So I am in Milan and having mastered the art of people watching, admiring the high-end fashionistas and absorbing the views of the beautiful architecture on display (see my prior post here), I head-out for dinner at a restaurant overlooking the beautiful Duomo.
When I walk in the friendly staff show me to my table and I take a moment before being seated to admire the beautiful view of the Duomo just outside the window next to me. It is simply stunning!
For the wine to kick-off proceedings, I opt for their house Chianti (Palme 2012), which has lovely rich full fruit flavours of cherries and a wonderful tannin structure and acidity to balance the fruit intensity. The wine offers a plush “I’m so into you” mouthfeel into the finish. It’s the perfect platform to gaze longingly at the stunning view from the table.
For the entree, I can’t go past a Milanese special, the Saffron Risotto with Smoked Bone Marrow.
The rich, sticky, smokiness of the bone marrow parlays itself with a touch of extravagance, while the smooth gentle herb/hay like notes of the saffron with a gentle “holdback” bite in the aftertaste mingles with the creaminess of the risotto to create the perfect entrée. The bright orange glow of the saffron adds to the tantalising nature of this dish from an aesthetics perspective. A lovely introduction to the evening.
For main course, some fresh seafood is in order, so I opt for the Grilled Calamari with Snow Peas, Olives and Tomatoes.
This is a dish where the calamari just shines with its distinct natural flavours and the lighter ingredients which surround it provide lovely shades of colours (notably the redness of the tomato and shine of the green snow pea) and lovely texture (crunchiness of snow peas are a treat, while the juiciness of the ripe tomatoes just leave you hanging for more). Eventually the rich tang of the olives come in to add a lovely sign-off for a dish where the star is the calamari.
For the dessert, I opt for the Chocolate Tart. To describe this experience as anything other than an emotional, soul-engaging moment would not be describing it adequately. The richness of the cocoa dusting is treat which leads to that annoying but fun exercise (where you try to extend your tongue into the roof of your mouth to mop-up all the cocoa dust residue). The rich creaminess of the tart filling provides an overwhelming heady rush to the head which leaves you pinning for more mouthfuls of this stunning dessert. Then comes the point which causes that little “I so wasn’t expecting that” moment. I dig through the base of the tart with my spoon and shovel the buscuity crumbly mixture into my mouth expecting even further pure rich sweetness. However the base has the chocolate base is mixed with rich mineral salt and some spice to provide salty/bitter overlay a bit like a ying/yang style flavour. It is such a sensuous and enriching experience that provides some balance the pure richness and sugar flow of the rest of the tart. I feel almost emotionally exhausted – it was the highlight of the dinner (and I don’t normally say that about my desserts).
Wine to Finish
I sign-off with a glass of the Borgo Isolabella 2008 Barbera d’Asti “Maria Teresa”. The wine has beautiful rich blackfruit aromas to introduce itself with a flow through on the palate which is dry and savoury while the fruit intensity lightens to make it a very easy relaxing wine to finish the night. The view continues to captivate me as I leave the restaurant.