Wednesday, October 10, 2012

One Of Many Simple Reasons Why I Love Italy

  Normally I am not a big city guy. Don't get me wrong, I do love the energy of big cities like New York, London and the likes.  However, the fast and furious pace is not really my style.  Italy has held a strong position in my heart for as long as I can remember.  The simple elegance of its food and the laid back method in which they celebrate the day is how I try to approach life.  With this in mind, Milan and I have never had a serious love affair.  Anytime I am in Italy I cherish it. However, there are places I would rather be than Milan.  With business and fashion being major players in the personality of Milan, the slow simple charm of the country itself takes a back seat.  My most recent trip to Milan was a game changer for me as I had the opportunity to see Milan in a different light.  As usual, it was an arrival straight from the U.S. and our itinerary included a landing at 9am and a departure the next morning.  After putting the airplane to bed and a quick breeze through customs, we arrived at the Hilton Milan at 11am.  Very ready for some food and much needed sleep we rallied in the lobby right away and began the search for lunch.  The front desk staff quickly guided us just across the street to a wonderful place as the lobby bar was not open for food yet.  A sign reading Trattoria Toscana Il Cerchio was what I was to look for.

Even though the sign above the door clearly states the name, I walked past it 3 times.  In fact, I returned to the hotel to get redirected as the graffiti and bland buildings looked the same for miles in both directions.  With the insisting of the hotel concierge I reluctantly walked in.  We were the only guests in the entire place and the wait and kitchen staff could not care less that we were standing in the doorway.  After a few minutes of feeling like a complete fool, a quick gesture came from the chef pointing to a table.  Sitting down and getting completely ignored gave me the chance to slow down and watch the real story unfold.  It wasn't quite race time and the pit crew was giving final touches to the race car.  The staff was in one constant fluid motion working in silent harmony to put the final touches on the dinning room and kitchen for the lunch rush.  Five minutes to noon all the motion stopped, a tiny wooden door to the kitchen opened and out came the chef and his sous chef.  They brought with them a bottle of unlabeled Grappa.  The rest of the staff joined them in a quick toast of espressos mixed with grappa and it was on.  A well oiled and finely tuned show ensued.  Pasta orders came fast and furiously each cooked to order and flowed quickly through the tiny pass.

Beautiful, thick cuts of Prosciutto were cut by hand and served in generous portions.

 Pasta Fagioli, one of my favorite Italian comfort foods was drizzled with beautiful local Olive Oil.

The chef, I never got name, invited me very briefly into his work place. It was an,, inferno of flying freshly sauced pasta and giant stockpots full of boiling pasta water.

A most amazing pizza followed my brief kitchen visit topped with house cured Salumi and a free range localy grown fresh egg, perfection!

Once again, its a reminder to slow down a minute and really take a look at the surroundings you are confronted with.  You may see something you never thought possible, a diamond in the rough perhaps.  The chef and a woman, introduced to me only as "Mi Amore", bid us farewell with a nip of that secret grappa with our afternoon espresso.  Oh, and yes, I returned for dinner and will again!


  1. I love Milan, will actually go there next week myself and will surely have a look if this restaurant can be on the agenda. Food looks lovely!!

  2. Thanks for reading, you will certainly enjoy the food!