Tag Archives: Milan


5 Aug

“Zack Bruell be my boyfriend, are you married?”

“I want to be best friends with lardo.”

These were the one-liners rolling off my tongue as I ate bite after bite of excruating beauty at Chinato, on E. 4th Street.  I’ve lived in Milan, my mother has lived in Bologna and Florence but an evening at Chinato brought us almost to tears.  Here was Italian food, dare I say, better than or on par with the pinnacle of Italian gastronomy in Italy.  The price point is well, on point!  I ate here again just tonight with a friend and with a crudo, an antipasto, an entree, a dessert, a cocktail and a glass of wine WITH tip and tax was $52.  Not to mention the service was outstanding (our waiter from a few weeks ago was our waiter again and remembered us), the wine choices impeccable, we were visited by the chef himself and treated to Damilano Chinato (a digestif) following our meal.

We started with a crudo, tuna with lardo and our hearts melted a little.  My mind was racing to figure out how I could make and eat lardo every day, even if that meant my body would take the name and shape of the delicious slivers that were melting in my mouth.

Next we shared the fresh sauteed sardines with parsley, olive oil and lemon — the nostalgia of eating fresh fried sardines in Genoa when I was 20 washed over me and pulled me, like the strong oceanic undertow, back to that fleeting moment.  After, an exquisite salad of julienned pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, arugula, goat cheese, roasted turnips and balsamic dressing.  I don’t even want to describe the dish because then it’ll just give away the ending.

Our entrees: for me, the fritto misto of sweetbreads with fried caper berries (our country is at least a trillion light years behind every country when it comes to our definition of bar food — because this would blow those pee covered pretzels and peanuts at the bar out of the water), for my mother the veal breast with polenta unlike any kind of polenta you’ve ever had and salsa verde (parsley, olive oil, anchovies).

Dessert was the best almond panna cotta I’ve tasted and also a lemon polenta cake with a scoop of cherry gelato.  This is Italian comfort food, the peasant food, the cheap cuts of meat or fish and making the most out of them by perfecting the cooking technique, letting ingredients speak for themselves and coaxing flavor out of tough cuts.  The result is something like magic.

I’ve taken to listening to TED podcasts in my car on the way to work, and they have a great catch phrase: “Ideas Worth Spreading”.  Recently I came across one that just spoke to me so clearly.  This time it was Chip Conley, who spoke about how we should re-evaluate what we value: GDP (Gross Domestic Product) or GNH … Gross National Happiness.  Surely, a restaurant such as Chinato is a focused human lesson in what we should appreciate and what counts.  What is the logical outcome of people loving what they do and creating what they love for others’ enjoyment?  An intangible measurement, with a very tangible result.  I don’t think it folley to say the lessons in Chinato are ideas worth spreading.

Sour Ales

20 Jan

When you create an account with Ratebeer they ask you your favorite style of beer. In the beginning, I was a barley wine girl then a fruit lambic lady and now I feel like I might be delving into the world of sours. Barley wines were appealing, and still are, because of the high abv and they tend to have interesting sweetnesses going on.  Fruit lambics were of particular interest because they produced flavors reminiscent of those found in our family orchard and the lambic style is so varied and surprising.  Sour ales also fall into this category of surprise and a variety of flavors that can vastly differ from one to the next.  My recent excursion to Lola had the added bonus of Jolly Pumpkin’s sour ale, La Roja.  I hadn’t had one since July and it was such a pleasant reminder of the greatness of sour ales.  Off to expand the horizons once again.

The Line Up

Verhaeghe Duchesse De Bourgogne:

I wrote about this weird yet great sour earlier in “Salty Bitches” but here’s a run-down again of my notes on it.  Straight from the bottle enjoyed on a summit over Lago Lugano, Switzerland. This was recommended to me by the wife/owner of A Tutta Birra in Milano as her favorite. Most interesting beer I’ve had so far in Italy. The aroma reminded me of rotting trash and at first sip so did the flavor. Further sips revealed sour cherries, dark fruits, apricot and vanilla. Incredibly smooth on the palate, absolutely no kick at the end. Much too sweet for me, almost could be considered a dessert beer in the same vein as dessert wines.

De Ranke Kriek:

Pours a muddy purple/red with no head. On the nose: same white grape tartness as lambic gueuzes but the flavor is really watered down. Flat but crisp. Don’t get the cherry taste but more lemon and white grape. Love the crisp cool character and the slightly boozier aroma of this as compared to the guezes. Very drinkable but not very complex.

