Tuesday, November 25, 2014

When Food Meets Fashion in Milan

La Rinascente, the upscale department store next to Milan's Piazza Duomo, was running a marketing campaign of "When Food Meets Fashion" at the time of our visit, with live cooking demonstration and tasting booths set up amongst racks of latest fashion, and free-flowing champagne served while customers having a menicure at the cosmetic desks; even the store front window - made famous as the now legendary Giorgio Armani who once worked as a window-dresser here - was lined with giant Moet & Chandon bottles as part of the campaign.

Mixing glamour with flavor was hardly a new nor unique concept I suppose, but nowhere does it better than Milan, unarguably the world capital of fashion, and to a lesser extent, a destination for food lovers. (don't forget there's a famous dish named after Milan, and even the city's most famous wall painting involved a certain supper meal)

And turned out in our quick 36 hours in Milan, we went up close and personal with our own experience of "Food meets Fashion" beyond walking through the floors at La Rinascente.

Cafe Trussardi


Quite a few designer boutiques in Milan have their own in-house dining establishments these days, perhaps none more well-known than Nobu Milano, being one of the first of its kinds, located in the Armani megastore on Via Manzoni. But if you are more serious about food than fashion, Ristorante Trussardi, next to Piazza della Scala and inside the Trussardi flagship store, is the one to go. After all it's the one of a few restaurants in town recognized with a Michelin star.

Initially I was tempted to give it a try, but not wanting to sit through a multi-course fine-dining meal after a long-haul flight, we opted for the more casual Cafe Trussardi under the same roof, which turned out to be just as lovely.

The cafe is on the ground level facing the side street next to the piazza. At the entrance was a full-size bar and high tables for people wanting a quick bite, and on the side was a glasshouse with a few sit-in tables and a garden-themed decor. 

Considered this is a casual cafe, they do serve a pretty wide menu - from light appetizers or sandwiches to pasta to more substantial main dishes. We ordered a simple sandwich and pasta and both were delicious. The dessert of pear tart with chocolate sauce and sprinkles of toasted hazelnuts was to die for.

Its proximity to Duomo and its central yet quiet location made it a perfect spot to hide away from the crowd and away from tourist-centric places - especially if a simple meal is what you are looking for. Plus they open all day long and serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Cafe Trussardi - Piazza della Scala 5, Milano
Web: www.cafetrussardi.it

Il Bar at Bulgari Hotels & Resorts

It's no surprise that the best hotel in the fashion capital also belongs to a luxury brand. After failing to score anything walking in and out of shops on Via Montenapoleone and Via della Spiga, we felt like we needed our own type of therapy - a place to chill over an early aperitif before dinner time. So we headed over to the posh Bulgari Hotel in a quiet section not far away from the luxury shopping district.

The bar was located one level down from the lobby, in a brightly-lit room (during the day) with trendy decor with floor-to-ceiling glass wall opening up to the private garden outside. It was still warm when we arrived so we took a seat outside.

One of their signature drinks was their namesake cocktail, with a mix of gin, aperol, orange, pineapple and lime juices served on a martini glass. The tab, as you could imagine, didn't come cheap, but if retail therapy is not your thing, this is definitely not a shabby spot to sit back, enjoy a quiet moment and just let time slips by.

Il Bar at Bulgari Hotels and Resort Milan - Via Privata Fratelli Gabba 7/b, Milano
Web: www.bulgarihotels.com/en-us/milan/bar-and-restaurant/il-bar

10 Corso Como

It's hard to describe what "10 Corso Como" is about - it's like a mix of eccentric fashion, design, food, arts and culture things all mashed under one roof. At the cafe downstairs, the settings might look casual - I felt like eating in a garden with trees and flowers and birds, but they are serious about the food they served.

Along with a hipster collection at the store next door and hipster decor throughout the complex was a hipster seasonal food menu - there's a long list of fruit and vegetable juices, quinoa, gluten-free pasta... I think you got the idea. Even their bread basket came with a small plate of raw vegetables!

Well, they do have some "normal" stuff and they were nicely done too. The seafood salad was a sumptuous display of shrimp, squids and scallops, well-seasoned and served warm and my pasta course was garganelli with a spicy arrabiata sauce and plenty of shredded burrata cheese on top.

I reckon Corso Como is a area worth visiting, whether you consider yourself a fashionista or not. Oh, did I mention Eataly Milano mega-supermarket was just right around the corner?

10 Corso Como - Corso Como 10, Milano (duh...)
Web: www.10corsocomo.com/visit/?pageID=cafe&lang=eng

(This is the part of the Journey to Piedmont series, a writing project capturing our recent travel experiences to the region)

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