the Maltese know the difference between fine and mediocre and they will not settle for less."

So now Angelica has a new stock of most of the Amedei range, including the dark bars with cherry and strawberry, the white bars with pistacchi as well as one of the finest chocolates in the world: the mono-cru from Madagascar. Prices start at around €3.50 and go up to €130 for a kilo of single-es- tate chocolate. And they all sell for cheaper than the sell- ing prices in London in spite of the horrendous freight prices which anybody in Malta has to pay to have fine chocolate transported under controlled conditions.

Suki Tea

"At Angelica, we love watching people's eyes light up when we do what we call the 'tea process'. We use a silver tray to take a little teapot, a sieve and fine china cups to our custom- ers, who can then enjoy five minutes relaxing and enjoy- ing their loose-leaf tea," says Mona.

"In this world of quick take- aways and eating on the fly, our selection of Suki Teas (in the UK, Suki supply most one and two-star Michelin restaurants) is just amazing, which is why when people ask about something they have not yet tried, we bring down the jar and let them smell it. The favourite is Apple Loves Mint, with its tiny rosebuds and wonderful chopped apple but the Spicy Citrus, with cloves and cardamom, as well as, of course, pieces of dried orange, mandarin and lemon, comes a close second."

For those who would like to have a little bit of Angelica with their breakfast, Angelica now stocks Suki Pyramids in Spicy Citrus, Earl Grey and English Breakfast.

"Their flavour is so wonderful it is the only thing I want to start my day with: I actually enjoy the process of getting out of bed and making myself a cuppa," Mona says.

Wines and champagnes

All those who love to travel know that in most places in Italy, you can easily get a nice glass of prosecco without having to buy an entire bottle. In France, champagne 'on tap' (that is, a flute) is also available even in the smallest of bistros. So why not in Malta? Angelica stocks a great range of wines, including Brut, Brut Rosé and Extra Brut from the house of Murgo' in the Etna region in Sicily. Starting at just €17.50 for a bottle of very fine Brut (if the grape is not grown in Champagne, then the wine cannot be called a 'cham- pagne' but its regular nomenclature of 'Brut') Angelica sells bottles at retail prices. This means that after work, you can pop over for a glass or a bottle to take home without any stress or having to pay a restaurant premium.

Apart from the Bruts, the little Valletta café also has a lovely selection of reds and whites by the glass, starting from just €2.90 a glass.

"Our best seller is a wonderfully dark and fruity Malbec from Argentina, with the Rioja coming a close second. Oddly, they are also our most expensive 'glass of red' but the kind of customers Angelica attracts know the difference between a fine wine and a cheap one and are happy and willing to pay the price to sit and sip it in a pleasant atmosphere, with people they enjoy talking to."

The ambience, the food, the sweets, the princesses Angelica has an amazing array of freshly-baked pies - steak 'n' ale, free-range chicken and leek, pumpkin, gbejna (fresh sheep's cheeselets), mushroom and whatever fillings are in season.

"We buy directly from local farmers. A Valletta baker bakes our bread in his wood-burning oven and we ensure that we never include provers, additives or margarines in anything we make. Our customers love this. Nonetheless, our biggest selling point is not even the food, although of course that is deli- cious, or the sweets - anything from Chocolate Nemesis which just melts in your mouth to the famed Chocolate and Salted Caramel Tarts, which some customers have on regular, weekly order - but our staff and the atmosphere inside.

"The communal table, which we origi- nally thought some people would not feel comfortable at, has turned out to be a great space for a chat as people break down barriers and just relax with each other. The customers we attract - mostly professionals and the artistic crowd come here because they feel very much at home with the kind of people they want to socialise with. Even our playlist is well-thought out and regularly we have people who start to sing out loud to the music.

"What makes Angelica though," Mona concludes, "is our wonderful staff, the Cupcake Princesses and Prince who absolutely love working at the café. Their smiles are genuine, their enthusiasm for serving customers is amazing. We - myself and our regular customers - are extremely lucky to have them."

Have a Christmas treat

Angelica is putting together bespoke hampers and gifts for those who have little time to do so themselves. Please send an e-mail on [email protected] with a simple price range and leave it up to us to put together some very personalised hampers which will surely stand out. Angelica is also bookable for private functions.

Address: 134, Archbishop Street, Valletta

Contact: [email protected] or 7927 5727

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The Author of this article seems purposely missing, the style of writing with obvious spelling errors leads one to believe that the patron of this establishment wrote it themselves, perhaps after afixing their own 4 star award?
I cant really say the same, I went last week the food was OK but what a rip off! Mona was shouting at the staff and rude to a customer who asked why the bill was so much. A one off I wont go again but maybe I expected much much more Ed