DINNER IS SERVED!
There is a sort of excitement I get when preparing a meal in Milan. Armed with various bags I head out collect my groceries. Coming back to Italy I have reconnected with the sort of domestic life that seems to no longer exist in so much of the world. Like a scavenger hunt, each item is collected one by one and along the way I get to connect with shopkeepers who pay as much attention to their patrons as their products. It is a reminder that Italian life is about the details—If you pay attention to each one, you can trust that the whole will work. A philosophy that governs my work like, as well as my kitchen.
I start by going to the market on San Marco (open Mondays and Thursday from 7:30 to 14:00). There is everything here, from barnacled oysters to fluffy wool jumpers. And it is a perfect place to get inspired. People are buzzing about the market, even on this cold morning. Ripe tomatoes, colorful lettuce and baskets of moss-covered mushrooms are laid out before me at one of the vegetable sellers. Not yet sure what I’ll be serving my guests, I scan the stall and see a basket of artichokes. They are exactly what I’m looking for, I settle for a kilo each of the artichoke and purple Radicchio di Treviso lettuce with its long and curly stems.
My meal is starting to take shape, and I then set off to Porta Venezia in search of the quintessential fresh pasta. In Italy, fresh pasta recalls the skilled hands of a mother or grandmother rolling out dough with a rolling pin on a quiet Sunday morning surrounded by family. In Via Melzo, which is a busy street in the evening, during the day you can breathe the typical calm and tranquility of the neighborhood. And here the Brambilla family has their shop of fresh, exclusively handmade pasta. You can order all the fresh pasta you want and take it home: from ‘simple’ tagliatelle to the potato gnocchi, to the varied and unusual stuffed pasta. For my dinner, I chose the delicious ravioli with spinach and ricotta.
I begin composing the menu in my head and make my way to Terroir. It is the best shop in Milan for artisan food and wine, an authentic expression of their "terroir". It is a pleasure to visit this small shop where the refined selection meets the kindness of Gabriele, the owner, always ready to tell the story of a product and give good advice.
At home, I lay out the ingredients on the table. While thinly slicing artichokes and tossing them into a bowl of cold water, my daughter comes into the room: “Can I help?” she asks; and then, “What’s for dessert?” "Of course! Dessert!" “Darling, I forgot!" "Can you run and pick me up some bread and tarts at Signor Lievito? Whatever you find will be great!”