Any serious Food Adventure to Italy must include Bologna in Emilia-
Milan is the capital of the north with a population of 1.3 million, and best known as a great fashion centre. Indeed the locals do look very smart (once you get through the usual oddbods living at the Stazione Centrale -
Milan is also famous for its Duamo (cathedral) and two soccer clubs AC Milan and Inter Milan. The Duamo is an amazing piece of architecture and construction, complete with 135 spires and lots and lots of marble-
But the real must do activity is a visit to Pecks food emporium. Where to start? To call it an upmarket deli would not do it justice. It has been operating since 1883, and features a retail shop front as well as wine store and restaurant. And there’s a commercial kitchen out back where prepared foods are made for takeaway dinners.
The pasta window display sets the scene. Upon entry is the fresh pasta section, where beautiful looking tortellini, gnocchi and ravioli are scooped into bags according to demand, then a delicatessen front over 15 metres long. This section had the full range of cured meats (including very expensive Spanish prosciutto) and cheeses from both Italy and France. But there was also caviar tartlettes, lobster, snails, muscles, premium beef for steak tartare, seafood salads, marinated vegetables …..the list goes on.
Another counter of similar size has prepared dinners on offer -
Shelves loaded with immaculate looking fresh fruit and vegetables were in the centre, along with stands of jars of Peck’s brand pesto, olive tapenade, truffle paste. I i was interested to see large and small jars of porcini mushrooms in olive oil for approx $A270/kg.
I had a chat to the butchers in the meat section – they were excited to meet an Australian producer. They sourced their lamb from either New Zealand or England, but their beef was Italian. Their T-
In line with the philosophy of using the whole of body, there were plenty of pigs’ trotters for sale next to pig’s heads halved and their stomach linings (I think).
Moving onto something sweeter , there was a magnificent display of chocolates to be purchased individually or in bulk, and hand crafted small cakes and macarons showing superb patisserie skill. And there was the coffee bean and tea leaf section. I could go on……
No experience here could be complete without checking out the wine cave underground. I didn’t know much about the Italian wines on display, but here for sale, were magnums and double magnums from some of the Grand Crus chateaux I’d just seen in Bordeaux – Margaux, Latour , Lafite-
So what was on the dinner menu? I thought risotto had to be top of the list so had two over two nights. The first with porchini mushrooms in a rather smart restaurant, which I must say was rather underwhelming. I haven’t used these mushrooms at home – they normally come packaged in a dehydrated form which needs soaking prior to cooking. Indeed the headwaiter recommended no parmesan so as to fully enjoy the flavours, but I didn’t get any richness or earthiness that I expected. "Mi scusi…….parmesan??? ……..grazie"
More success on the second night. I feasted on a creamy and delicious risotto with gorgonzola and pear, which had been thoroughly incorporated into the risotto. The rice grains were much softer than the slightly crunchy ones from the previous night. A great experience to try to recreate at home.