More food, George Clooney and my night with 6 Italian men
When I went to Lake Como in Lombardy, Northern Italy, I hoped to visit George Clooney, no, really, I did…..but he wasn’t home. He has a house on Lake Como if you haven’t heard, and Lake Como was pretty much where I was staying. So, instead I had to go on with the other things that I came to Italy to do ….eating ,drinking and looking at food.
First would you like to see where George Clooney lives for 6 months of the year?
Fortunately there are a lot of other things going on that attracted my attention. The first was Tutto Food in Milano. The 2013 world food show for packaged, frozen, alcoholic, pastry and preserved foods . Euro food shows are big, I am talking 5 or 6 exhibition halls big. You must look at the program and plan your path through the staggering array of exhibitors.
Before the rush you must start with breakfast the Italian way. Keep in mind that there is no reason for Italians to take a long drawn out breakfast like say… the British. Bacon, eggs tea… I think not. An Italian favourite when commuting is the Auto Grill. This institution can be found on each and every freeway, which Italy has plenty of . Stop along the way with every one else and throw down a heart starting coffee and grab a pastry. Italians don’t believe in wasting time on breakfast, they are planning ahead to lunch. Auto Grills can also be a place to grab your next meal with a decent choice of Salumi, foccacia , cheese and probably anything else you care to mention. Breakfast, whether at an Auto grill or small coffee shop is quick…………
Breakfast behind us we head for the vast halls of food to have a look at the exciting possibilities from new producers and our favourite artisans. We buy new season oil, truffle pesto, truffle vinegar and have a look at all the Panettone in the “dolce” hall.
The nature of Italians is evident in the style of this show with dining set up on stands, where food is served and guests are welcomed warmly. I’ve never been to a food show where so much food is cooked and served.
After the show, later tonight I have been invited to dinner with my colleague, his hometown is just outside Como so he has a lot of friends in town. We take a bit of a stroll around the old town, in the late afternoon, before my most favourite part of the Italian day…….
” Aperitivo”. We head to Bar Como in the old town and meet up for Negronis and snacks what is not to love?
After Appertivo we head off for dinner walking through the streets of old Como into a sort of compound with parking in the middle. This turns out to be the building where Nicola ( the host, cook and owner) lives. It has a small stone gateway that only just allows a modern day car to enter. The residents park their cars inside where once horses and carts would have tethered for the night . The apartments look ancient from the outside but nothing can prepare me for the actual appearance of the apartment from the inside. Nicola shows me around. He has spent 2 years renovating this place in the middle of town. It is a sprawling masterpiece with a state of the art kitchen. He makes me feel very relaxed and at home……meanwhile the doorbell has rung many times and, as we get back to the kitchen, where my colleague is munching on Antipasti and drinking wine with a roomful of men and realise I have been invited to a “welcome home ” party for him. I hear a bit of chatter, questions about who I am and what I am doing there. Amongst all these Italian men. They are gracious, and I think when they realise my Italian is rubbish they relax. I am a minority. It appears I am also at a boy’s night. Awwww, they let me join in
It’s amazing how much fun you can have when you only speak a few words of each others language. Here are Marco, Alberto, Diego, Nicola, Andrea and Frederico. The boys were poking fun at me taking photos ( most of which were blurry- thank you Lord, I didn’t have to drive home) and were intrigued about my blog. They laughed about what I might write about them. ” What can you write when you are not sure what we are saying?” Ha ha well….
Some of our selection of wines which include Artisan and Organic
Of course this is absolutely nothing like what most boys nights would be in Australia apart from the copious bottles of wine that were cracked. (this was of course in the name of research)….It is surprising how much Italian men like Prosecco, the dry refreshing less alcoholic version of bubbles… I like that. I have also decided that men who can cook, set a table and have dinner, on a boys night are my kind of men. I like that too. Italians are masculine enough to be comfortable but soft enough to have style and their own grace. (And Frederico….you must be a great Dad, cause you are funny in English or Italian). We left before the dishes were done a shame, because in the name of research I wanted to see who put the rubber gloves on and who picked up the tea towel………… I sure didn’t miss George Clooney tonight.
Today we are back at the show for another round. Here are a couple more glimpses. Dinner tonight and tomorrow night could not be more different for us or for Milan and I can’t wait to share.
Prosciutto. We ate lots of prosciutto & parmesan between…olive oil, pasta, icecream, chocolate, truffles, panetone, nougat, salami, mustard fruits, pickled pepperoncini and on …in no particular order