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RestoReview: Ristorante Cracco (Milan)

Dear Friends and Readers,

My birthday was last month and it so happened that I was also traveling to Milan for work. Besides spending the actual day with my mom and some friends in the Lombardy Lakes area and giving in to some seriously rewarding shopping (€ be damned!), I decided it was time for me to follow the footsteps on my friend Heston Blumenthal.

At a recent event in New York he asked me if I knew Cracco, the talented chef from Milan who had appeared in one of his shows for BBC. As much as the name was familiar, I have to admit I did not know who he was talking about. So I took my chances, broke the piggy bank and in between meetings I showed up in Via V. Hugo, close to piazza Duomo in Milan for my “research”. The décor of the restaurant is modern but warm and friendly – you would imagine that really cool people eat there but they are not of the uptight stuck up kind.

The person (calling him a waiter would be an underestimation because in waiter land he would be more like a prime minister) who helped me with my table was super nice and very fun(ny). I had lunch by myself on an area of the restaurant that looked more like a private room so I could technically indulge in actually licking my fingers, activity that mother would consider inappropriate for a restaurant but for me is a term of endearment. Now pardon the pictures taken with the blackberry – but I had to give you a visual rendition of what I ate.

First part of the feast is the before, namely what I did not order but they had me trying anyway. Some dehydrated vegetables that are not the usual pop colored crunchies you would find at Whole Foods but more like what real vegetables would be if they grew on Mars: encased in a beautiful box and with real flavor, just no moisture.

First appetizer was a Caramelized Russian Salad, presented more like a post modern sculpture, in a stone holder. The Russian Salad, like her American sister, the potato salad is a mayonnaise based concoction, but in this case, it was solidified in a glassy shell of caramelized sugar” I never thought Russian Salad could have an actual texture. I was wrong.

Next appetizer was foodie even: served in a small metal box like a genie in the bottle was a savory crème brulee flavored with EVOO and shellfish. And that’s when I started licking my fingers.

Last appetizer was marinated salmon with foie gras and black truffle. Now if there was one thing I could eat every single day of my life being happy and content is truffle, so this pairing was hell in the sense that now I have tried it and I want to have it every day. But I digress…

Second part of the feast was a risotto with squid ink and sea urchin, sounds pretty common right? Well it was execution which made the difference, the risotto was very creamy and light and the squid ink was present in the form of, way for it…. DUST! Dear readers, if I were at home I would have licked the plate!

Second course: lobster with cod tripe and scallops – the lobster was very well cooked but the star of the dish was definitely the cod tripe… who knew cod had intestines to begin with! This was possibly the most creative and ingenuous dish of the feast.

To freshen the palate I was served a mousse of mango and fisherman’s friend, yes the mint candy – I was positively impressed but seriously where do these guys get the ideas for the pairings? Refreshing and brightly colored, this mousse is another of those things I will start craving and sadly the restaurant is in Milan.

This part of the feast was dessert, etc. in this case the etc. was excellent, not just an afterthought. Dessert was chocolate croquettes with chinotto and caviar sauce – salty and unexpected.

With coffee I was served some bite size wonders including a phenomenal baby macaron and some dehydrated fruit (which was exactly like the alien vegetables I mentioned above).

I totally lucked out too because Carlo Cracco was in the kitchen so I got to meet and talk to him (and yes he is good looking). I went to my afternoon meeting lightheaded for the prosecco, with a lighter wallet and a VERY satisfied palate. Best way to celebrate myself!

Here is the link to the restaurant’s website: http://www.ristorantecracco.it/

I, for one, will definitely be back!

Ciao