Milan, Italy

February 2008

Occasionally I get sucked into trying a high end restaurant in another country especially when one of the editors at Food and Wine or Gourmet has written about it.  The chef at Cracco Peck had been making a big splash in the press and I thought it would be the perfect “last meal” after a week in Italy.

Located on the bottom level of what looked like an office building, the space was modern and sophisticated.  The menu was also entirely in Italian and not the simple menu-friendly Italian I could handle.  Since I hate walking into any restaurant in Europe where they immediately hand you a menu translated into something that resembles English if they hear you speaking something other than their native tongue, I thought we could wing it. We couldn’t.  Luckily the wait staff was gracious enough to help us translate some of the menu offerings.

Dinner that night started with a variety of amuse bouche:  mini meringues filled with foie gras, fried anchovy balls, root vegetable chips, and mackerel with porcini mushrooms.

Then came a small serving of fennel soup with dried tuna flakes and a few drops of basil oil.

As a first course, Rachel had the pumpkin ravioli with Swiss chard.  Lynn and I had what tasted like pierogi (potato ravioli?) with thin slices of fried salami.  For entrees, I had a sea bream; Lynn and Rachel had the veal Milanese – but cut into cubes.  (Ironically, on the same trip we had eaten a similar dish at L’Albereta, a signature dish, in fact of Chef Marchesi.)

Dessert was lemon pudding and an apple plate — mini pastries filled with apples.  Rachel ordered mini chocolate cannolis.   When the waiter put the dish in front of her, he poured a bottle of dark beer on top.  I thought she would freak.  She didn’t; she ate the whole dish but not before I managed to get a taste.  The dish actually worked.

Bottom line: food was sometimes too strange to be taken seriously even for Italian “nuova cuicina.”  Prices were also astronomical.

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