Restaurant Cracco, Milano

cracco milano review

My daughter lives in Milan and I visited her for a few days before Christmas. On the first night I took her to Ristorante Piazza Repubblica which I’ll write about later and for lunch on the day I was leaving she took me to Restaurant Cracco, a 2 Michelin star restaurant.

The amuse bouche were amazing and included black bread with lardo, a tiny tiny olive bread with an intense cheese flavor and a piece of olive in it. Also there was a basket of incredibly crispy vegetable sheets including courgette flowers in a tempura so light it was almost non-existent. Then one of the most amazing things I’ve ever eaten – Russian Salad in a caramel coating! Weirdest sounding thing ever but divine.

We shared a starter (no problem at all when we requested this) of pasta with tomato, raw fish and a lemon sauce. Our main courses were a fish casserole which was out of this world and a Milanese veal dish. The latter being the only disappointment of the meal, my fault I chose badly.

We didn’t have desert but the coffee was served with the most fantastic petit fours. One plate contained three different petit fours each containing blackberry. Alongside, in a sort of toast rack, dried very thinly sliced fruits – apple, pear, kiwi, orange I remember well. Plus icing sugar dusted almonds and cocoa dusted hazelnuts.

Service was an equal match to the food and after the meal I was invited into the kitchen to meet the chef. Altogether a wonderful experience.

Pre-dinner Nibbles

My wife is Zimbabwean so I’ve been exposed to Zimbabwean foods which don’t get near the few tourists who go there. Here are some savoury nibbles which I’ve tried there.

madora

These are Madora, moth caterpillars, collected from trees. They are first boiled and then fried. Available from the deli counter in supermarkets! I can’t describe the taste because it’s not very strong but for me it was the texture which stood out (not very nicely). When tried them I put a whole one in my mouth, as everyone does, and bit on it. The inside burst out just like I’d stamped on one on the ground. After that it was hard going, the outside was like leather and despite lots of chewing I couldn’t actually reduce it much. It was like chewing gum.

ishwa

These are Ishwa, a type of ant or termite, were another matter – quite yummy. They were a bit crisp and again had an indescribable flavour. Eating them is rather like eating shrimps without peeling them, something which didn’t please my wife. She complained that I had legs and feelers stuck between my teeth and it wasn’t a pleasant sight! I liked to nibble them before dinner with a G&T.

mandere

I didn’t get to eat the solitary Mandere. This one landed on our outside table at a restaurant and I was told that they were edible but needed to be boiled. When I asked my wife to put it in her handbag so I could boil it at home she refused what I thought was a quite reasonable request!

A Bacon Hock – Part 2

pea soup

Pea Soup made from the boiled hock stock.

600ml Bacon stock
250g Dried green split peas soaked overnight
2 x Shallots (the long, oval, French ones)
2tbs of Olive oil
Salt (only if the Bacon stock is not salty enough) and Pepper

I sweated the chopped shallots in the olive oil, added the soaked peas and stock. Simmered for, here I’m trying to remember, about 30 – 40 minutes until the peas were cooked. I then removed some peas with a slotted spoon and whizzed everything else up with a stick blender before returning the removed intact peas. It tasted great and didn’t require extra salt, just a little black pepper. Before eating a portion for lunch I’ll add one or two chopped Frankfurters, the smokey taste compliments this soup. If I had some left over chopped bacon I’d have used that instead but it was all used up in the Bacon and Mustard Sauce in Puff Pastry dish.

A Bacon Hock

bacon hock

Earlier this week we visited Wareham in Dorset and purchased, amongst other things, a Bacon Hock from Halletts Butchers. We’ve shopped there before and their meat is exceptional, they’re traditional butchers and the meat is from local farms. This Bacon Hock cost the princely sum of £2.29 which is ludicrous for the amount of meat is provided and became last nights dinner.

The bacon hock was first boiled, allowed to cool and then shredded. Next I made a Mustard Sauce using a little of the stock leftover from boiling the hock, added a generous amount of double cream and a tablespoon of whole grain mustard. The sauce was then thickened slightly before mixing in the shredded hock.

Pastry cases were made using Puff Pastry. Just before dinner the pastry cases were warmed in the oven before being filled with the reheated bacon hock in mustard sauce. The filled cases were then served with Peas a la Francaise. Delicious!