Jolly Pumpkin Perseguidor (Batch 4):

On draft at Beer Engine Sour Ale tasting. Pours a dark brown/black with ruby tinges on the side. No head. Nose: cognac as is the flavor with that white grape/almost smokey aftertaste. Flat, slightly tart and crisp. Yum. The tartness is really present in the corners of the mouth which inspires you to keep sipping away.

Rodenbach Grand Cru:

Bottle at The Beer Engine: Color: same as Rochefort 8 with no head. Aroma is funky bleu cheese and sour white grapes. Smooth slightly tart but boozier flavor at the beginning of the sip then tart bite at the back of the palate. Very refreshing and completely different than the last Flemish Red I had, Duchesse de Bourgogne. Love the diversity of this style – it felt like a borderline lambic.

Jolly Pumpkin La Roja:

750 at Lola into white wine glass. I love the label as I love all the Jolly Pumpkin label but this one is just great. The color is simply beautiful like a cross between a hoppy IPA and a mead. Fluffy orangey/tan head with a nice fruity aroma almost a kin to red wine sangria. Flavor is similar with some dark wood background notes and again that really nice fermented fruit sweet/sour combination. Such a delight.


8 Jan

I don’t actually remember making this but lucky my friend remembered for me and there’s some horrendous picture of me during the cooking process.  It was a deadly combination of Inauguration Night and our friend’s birthday in Milan.  We stumbled home to Via Caradosso 7 and needed some food.  Spaghetti, olive oil, sauteed brussels sprouts, cayenne and black pepper all tossed together.  It’s spicy, simple, has some veggie in it and enough carbs to make you sober up.  And it’s pretty!

I revisited the Caradosso concoction last night for dinner and discovered how pretty brussels sprout stems are and their insides look kind of like brains.

7 Christmas Realities and Fantasies

25 Dec

1. Grabham’s Chocolates — local spot, awesome chocolates like WHOA, specifically candied orange peel cocooned in dark chocolate.

2.  Gas stoves and new recipes — jam and doughnuts: picked up a recipe for sufganiyot from Martha Stewart and a raspberry jam recipe.  I tweaked the recipe using 8 small packs of raspberries, only 3 cups sugar (I’d use less next time), juice from 2 navel oranges, a tablespoon of orange zest and a tablespoon of ground ginger.  The ginger balances the sweetness SO well. Boiled the hell out of it for a long time, and I didn’t strain out the seeds.  This was my first jam and to blatantly brag, it was gohgeous.  Oh and the gas stove bit is partially about my pyro tendencies but mostly about the fact that the inventor of electric stoves is in a very deep ring of Hell.

3.  Oystah Stew and Osso Bucco — Mama made the osso bucco tonight for tomorrow’s Christmas dinner and I made our traditional oyster stew for Christmas Eve.  All you need is a small saucepan, 2 tablespoons butter melted in it, add 2 cans of oysters and their juices.  Simmer until the oysters’ edges curl then add 1 cup of heavy whipping cream and 2 cups of milk.  Serve when it gets frothy.  Winter warmer fo sho.

4.  Sleeping ’til 5.

5.  Wanting to get out of the States and go back to Milano with my lovely roommate for many aperitivi.

6.  Wanting desperately to lose myself in a market in Barcelona or Parma, run into a dashing European man who instantly falls in love with me.

7.  Human seatbelts made from a big brother — I got trapped for a while under the heavy feet of a passed out big brother today, almost made me late to the grocery store for my jam provisions.

In Praise of Foie Gras

30 Nov

It’s a beautiful thing and all you have to do is force feed a duck to fatten up its liver for it!  Sometimes I wish I could feel bad about that, but then Anthony Bourdain does a little expo and shows that it’s not so bad and plus it’s just so scrumptious that the sinner in me is a happy to be ingesting such a smooth delight.  I had only one bad experience with foie gras and that was in a very lovely little ristorante around the corner from my apartment in Milano.  Apparently, in Milan and perhaps most of Italy, foie gras is prepared very differently — it’s not the deliciously hot grilled fatty lobe I’ve come to love.  I believe it was a paté and I’m sad to report I really just couldn’t finish it: the richness alone and in that quantity was overpowering and it was cold which threw me off too.  With the kind of foie gras I love I feel like a nice lambic or maybe even a sour would be a fitting pairing with this creamy, fatty, buttery gift from the gods.

