Sometimes it's the small things about different cities that really get you. Take Milan, for example. So impossible was it to find a shop that sells bottle openers, we find ourselves sitting in the hotel room, trying to open a rare bottle of dessert wine from Florence with a set of house keys.
It works. It tastes good.
Some say that Marco Polo stole noodles from the Chinese for the Italians. But that's totally untrue, because he actually stole prawn crackers.
Just like at Cracco last night, a bowl of vegetable and fish “prawn crackers” are placed on the table. They taste pretty much the same.
I'm at 2-star Trussardi alla Scala, sitting in probably the most comfortable chair of all time, eating prawn crackers, about to begin my first solo meal of the trip. Solo meals are always interesting because you become a lot more aware of everything that's happening around you and, more importantly, on the plate. Companionship can be ever so distracting.
I didn't do much research into this restaurant before booking. The menu looked nice and it seemed to have a pretty good reputation. One thing I realised I should have checked is what sort of food it actually serves up. Was the bowl of prawn crackers trying to tell me something? Was I in for another molecular experience tonight?
No, not really. Trussardi all Scala just does kick-arse food.
I think I realised it with the risotto with raw prawn. What a bloody great dish. A totally perfect risotto conceals slices of raw prawn. On top, a little sprinkling of sweet paprika (I think, or maybe sumac). Sounds plain—looks kind of plain—but each mouthful is utter heaven. Great texture, even greater flavour.
There were hints of them trying tricky things with the food—like the “fruit vegetables” or whatever they were (pickled fruit my the looks/tastes of it) with the tenderest of squid—but my favourite parts of the meal were when things stayed relatively simple. The spring lamb was one of those parts. A perfect chunk of lamb with perfectly fried potatoes and pieces of onion. It reminded me of a similar dish at il Convivio, and why that dish didn't work. Trussardi alla Scala got it spot on.
Dessert was an interesting affair. A globe/bubble of spun sugar sat over a pineapple parfait or something similar. Crack the dome and it releases a strong smell of smoke. Not bad at all. I like magic (I don't).
All up an impressive meal. It wasn't consistently strong as Cracco or Marque, but no dishes were weak and it definitely had its moments. What it was better for was the dining room (beautiful) and the more “Milanese” feel of the place (the dining room at Cracco didn't have many Italians). It was an excellent representation of this cosmopolitan city.
Michelin star count: 5