Archive for October 22, 2009

Grocery Store Musical

October 22, 2009 Leave a comment

I’m such a sucker for the work of Improv Everywhere, about which I have blogged several times. Their latest mission, Grocery Store Musical, was unveiled yesterday. In the tradition of their classic Food Court Musical, the Improv Everywhere team created a mini-musical that was performed spontaneously at a grocery store in Queens. Watch both — last year’s food court musical and the new grocery store musical. And also go to the Improv Everywhere website to read the post about Grocery Store Musical. It contains background information, photos, and more about the shoppers’ reactions.

Categories: Food, Video

Last Supper Times Two

October 22, 2009 1 comment
Polpette al pomodoro (meat balls) with risotto.

Polpette al pomodoro (meat balls) with risotto.

[Photograph: Dave Yoder for The New York Times]

Our trip preparation continues to distract me from blogging. Maybe I should blog about the trip. Here’s a short item.

As I have mentioned in one post or another, once we leave Joel in Grenoble, we’ll be heading to Venice, Rome, and Florence before returning to France. The way we laid out the trip, our Florence departure day happens to be Gail’s birthday. When I first looked at train schedules, I saw no direct overnight train from Florence to Paris. Only a connection in Milan to an overnight train departing from Milan for Paris at 11:30 at night. That gave me the idea that rather than getting to Milan just in time to make the connection, we could go up earlier in the day and spend a little time in the city. The next time I looked at the schedule online, an overnight from Florence was shown, departing around 9:00 at night. Not having to change in Milan would be convenient, but by that point we liked the idea of seeing Milan. Plus, the 9:00 departure from Florence would get in the way of having a birthday dinner.

With all this in mind, we booked ourselves on a train out of Florence around 12:15, getting into Milan at 2:30 and giving us nine hours before we head to Paris overnight. Now what? Well, we’ve never been to Milan, and the first thing that came to mind was The Last Supper, which is in Santa Maria delle Grazie. One can’t just show up. One needs tickets, and preferably advance reservations. Easier said than done. There’s an official website for reservations, but if you google some combination of The Last Supper and Milan and the church, you’ll see several of the third party companies that are happy to provide tickets for a fee, or tickets and a tour. I studied three of them, but decided I didn’t really want to pay 28 euros apiece for a guaranteed slot and a guide. You could also pay less just for the guaranteed slot. I finally found the official site, which I must say, I’m having trouble re-finding. Ah. Here. In English. It suggests you can get reservations on line for just 6.50 euro apiece, but when you try to click on the desired date, it doesn’t work. It also says, “BOOKING IS COMPULSORY CALLING THE FOLLOWING NUMBERS:” I wasn’t too keen to do this by phone. So I gave up and got tickets through (I think that’s a pun.) I had to indicate preferred times and then two days later they told me what time they got for me. We will be able to enter at 6:00 PM for 15 minutes.

We still had Gail’s birthday dinner to plan. We aren’t wedded to this idea, but what I came up with is Trattoria Milanese. If you have a better suggestion, please tell me. It’s highlighted in the NYT online guide:

This relaxed and funky 74-year-old restaurant is set midst winding narrow streets lined with shops that sell antiques, books and crafts in one of Milan’s oldest sections. The communal tables in several large rooms fill up rapidly at lunch with a mix of suits from the nearby stock exchange, neighborhood ladies who lunch and tourists from Italy and abroad. Handsome brick arches, romantically amateurish water colors, copper pots, faded posters and photos almost distract one from walls that, here and there, could use paint and plaster.

More reassuring is the menu that reads like an index for a Milanese cookbook. The cool salad of cartilaginous pork and veal tendons, nervetti, comes as an appetizer along with carpione, tiny onion and vinegar dressed cold veal cutlets. Minestrone can be had with pasta or the more traditional rice, and in summer is served slightly chilled. Like other dishes presented in the straightforward casalinga (or “housewife”) style, both the risotto Milanese and the al salto are convincing and heartily portioned. Soft mounds of polenta may be enhanced with the braised beef stew, brasato, or a cozily overcooked osso buco, or, big light meatballs in a tomato ragù.

There’s not much Gail likes more than risotto and osso buco. How can we go wrong. Frommer’s says:

Giuseppe and Antonella Villa preside with a watchful eye over the centuries-old premises (a restaurant since 1933), tucked into a narrow lane in one of the oldest sections of Milan, just west of the Duomo. In the three-beamed dining room, Milanese families and other patrons share the long, crowded tables. Giuseppe, in the kitchen, prepares what many patrons consider to be some of the city’s best traditional fare. The risotto alla Milanese with saffron and beef marrow, not surprisingly, is excellent, as is the minestrone that’s served hot in the winter and at room temperature in the summer. The costolette alla Milanese, breaded and fried in butter, is even better here because only the choicest veal chops are used and it’s served with the bone in, and the osso buco is cooked to perfection. If you want to try their twin specialties without pigging out, the dish listed as risotto e osso buco buys you a half portion each of their risotto alla Milanese and the osso buco.

Gail can have both the risotto and the osso buco in one order! Perfect. Me, I’m more of a meatball fan. That dish at the top of the post looks just right. Trattoria Milanese may not be the most elegant place, but it may have the perfect meal for our last supper in Italy.

Categories: Art, Restaurants, Travel