Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Weekly Round Up: Milano

Milan’s food scene can be hard to discover, but its classic Trattorria’s and Osteria’s, once found, show distinct local ingredients used proudly with influence from surrounding Veneto, Piedmont, Lombardy and Emilia-Romagno. Cured Meats, Cheese Plates are the norm as are traditional Primi’s (mainly pastas) and Secondi’s (meats) which shine when simple and summer fresh. Because of the cities haute leanings some choose modernity and showy techniques while others keep it simple.

Of the Antipasti’s I tasted this week, none was more aesthetically nouveau than the caramelized Shallot tartin at the prestigious L’Osteria Grand Hotel (75 Via Acanio Sforza). Rich, darkened, silky Shallots nestled freely in a light pastry shell accompanied by a buttery formaggio “fonduta”. Garnished with a single Chive and Red Pepper, the dish was otherworldly for its rich but fresh approach. At the considerably more down-home Latteria San Marco (24 Via San Marco), chef Arturo made a distinctly summer cold soup hybrid called “Crudaiola” which is comprised of blended Lettuce, Carrot, Fennel, Tomatoes, and Basil served with Bulgar Wheat. His wife Maria (who runs front of house) instructed my friend and I to first mix the dish and then drench it with fresh Olive Oil. Like a Gazpacho this dish packed an earthy summer punch and was distinctly seasonal. The love the husband and wife team clearly share (the menu is of them facing one another in baroque garb; king and queen of this culinary institution) informed all of their beautifully simple dishes.

At the centrally located, but hard to find Bottiglieria Da Pino (14 Via Cerva), the charming Ferry Brothers wowed me with an affordable and luxurious lunch menu. For just 13 Euro I got a beautiful Cured Meat Plate, a Primi, Secondi, Wine and dessert! The most memorable of dishes was their Risotto of fresh Tomatoes. Never could I have imagined that the watery and light freshness of a ripe tomato could resist being weighed down by a dense creamy risotto, but perhaps I have underestimated how “clean” and light a Risotto could be. Instead of overindulging in Salt and Parmesan this dish shined for its colorful straightforwardness. Another perfect Primi was the Spaghetti Carbonara at Letteria San Marco. Pancetta and Zucchini found their synergy in a salty concoction sans egg white. The tender Zucchini and Rich golden Pancetta were so perfectly matched that no garnish or extra flair could compete to enhance the dishes distinctly rich flavors.

In the Summer months, Meats which are traditionally braised in rich sauces are boiled instead and Anchovy and Parsley pastes (Gremolata’s) replace rich gravy’s. Often served with a lettuce and Tomato fresca, these dishes are tender but not falling off the bone. The best Secondi I had was at the rustic blue collar lunch spot, Tratorria Madonnina (6 Via Gentilino). Sliced Boiled beef slathered in a rich anchovy, parsley, lemon garnish was salty and defined; bright and tangy. But for sweetness and simplicity Letteria’s Ossobuco had the most character. Arturo revealed that the Carrots were added alongside the meat, rather than before braising to guarantee their sweet shine. A local Milanese dish, often relegated to cold Winter nights, transformed into a summer breeze of tender meat and natural sugars. Served with a couscous and drenched in Olive Oil, I ate it slowly and efficiently saving the buttery Marrow for the last spectacular bite.

Having resisted what felt like a million cheese boards I caved in for a slice of Madonnina’s Tellagigo cheese. With still a sip of my Vino Bianco left, I savored each savory creamy bite.

Most nights I walked off my meal before enjoying a Gellato, rather than concluding my restaurant meals with a dessert. I will work on my dessert bias in the coming months. Till then Gelato is the most affordable and social acceptable end (or beginning ;) to a beautiful night in Italia.

Arrivederci Milano and gazie...


Margaret said...

WOW - what an amazing assortment of food, so many subtleties to experience, learn, remember, and incorporate into your own cooking - and I just love seeing each plate of food as you descibe your experience of it.. I think I need a trip to Italy myself! Keep the beautiful words coming!

Melanie said...

yo, its mol writng from mels... we ran 5 f-in miles today in an hour. word. loved talking to you last night... your blog is working, really working. love you. email me!

teanickeldime said...

Derreck told me about your blog. This is fantastic!

Ah, Gelato is great. I can't wait to see where you go next!

Ulrika said...

i am loving the blogs. seriously i feel like I am sitting next too you eating a fantastic meal. please keep the words and meals coming. by the way it's suzanne

BK misses you!

The Green Table Project said...

i am loving the blogs. seriously i feel like I am sitting next too you eating a fantastic meal. please keep the words and meals coming. by the way it's suzanne

BK misses you!