The Fresser

Making a meal of Milan

Milan has much to offer the greedy traveller. Here are five good reasons to make a weekend of it:

November 14, 2018 21:37

I’ve a big birthday coming. Don’t worry, you won’t miss it, I’ll be hinting at it for the next month or so.

To kick off the celebrations, I popped over to Milan with my bestie for a joint celebration. We were guests of the Baglioni Hotel, staying in 5 star luxury in the city centre.

Bestie and I have been friends for 40 years, so were fine with a shared room. Not many secrets when you’ve known someone since you were 10 years old. We’re also well matched on the mini-break front. Up for all the same things — good food, a drink or three and a child (and husband)-free mooch.

Daytimes were spent marching around the city centre, oooing and ahhhing over the endless displays of high fashion and stopping off to refuel along the way.

There were plenty of delicious treats to keep hunger at bay. Milan is utterly delicious and totally set up for dawn to dusk noshing.

I won’t bore you with the detail of our eatathon, so here are my five highlights and must-do’s for a weekend in Milan:


You may think aperitivo would be a pre-dinner drink. You’d be half right, but it’s not just an alcoholic bevvie. The Italian tradition of aperitivo is more about the food than the drink — it could have been invented by (and definitely for) us Jews. Your cocktail is just an additional meal opportunity.

At every bar we visited, the drink arrived with a table full of tasty Italian titbits. In our hotel it kicked off with salted peanuts, crunchy friend corn kernels and giant green olives. We were happy enough with that, but minutes later, the waiter brought over a platter of bruschetta, huge chunks of mouth-watering Parmigiano Reggiano and tiny sandwiches.

The next night at a branch of high-end Italian bakery chain Princi, our Aperol Spritz’s were surrounded by baskets of tiny pieces of garlic focaccia, slivers of pizza, larger pieces of ciabatta and tiny sandwiches that I didn’t get to taste as they were made with ham and cheese. A second round of drinks brought even more carbs!  

Gelato Oggi:

Even in a very northern, drizzly city, gelato shops abound. On the Corso Garibaldi that runs north from the boutique-filled Brera area of the city centre, our first gelato was mildly meh. My choice of chestnut was interesting but not earth shattering. Bestie’s ginger cornet was zinging with spice, but again nothing to blog about. 

Our second ice cream that day — I won’t apologise, we were celebrating — blew the first gelato out of the water.

Ice cream venue two, was Oggi (which translates as today) and was a little bit different. Abundant dried flowers hang from the ceiling. Ice creams are hidden under silver lids in the display counter.

I learned recently why that is a good thing. Ice cream supremo, Kitty Travers of La Grotta ice cream shop was being interviewed by Itamar Srulovich of Honey & Co on their wonderful podcast, about ice cream. She explained that ice cream should not sit in those huge mounds you see in freezer counters. Not if you want to scoop it to serve, anyway. To sit like that it will, most likely, be filled with things you don’t want in your ice cream. Or in anything you’re going to ingest.

I digress. Under the silver lids were the most delicious ice creams we had ever tasted. Bestie loves apple ice cream. The apple and cinnamon flavour didn’t disappoint. It was love at first lick. I felt the same about my Pulcinella, which was crammed with fresh ricotta, tiny shards of dark chocolate, crunchy pistachios and orange zest. We literally sighed with delight - not something I've had with ice cream ever. Even the rain pouring on our heads as we left Oggi could not dampen our icy joy. (We were too smitten to remember to take pics of our cones, so I've downloaded a shot from Oggi's site to make you drool.)


Not my pun, but one created by the founder of this temple of Italian food, in a converted theatre north in the Corso Como area. It stretches over three floors, like a department store of Italian food. A foodie dream. From cheese to chocolate, pasta to pastries and fresh produce to pizza, you could spend the day there. They make their own cheese and have several in-house eateries so you could make a day of it. What I loved even more than the store itself, was watching how seriously the Italians take their food. People our for the evening were chatting, but you could see how focussed they also were on the main event — what was on their plates. A don’t miss.

Cool Department stores:

Corso Como 10 is about the coolest department store I have set foot in. Founded by the sister of the editor of Italian Vogue, it is packed with leading designers and plenty of its own branded goodies. The café and outdoor garden bar are achingly trendy, but not offputtingly so. Had we not been stuffed with pizza and ice cream and ready to trot back to our hotel to put our feet up, we’d have treated ourselves to an aperitivo there. There are even a couple of suites to stay in.

Another hot shop is La Rinascente, a far larger beast, with ten floors of fashion. Even if you’re not looking to bag a designer bargain, their food hall is worth a visit for the views it offers of the Duomo, the huge, pale cathedral that is one of Milan’s famous landmarks.

Super snacks:

We ate so many snacks we barely had a proper meal, but two of the eateries we grazed at deserve a mention. Tamandi on Corso Garibaldi serves up slices of focaccia generously slathered in tasty toppings. We shared pillowy slabs of chewy bread — one topped with bitter, red radicchio and salty, sweet gorgonzola and the other with thin slices of sweet, roasted pumpkin and smoky mozzarella. Both delicious and gone in minutes. Scooby would have been proud.

The second star snack was taken at breakfast time. We’d eaten one delicious breakfast at our hotel, but passing this Ravizza caffé en route to the Castle, we saw crowds of people at the counter, sipping coffee and eyeing up the colourful counter of tasty treats. It would have been rude not to stop for an espresso and soft, bready bun squeezed full of gooey pistachio cream and coated in icing sugar. Calories don’t count if you eat standing up do they?

Arrivederci Milan — I think love you, even if I barely scratched the surface of what you have to offer. I’ll be back as soon as I can.  

November 14, 2018 21:37

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