However,  I had a gorgeous rendition of the heated type in Toano, VA at Dudley’s Farmhouse Grille.  If you’re ever near this place, go!  They specialize in wild game and have a small seating area which provides for a more intimate atmosphere, which is furthered by the owner who is also the chef.  I wish my liver could wind up in such a happy state after I’m gone.  Anyways, the foie gras was my primo and my secondo was a mixed plate of venison, wild boar and quail.  Then I slipped into a loverly food coma.

San Siro

21 Oct

I have to say that very little in the way of sandwiches can compare to the Gunes Istanbul Doner Kebab but when it’s freezing and you’ve walked 5 miles in a scary part of Milan at night to reach the San Siro Stadium (in which A.C. Milan and Inter share the field) the smashed sausage panini flowing out of the night food stands are AWESOME.

le miei amici ed io al San Siro

photo courtesy of AS-H

They turn out the sandwiches in lightning speed and they are the only type offered for miles: bread halved, grilled smashed flat sausage, grilled peppers and onions, mayo and ketchup.  Knocked back with a Tennents Super and the two combine to ward off the frigid temperatures until you’re crowded into the stadium jostled by the enthusiastic fans screaming “VAFFANCULOOOOOO!!!” to the opposing team and their fans.

san siro

photo courtesy of JB

ALS Beer Dinner Fundraiser

19 Oct

I’m coming up to the last few days before my ALS Beer Dinner Event goes down and things are getting down to the wire in a fun and slightly overwhelming way!  Luckily over the summer I secured awesomely generous donations from three incredible local Ohio microbreweries:  Thirsty Dog, Buckeye Brewing and Hoppin’ Frog.  These guys really blew me away with their donations, encouragement and enthusiasm not to mention they are my favorite Ohio microbreweries.

From Thirsty Dog: Raspberry Ale, Labrador Lager, Lunar Lager and Old Leghumper Porter

From Buckeye: Zatek Old Ale, 76 IPA, Old Mammoth Stout

From Hoppin’ Frog: Wee Heavy Scotch Red Ale, BORIS Oatmeal Impy

As for the menu, I’ve been striving for all local and all donated which is a little tough as it turns out but I’ve had some great feedback and donations from local businesses in terms of food donations and raffle prizes.  Sometimes I feel like I need a permanent assistant to follow me around while I dictate my insanely long To-Do Lists and navigate the web of email responses.  Luckily I have a great team of volunteers selling raffle tickets, helping prep food and awesome friends keeping my brain from becoming an addled mush.

To the meat of the issue, here’s why I’m doing this fundraiser: this dinner is for the benefit of Lou Gehrig’s Disease (aka Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis) research. This is a cause I’ve supported for 5 years since the disease claimed my father. In memory of the 5th anniversary of his death, I thought he’d especially appreciate an event featuring our two favorite things, beer and food. Funds raised will go directly to Project ALS in the hopes that continued, proactive research will find a cure for this terminal, neuromuscular degenerative disease.

The event features a 5 course meal paired with samples of 9 different beers.  There will be a raffle where you can win prizes like a Pumpkin Beer gift basket donated by Rozi’s Wine and Liquor House, a custom made cake from local baker extraordinaire Liz Keeney, gift certificates to the Village Deli and Middle Ground, beer steins and a Kenyon blanket from the College Bookstore.

The Menu:


Grilled hot italian sausage with lemon and cilantro

Sweet potatoes Anna

Osso Bucco

Local cheese plate with local chocolates, Beckwith apples and cider

Mini BORIS pancakes with honey

*sorbet palate cleanser in between courses of Thirsty Dog’s Raspberry Ale

me and Poppie

the whole reason

Extra Sloppy

30 Sep

Is it just me or do you love sloppy-ass cafeteria food?  My dining hall at school is not so hot but it’s definitely superior in some aspects than my high-school’s dining hall.  However, there’s one thing they never get right at college and that’s the vats of extra sloppy casseroles, in particular tuna noodle.  You don’t really know what’s in it, it smells faintly of warmed up cat food, but it’s soooooo good when you start eating it.  And what happened to sloppy joes?  The cream of the crop when it comes to slop?  Stop forcing fried tofu on me and give me the lard-filled tubs of casseroles, because I never feel full in quite the same way anymore.  You know the kind when you unbutton and unzip the pants?  Perfection.  And America needs to get on board with serving beer and wine in cafeterias.  The Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan knew how to do it — it was right next to the sparkling water.lunch lady land


