Monday, 29 December 2008

Natale/ Noël in Milan/ Paris

Notes, lists & impressions
I am writing these notes on the Paris train to Milan, sitting comfortably in my seat while the scenery outside the window is rapidly changing from French to Swiss, than to an Italian landscape. Arriving in Paris was not as easy as leaving her and surviving the night train proved to be quite a challenge, but than the sun came up, night was over, and I was in Paris, much like a ten hour food poisoning.
Milan was cold. Though by Paris measures, it was a heat wave. I was on a mission, and finding a coat was it. I had made my mind up, and I was not leaving until mission completed. I think I tried all the coats in Milan. That’s plenty. And it took a good few hours.
This is when obsessive characteristics and a high pain threshold prove an advantage.
Clearly not for everyone.
I have a new coat.
Freebies part I- Milan
Its almost Natale.
I am in Milan.
This can only mean one thing.
During a stroll along the Piazza Duomo a poster catches my eye. An exhibition celebrating a new logo ensuring high quality Panettone.
Coincidently, I am in the right place at the right time.
Bite size Panettone are baked by an artisan baker and hot beverages are prepared to accompany these small bundle of delight.
I have replaced butter glazed pasta, creamy risotto and pork, with freshly baked baguettes, fluffy croissants (filled with almond paste and chocolate, than sat on by a French artisan baker) and Foie Gras.
Left unattended I had, on several occasions, constructed an eating experience with pastry as the foundation, sugar as the core structure and ice cream (or more pastry in some cases…) for that sweet taste rounding it all up to create a unified expression of joy & happiness.
Luckily, there are sweet potatoes and cucumbers in the market, and I was determined to satisfy my craving for a healthy, natural, butter-less meal. Its been a while since me and extra virgin olive oil interacted, and it was an overdue rendezvous. At any given opportunity, and in a carefully orchestrated manner, I seized control of kitchens everywhere, spending some quality time chopping, boiling, seasoning, roasting & stirring, putting together mouth watering technicolor displays. Seeing them, there was a comfortable familiarity, similar to a visit from a close friend that has come from afar.
I had oysters for the first time. The bottom of the sea had appeared on the table, several types of oysters, langoustines, prawns and sea snails lay on the feathery nest of ice chips.
I kept it all down.
I can't wait for the next round.Freebies part II- Paris

One of the first visits I make in Paris is to La Duree, macaroon heaven. I have clear instructions regarding the caramel macaroon. It is two days before Noël, and the que to these macaroons stretches out and spills onto the street. I decide to skip the experience, and as I continue walking I reach another entrance. This time I walk in, only to find a joyful display of macaroons and gift boxes in all shapes and colours. I ask for the caramel macaroon. I am full of conviction and there is no hesitation in my voice. The salesman says something in French, and I nod as if to say 'I understood what you just said'. A minute later the vendeuse won't accept my pay.I have just been given a macaroon for free. This is not common in La Duree. I find this out from registering the expressions on Parisiens' faces when I tell them of this. I love Paris.

Toasted almonds (a Haiku)
Pastry* with almonds
Chicken salad with almonds
Ice cream with almonds

*- profiteroles, croissants, Panettone.

Paris Culinary research, Xmas 08 (click on the link):
Patrick Roger, Sadaharu Aoki, LaDuree, Piere Herme, Amorino, GROM, Jean Paul Hevin, Marcolini, Arnaud Lahrer, Le Grand Epicerie, Gallery Lafayette Gourmet, Rose Bakery, EXKI.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Naomi,

    Heard about your blog from my mother, it sure brings some memories back from Milan.
    I hope you are enjoying your experience in Italy, your blog brings to life many senses. I made the mistake (which I was told not to) and looked at your blog hungry, got to get something to eat now and there are no award winning pastries around my office…

    Happy new year
    Tali Azmon (Daniella’s daughter).