Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Last stop - Milan, with a great cocktail on the side

I have no idea what to say about Milan. I had a great time there, which surprised me since I had two coworkers tell me they hated the city. The weather was beautiful, which certainly helped. And so was the architecture - here's the main cathedral, right around the corner from where we were staying:

We only had an afternoon and evening in Milan, so we made the most of it by walking everywhere. The window-shopping was fantastic, if you like to admire pants that cost 1000 euros. The people-watching was also an over-the-top experience, particularly on a Friday afternoon at peak aperitivo hour. The Milanese are fashionable to begin with, but where else would you find a very tanned young Italian gentleman wearing a one-piece denim jumpsuit with the buttons opened so low I got an eyeful of a hairless chest?

For a city that doesn't have great food (according to Joe Bastianich), we had some perfectly pleasant food experiences. We found this gelato place around the corner from the duomo, which made for excellent pre-drinks appetizers:
We then ended up having drinks at the Marc by Marc Jacobs bar attached to the retail store. Included with your drinks is a complementary buffet, whcih was an assortment of cicchetti, the Italian equivalent of tapas. It was so civilized to be sipping Italian cocktails while snacking on perfect little bites and watching the fashionable set gather for drinks. We had dinner at a delightfully quaint vegetarian restaurant called Zucca e Melone, which was reviewed in a NY Times article just before we arrived. The next morning, the husband ended up having lemon sorbet from Venchi, a major Italian chocolatier, for his breakfast before he caught his train to Zurich to head home. I had the morning to myself in Milan and went back to the gelato place for lunch. I also came across what has to be the nicest McDonald's I've ever seen, though I didn't eat there:

But by far the best thing by far that we took away from Milan was a new cocktail. When we were at the Marc by Marc Jacobs bar, the husband asked for a typical Milanese cocktail and was served a spritz, a bright orange liquid in a big wine glass complete with a slice of orange bobbing with the ice in the drink. It was light, slightly fruity, and all around refreshing. When we asked the bartender for the ingredients, we learned it consisted of Aperol, prosecco and club soda. We had never heard of Aperol, but a quick Google search informed us that it is related to Campari but is less alcoholic and less bitter, made from bitter orange and rhubarb. The husband is a rhubarb fiend, which partly explains why he liked the drink so much. When we got home, I found Aperol in the first liquor store I tried. Prosecco is easy to come by, so it was surprisingly simple to put together this lovely drink. Such a relief to be able to drink like Italians while back in the US, though I have yet to find someone who's willing to wear the one-piece denim jumper for me...
An Italian Spritz

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