This might seem like a bit of an odd post today.
I know that when I write about Milan, I'm already writing for a relatively narrow group of people. Cities like London, New York and Rome are much more popular as expat living and travel destinations. Sometimes I wonder how useful my restaurant posts are - how many people visiting Milan actually read them?
In that respect, this post might seem even less useful as it is about a little restaurant in Cusano. If you travel to Milan, you're fairly unlikely to visit Cusano. It's a small town in the hinterland of Milan, somewhere for families and retired people to live peacefully with the city still in easy reach.
One of Michele's friends lives there and invited us out to try a new restaurant (the name of which escapes me - Trasi all'Osteria was written on the menus, there was a sign up saying Retro Osteria and there were business cards for Armonie di Gusto - which one is it?!?!) for dinner back in June.
And I fell in love with it so completely and utterly that I knew I would have to post about it even if only for my own sake! Please excuse the iPhone photos but I was underprepared..
But what was so good about it? What does this little restaurant have that makes me want to jump on a train out of the city centre and into the middle of nowhere?
1. Pretty plates
This might seem silly but plates are very important. If the food is the artwork, the plate is the frame. There are lots of food scientists out there writing papers and conducting experiments showing that the environment is very important in terms of its influence on taste. I know that if I go to a restaurant and the food arrives on pretty hand-painted plates, it contributes to the entire atmosphere. A well-laid table enhances the experience. Perhaps I'm turning into my mother already?
2. Good wine
This is the same wine we had at our celebration lunch at Alice, Eataly. It's divine. Enough said.
3. Good food
Ah, the most important one. The menu didn't seem to stick to one particular Italian region but drew upon many different ones. I was incredibly tempted by the stracciatella (the creamy innards of burrata, if you didn't see my Puglia posts) but had already set my hearts on a cheesy pasta so was persuaded to have the sarde in saor which is sardines and onions and raisins in a vinegary sauce. Yeah ok it doesn't sound great but it's a really delicious dish and this one didn't disappoint.
The guys shared a mixed platter. Michele thinks it was too varied but I think that's impossible - why would you ever complain about having so many different kinds of food?!
And then the pasta.
Readers, I fell in love with this pasta. Mine (below) was homemade ravioli stuffed with aubergines and ricotta. I genuinely had an affair with this beautiful, beautiful meal. It was just so good.
4. A lovely setting
The tables outside are adjacent to a communal residential courtyard. It could be a really plain place to eat but they've decorated it well with simple touches - candles, plants, bunting and retro signs all bring the courtyard to life. As the sun went down, the glow of the candles took over, making it feel really cosy.
5. Homemade tiramisu
I'm obsessed with trying every homemade tiramisu I can get my hands on. Some are more set and structured, others are thick and creamy, others are sloppy and messy. Some taste like coffee, others let the alcohol shine through (marsala wine is my choice when making it!) and others are chocolatey heaven. I love them all.
So this may have been a futile post. Perhaps nobody visiting this blog will ever go to this little restaurant. But I just had to blog about it because for me, it was perfect. I will definitely be going back!