Milan, day 1
We touched down in Milan this morning at about 10. A dark wooly blanket of clouds hung over the city as we bumbled in a bus through a storm to our hotel, about a 15 minute amble from the Duomo.
Despite 12 hours of travel and the city’s soggy embrace, our stomachs growled and lunch beckoned. We were not to be deterred. On went the rubber shoes and out we marched, heads held high and umbrellas brandished.
A 2.5 mile walk past a medieval castle and through various and sundry scraggly neighborhoods later, we arrived at our first feast on Italian soil, at a tucked away place called Pupurry. My, how well we ate.
To start, the antipasto plate. Craggy rounds of fresh mozzarella. Olive oil. The water balloon of the dairy world: burrata; a sheer skin of cheese swaddling a swollen cream center that burst when prodded. Fried squash blossoms, so light and bright and vegetal. Salami spotted with fat and tinged with anise. (yes, I had a slice. so sue me).
Honestly, this was enough food. But we didn’t know that when we placed our orders, so out came the main dishes. Mine: red wine risotto. Smoky, lush, pungent, powerful. In fact, one of my dining companions decreed it “manly”. If Sean Connery was someday reincarnated as a dish, well, I’ve found his calling.
We pleaded full bellies but somehow still found ourselves staring down a petite plate of cookies. Our waiter returned, a sneaky glint in his eyes. “Do you trust me?” he asked, and without waiting for an answer plunked down three icy shot glasses and an unlabeled, obviously homemade bottle of liqeuer.
Limoncello, from his home town. Sweet bracing puckery perfection.
Italy, I love you already.