3 Sep

I’m back at school where the food options are pretty dismal and our dining hall has to be putting laxatives in the food. Not fun.  Sadly I haven’t been able to cook much besides the first night of grilling which was very fun.  The first week back is off to a slow, plodding start with boring homework and an unmotivated me.  However, I have been able to re-examine the local beer scene which is really in a fledgling state but surprisingly good for our area.  On Ratebeer we are considered to be in “Rural USA” … no joke, we are surrounded by the Amish and meth labs.

There are a few individuals that run the bar scene (a whopping 3 in town) that are paying attention to good beer.  There’s Bob at The Village Market who has been stocking micros for years now and as of this year even had a Baladin Super and La Rulles Triple.  At the Gambier Grille, more commonly known as The Cove, they have some micros on tap and then a very small bottle selection including Anchor Porter, Great Lakes and Sam Adams.  A trip to the greats of Columbus is in order very soon because as much as I like a good Two Hearted at the bar, I’m going to be thirsting for the weird and strange before too long.  I do have one greatly anticipated beer I get to share tomorrow — Baladin Xyauyù Etichetta Oro that I’m incredibly excited about.  A 2005 bottle I purchased at A Tutta Birra in Milano, will be enjoyed in a short 24 hours.  Expect a full report.

Late-night Samiches

9 Aug

I love a really good sandwich with an equally matched beer — they’re easy to make, infinitely variable and portable.  So here are my four favorite sandwiches as of late, mostly late-night-scrounging-around creations.

First:  This first one came into being one late night in Milan when my roommate and I were desperate for food and our tiny fridge seemed huge with its insides voided by previous raids.  We luckily had four things available to us — a banana, one slice of wheat bread, peanut butter (sales of which are probably more lucrative than crack to American customers in Italy) and a tablespoon of jam.  I took out a skillet, put a small slice of salted butter (Kerry Gold — yes I was a poor student that splurged on butter) in the hot pan and the last piece of wheat bread we had on top to toast.  On the bread was spread a layer of extra crunchy peanut butter, Bon Maman strawberry jam and slices of banana.  I thought Elvis might be proud of my first forays into sweet, fattening, salty fried sandwich concoctions.  Need I explain how delicious this was?  How the saltiness of the toasted bread connected with the salty sweet peanut butter, the juiciness of the jam, the crunch of the bread with the mellow softness of the banana?  I guess not.  While I didn’t have it at the time I’ve often thought a dry stout such as Three Floyds Black Sun Stout would be a nice complement.

Second:  While in Italy I consumed so many prosciutto crudo and fontina panini that I grew to hate the sight of them.  So I decided to create an old favorite for the first time — chicken salad.  This is my favorite “salad” sandwich of all time but the mayonnaise has always scared me and I wanted to make it without.  I got some chicken breast, grilled and diced it up then threw it in a bowl with a small container of Fage Total 0% greek yogurt, chopped celery, halved red grapes, salt and pepper to taste.  Toasted up some wheat bread, lettuce, tomato and a big slop of the chicken salad.  The yogurt is the key component — it’s incredibly good for you, thick and delicious so you feel like this is a serious treat and it is.  Throw back with an IPA of your choosing.

Third:  The scorcher.  Wheat bread toasted with guacamole slathered on one piece and Defcon sauce (or whatever hot sauce you prefer) on the other, tomatoes, cajun rubbed chicken slices.  It’s simple but the spice of the garlic/onion/cilantro in the guac with the hot sauce and spicy chicken is awesome.  And the array of textures is so good.  An American strong ale, Lagunitas Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale, is probably the only thing to knock out the heat.  DO NOT try to kiss anyone after eating this.

Fourth:  Grilled cheese, that childhood standby and delectable snack.  My first grilled cheese experiences as a kid did not involve tomato soup, that came later when I first encountered school cafeteria food.  Grilled cheese was done at home in a skillet with butter and usually a loaf of rustic french bread with provolone or muenster cheese and always pepperoni (thanks to my bro for that one).  Up until maybe high school or my first year in college this was how we ate grilled cheese, until I started messing around with the status quo.  Thank god our status quo was already miles beyond delicious but the addition of horseradish cheddar cheese and pepido peppers made all the difference.

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