Saturday, 19 July 2014

The best gelateria in Milan is?

A promising sign. Freshly depleted tubs of gelato not neat fluffy domes.
Yesterday, I received a tip from my friend Nicoletta, one of the personal trainers at our local palestra - the local gym, but the Italian word sounds much more elegant.
Like me, Nicoletta is a gelato expert, so she couldn't wait to share her most recent discovery. 
"Last week I had the best gelato I've ever tasted in Milan. You've got to go there.  Gelateria della musica. The salted pistachio was the most delicious flavour I've ever tasted!" 

That was all the information I needed.  
Less than 24 hours later my friend Janka, another gelato connoisseur, and I, were determinedly trudging along the melting pavements of the Navigli district.  Yes, in summer Milan gets so hot that the asphalt footpaths get tacky, proving treacherous for those wearing stilettos and unpleasantly sticky for those wearing sandals with thin soles.  But Janka and I were well equipped with appropriate footwear for our expedition to this famous gelateria located on a treeless, ordinary suburban street just across from the Grande Canal.
The line outside the tiny shop front was a very good sign.  We didn't need to queue for long as there's an efficient purchasing system.  Once inside you pay for your gelato specifying the size of cone and how many scoops.  I'm a dedicated "un cono, due gusti con un cucchiaino" gelato eater.  
After paying 2.30Euro, a very reasonable price, I took my ticket to the gelato fridges and waited for my number to be called, just like purchasing something from the deli section in a Sydney supermarket. 
 Did I mention that inside this tiny shop it was packed?
The large whiteboard by the cash register shows the long list of unusual gelato flavours that have made this little gelateria so popular.  Many have musical nicknames like Lady Gaga, a sweet cheesecake confection.  
  I followed Nicoletta's advice for my due gusti - pistacchio con sale e fragola. 
There are only three stools inside and no seats outside, so we were fortunate to arrive just in time to grab two spots right beside one of the newest generation of gelato connoisseurs.  
You can tell this little poppet is a discerning gelato eater.  She's graduated from a coppa and is wielding her cucchiaino with skill, keeping her white pants pristine while savouring every mouthful. 

Taste test summary
Salted pistacchio lived up to Nicoletta's recommendation.  It was a deep green colour and the flavour was intensely nutty with that distinctive creamy pistacchio taste.  Janka concurred.  My strawberry gelato was delicious, but not outstanding. Janka really enjoyed her watermelon scoop which I also tasted.  An authentic flavour, just like biting into a sweet, ripe watermelon.  

Gelati rating *****
Fantastically intense flavours.  Made fresh daily.  Can't wait to return to try some of the other inventive combinations, like lemon and basil which was recommended by the "poppet's" mother.  Perfect for a hot summer afternoon pick-me-up.

Try it here
Via Giovanni Enrico Pestalozzi, 4, 20143

And the winner is...
So after a year of eating gelato, not just once a week as I'd originally intended, but whenever we have visitors, or when the weather is really hot, or when I need a quick jolt of something sweet, or when I remind myself that I won't be able to do this when we go home, or....(insert any excuse you can think of) I am prepared to name the best gelateria in Milan...DRUMROLL......

The best gelateria in Milan is STILL

MAG Mastri Artigiani del Gelato
Corner of Corso Genova & Via Gaudenzio Ferrari
You just can't beat their croccante!
MAG not only offers delicious gelato but it is a lovely space.  Lots of benches inside and out making it the perfect spot to relax and enjoy the passing parade of Milanese stopping by to grab their gelato fix.  No arguments from our visitors!
So that's my verdict after a year of gelato tasting. 
But Janka's already suggesting a new nomination.  Looks like this could be an annual competition!
If you have other nominations do leave a comment below.

Ci vediamo prossima e buon appetito!

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Has it really been a year?

Anniversary celebration at Cherie's.  Delicious!
Hard to believe but on the 27th June last year, we left Sydney to begin our Milan Transfer. So this seems like a good time to reflect on the surprising discoveries we have made during our unexpected Italian adventure.
Stefano, Cherie and me arriving in Milan.
Discovery number 1 - Living in Milan is EASY (well mostly).
We've completely surprised ourselves by discovering that city apartment living suits us.  Have we missed our lovely garden and house in Sydney? Yes.
Our local bar/cafe is 1 minute across the road.
Our local supermarket PAM is 2 minutes walk.
Our favourite pizzeria is less than 5 minutes walk.
Stefano's office is less than 10 minutes walk.
And the second best gelateria in Milan is less than a block's walk. Dangerously close!
Our city view
Bar Foppa from our balcony.
Discovery number 2 - the locals are FRIENDLY.
Whether it's been Elisabetta our land lady, or the gorgeous Francesca in Bar Foppa, or Stefano's colleagues, or out Italian teachers Laura and Cristina, or Mina our charmingly elegant neighbour... (the list goes on) we've found that the Milanese have been welcoming, kind and friendly. We quickly discovered that their reputation as 'stand offish' was completely unjustified.
With Mina waiting to visit an exhibition in the centre of Milan.
Discovery number 3 - Public transport in Milan is FANTASTIC.
For the past year we've hardly needed a car.  Our closest bus stop is 2 minutes walk away and rarely do we have to wait for more than 5 minutes.  The number 14 tram takes less than 20 minutes into the centre of town and the tram stop is just down the road.  Even the free city bikes are looking more tempting, now that we've found more bike lanes around our neighbourhood.
Have we missed our own car? Not at all. 
The trusty number 14 tram. A slow, but steady ride home for Beth and Jen with bags of Milanese bargains.
Discovery number 4 - Milan is full of HIDDEN surprises. 
During our first year we've learned that Milan's beauty is more than 'skin deep'.  Every week we seem to make more discoveries, like this tiny church, Basilica San Maurizio on Corso Magenta where our neighbour Mina was married during the late 1950s.
San Maurizio - Photo credit to Trudy.
It's dreary and plain on the outside, but once you step inside you are surrounded by the most breathtaking frescos. They date back to the 16th century and were painted by Milan's most famous artist, Bernadino Luini and his sons.  It is for good reason that this hidden gem is often referred to as "Milan's Sistine Chapel".
Thanks again to Trudy for these great photos.
Discovery number 5 - Our BEST discovery...
We continue to be grateful for this wonderful opportunity to explore new places, make new friends and learn a new (and very difficult!!!) language.  Best of all, we've discovered that we love SHARING our new city with dear friends.
What a year it has been! 
Guadiamo avanti al prossimo anno!