Archive for June, 2010

This weekend I made it to the Earth Market I mentioned a few posts ago. We got there a bit on the late side (around 12:30 p.m. and it closes at 2 p.m.) so the pickings on some things were starting to get a bit slim, but we did get a chance to sample various products, such as artisanal beer, sorbet and gelato. There was a long line at one of the bread stands and by the time we made our way around the market and came back, all of the bread was sold out, which was a pity. Everything at the market is produced within 40 km of the city, and I liked how each of the stands had a sign listing the origin and distance from the city. But I do have to say that not everything that is organic, artisanal or “slow” is necessarily more delicious. As my husband commented upon tasting one “all-natural” product sample, “Maybe I prefer the one with chemicals that is bad for you.” Because the market was winding down by the time we got there, we ended up eating lunch in a nearby Egyptian pizzeria (yes, Egyptians are famous in Milan for their pizza-making skills) where I had the worst bowl of pasta I’ve ever had in ten years of living in Italy. I guess I should have ordered pizza, but usually I prefer pizza that’s been made in Naples (or within 40 km)…

In the park where the market was held, there were two different areas with stands. This was the first of them.

Stands with Art Nouveau building in the background

There were also picnic tables where you could sit and eat your purchases or listen to various Slow Food lectures

I found this advertisement for McDonald's at the entrance to the park where the Slow Food market was held to be a bit odd


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How are y’all enjoying this wacky summer weather? Is it wacky where you are? Here it is chilly and rainy – shades of November – and has been like this much of the last week. One thing that pulled me out of my weather funk was an email I received from a Canadian friend from Vancouver. She spent the better part of a decade in Milan and returned to Canada a year ago. She said she is still having moments of “reverse culture shock” and has been unable to adjust to the lack of chaos and the general sense of order in Vancouver. Here are a couple of shots she took to show me what she means.

This is a shot from Vancouver of a line forming for the bus. A bus that is not even there yet. Notice that even the funky hipster with requisite messenger bag (second to last in line) is not rebelling

Another shot from Vancouver. The line on the right is not quite as orderly as the one on the left, but keep in mind the bus isn't even there...

And here is our "study in contrasts" shot. This is what the line (if you can call it that) in front of me looked like at the post office on Friday here in Milan.

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A few months ago, I bought some organic milk at the supermarket and only noticed when I got home that it had the tag line “milked right in your neighborhood!” I had to laugh out loud. It was a laughter filled with irony and sadness because at that time there had been a huge oil spill in the river that runs through my town. I know cows don’t swim in the river. It wasn’t the same as buying trout and hearing that it had been caught “right in your neighborhood!” But still the idea of a cow grazing on the banks of a polluted river on the sprawling outskirts of the city was both sad and absurd.

I really like the idea of being a “locavore” or of living all “kilometer zero,” but can you really do that when you live in a city that is, uh, more than a tad polluted? I really don’t know the answer to that question, but I will continue to ponder it. Thanks to Judy’s blog, I read about the big Earth Market in Bologna sponsored by the Slow Food movement. I did some research and found out that, wow, we have one here in Milan as well. I’m going to go to the next one, which is on Saturday, June 19. Apparently, all of the farmers and vendors are local, and you can taste their products and even have lunch in the park where the market is held. It sounds great. You can get more info here.

Below is a video I found with some images of the Earth Market in Milan.

Then I just found out about the first ever Milano Food Week being held this week. There are tons of cool food and wine events going on, and tonight there’s going to be an “American street food tasting” in some old warehouse turned food lab while a graffiti artist does his thing with the spray cans. Could be a weird pairing (like drinking a cappuccino after – or God forbid, with – your pizza) or could be kind of cool! All of the events end this Sunday, and I wish I had found out about it sooner or I definitely would have made a point of tasting Barbera wines on a tram or taking a gastronomic tour of the city’s various ethnic neighborhoods. But, for all my talk of eating well, I’ll probably be stuffing my face with pizza and potato chips and drinking beer this weekend as I watch a few of the World Cup games.

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Spaghetti al limone

Photo by {tribal} photography

This is a simple summer recipe that is much tastier than you’d expect. I’ve seen many variations on spaghetti with “lemon sauce” that range from merely squeezing a bit of fresh lemon juice into a bowl and mixing with with olive oil and salty pasta water to others that add ricotta or heavy cream. I have two tips: 1) don’t overdo it with the lemon. A little bit seems to go a long way, and you can always add more if you feel the lemony taste is lacking. But if you use too much to begin with, the lemon will overpower the whole thing. 2) use whole wheat spaghetti. I find that whole wheat spaghetti doesn’t taste all that different from “regular” spaghetti while other types of pasta, such as penne, really do have a different taste that may not be pleasing to all. I happen to like whole wheat pastas, but I know not everyone does.

I’m using Italian portion sizes since the pasta would only be a first course. You may need to up the doses a bit if you like an abundant bowl of pasta.

Spaghetti al limone

Recipe for 4

320 grams (about 10 ounces or so) of spaghetti

1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest chopped into tiny pieces

1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice

2 cloves of garlic

3-4 tablespoons of olive oil

parsley, parmesan and salt to taste

optional – a dollop of ricotta cheese or heavy cream mixed in at the last minute; if you are using the ricotta, thin it out in the sauce with a bit of pasta water

While the spaghetti is cooking in salted water (they say to add around 10 grams of sea salt per liter of water; remember – only after the water starts to boil!), saute the garlic cloves in a small pan over low heat for a couple of minutes in one tablespoon of the olive oil. After a couple of minutes, add in the lemon zest until it is all softened. Take off heat, and when it has cooled a bit, add in the lemon juice and the rest of the olive oil. You can add in a bit of the salted pasta water to amalgamate and make it “saucier.” I usually toss out the whole garlic cloves at this point. After you’ve strained the pasta, toss with the lemon sauce. Add more oil if necessary (or the ricotta or heavy cream if you are using them). At this point, add salt, parmesan and chopped parsley to taste. Enjoy!

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