Milan...a city to be discovered where Bunnies are welcome and the Colomba was born
View of Milan from the TOP of the Duomo, a must see in any season.
This will be an ever evolving location. As Milan is a 1 hour train ride from our home in Lugano and we have dear, generous friends living in Citta studi, I am there at least once per month. Timely to begin this evolution now, as Milan is where traditional Italian Easter cake, the Colomba was born. This dove shaped sweet cake, colomba is the word for dove in Italian, is a standard treat on any Easter table. Uniquely this is a sweet rarely made at home, instead it is purchased from varying specialty shops, all competing to be the best, as well there are the standards from the grocery, Motta being the most popular, with a claim to be the original maker of this cake.
Ironically Milan, the city I was least likely to enjoy in Italy, has grown on me. Milan is simply a city to be discovered. Speaking with a client recently, we agreed that Milan is a city of hidden treasures from the courtile inside any given building to the winding streets of Brera and the not so widely known story of Caterina Sforza and the Castle Sforzesca, which holds her name.
Late last year I stumbled upon a cafe in Brera, Slow Sud, which makes some of the best cocktails I have ever had, original and delicious, and served with a flair. In March at my 3rd and 4th visits the bartender actually knew the Xix bar from Barcelona, apparently they are famous amongst bartenders. On my first in visit in December for an apero, Dario, a swarthy Sicilian dazzled me with a drink called the American Woman (Bitter Marendry, ancient Carpan formula, soda). It was so good I went back for a second the next day with dinner, a selection of Sicilian style tapas, the best of which was a burger (which is sadly no longer on the menu), and I was equally impressed. The low lights, jazzy music, friendly staff, and easy atmosphere make this place a perfect spot to relax after a long day, and the fun menu is tasty and innovative.
Featured center Bunny with the American woman; top right Dario preparing the cocktail; center right his presentation; bottom right the ingredients.
Upon my return in March there was an equally impressive bartender with his own set of cocktails, in a gin mood I had a Luxor (Bombay gin, crème de lychee, mastiha lime, powdered sugar, tonka bean) and honestly it was nearly an orgasm in a glass. It was exquisite, the same elegance as the drink Sasha had at Xix in Barcelona, served up by a handsome Italian male with a flair for the cocktail shaker. So good was it, I went back and had one with dinner, and it turned out they have changed the food menu as well. Shrimp on a bed of one of my favorite greens in season, a small feast to celebrate the end of as successful work day.
Left Bunny with the Luxor and right shrimp and greens enter the photo.
On this same trip I made it to Rovello18, also in Brera, a place I have been meaning to get to for years. Every time I walk by it is out of hours for eating. This trip, with just an hour to spare, I made it for a single plate; anchovies over my same favorite greens. Divine. My only mistake, as you will see in the photo, red wine. Generously the waiter, changed me out for a wonderful white and the meal was a huge success. I suggest this place for a special evening or for a one plate meal you will surely enjoy. Also featured, one of my favorite coffee spots on the other side of town, Cafe Novecento on Corso Como near Garibaldi station is one of my favorite places for a coffee, and recently when there the spirited woman barista turned me on to cinnamon in my cappuccino; now I can barely drink it without. This newly regentrified area of Milan is swarming with cafes and restaurants and for an early morning coffee I strongly recommend this lively local spot. As it turns out it is quite popular for aperitivo, I will have to check it out when I am next there.
Left Bunny with the sardines and the fatefully bad red wine selection; right coffee with cinnamon at 900.
When hungry and not wanting a fuss, I often find myself at an old favorite, Giacomo Caffe just inside the first cortile of the Palazzo Reale. This bustling bar, in the true Italian sense, could be where coffitivity originated. Whether I am here for a coffee, an apero, or lunch, I choose to sit in the main room where the bar is always in full bustle with the clamor of the coffee machine, people queuing, and waiters hustling about. A mirror strategically placed above the bar literally amplifies the entire effect. The coffee is hands down among the best in Milan and the pastries are most often of the same grade.
Kenan enjoying a Shakeratto this summer at Giacomo caffe
Giacomo Caffe really is a nearly hidden gem in the heart of Milan just next to the Duomo, you will see as many Milanese, maybe even more for the lunch crowd, as tourists. The lunch is generally good and one must be attentive, recently my pasta della norma which I love for its smoked ricotta, was minus the smoked ricotta. The waiter who served me took no notice, the veterans passing by immediately took in the look on my face and made all matter of action to correct the situation, I got a new plate plus a side bowl of extra grated smoked ricotta. Another reason I love this place, the majority of the staff are of the professional ilk, this IS their job vs a waiting station (pun intended) and they do it well. The upscale version of this place is next door, on top of the 900 museum, Giacomo Arengario, definitely a special occasion place.
When I do not stay with friends, there is a lovely bed and breakfast which I highly suggest, Bronzino House. Walter and Evelina have made your home away from home in their place, just two en suite rooms with a cozy dining area and comfortable chairs, I love this place and feel happy each time I stay.
Off to the next stop, watch this space