Jennifer and I simply love outdoor markets. Jen holds on to the belief that she’s going to stumble across a vintage Louis Vuitton handbag or uncover that perfect piece for our future living room. I’ve got much lower (and more realistic expectations); I’m just thrilled that I get to eat “street food”. Nothing is better than a porchetta paninio (pork sandwich) from a food vendor with freshly fried zeppole(Italian donuts) for dessert. I love sandwiches, I love eating outside and I love feeding my entire family for less than €20!
Jen has been trying to get to the Mercatone dell’Antiquariato del Naviglio Grande since we moved here nearly a year and a half ago. “What’s the big deal – why is it so hard to make it to a market”, you ask? Well, this particular market only takes place on the last Sunday of each month (except for July). For those of you that aren’t math wizards, that’s just eleven chances a year to make it to Milan for this 80-year-old Milanese tradition. Our first attempt was foiled – we set out one day in January of 2013, but got derailed when we couldn’t find parking. It was ambitious of me to try so soon after moving to Italy – had I known then what I know now, I would have just thrown my car on the curb like the hundreds of other locals. Instead, we stopped for lunch and found an amazing sandwich place, which I blogged about HERE. After lunch, we lost the motivation to go back and agreed, “we’ll try again as soon as we get the next opportunity”. Well, travel and other obligations delayed that opportunity fifteen more months. Continue reading Mercatone dell’Antiquariato – Milan’s Outdoor Antique Market→
I have celebrated the year changing exactly thirty-four times. That is a lot of ball drops, backward counting and champagne toasts. In the thirty-four times I have seen the calendar progress another year, I have experienced elaborate dinners, small family gatherings, massive ballroom parties and cozy nights in. I have had “the night of my life” and “the disappointment of a lifetime.” In all this time, I have learned that a valuable life lesson. When you place an unhealthy amount of expectations on any one thing (in this case, an evening), it is hard to meet or exceed the vision you’ve created in your own head.
Fireworks light up the sky behind Milan’s Duomo
Fortunately, disappointment was not the theme as we rang in 2014. The stakes were at an all-time high and the night came together as well as anyone could have hoped. Continue reading New Years in Milan→
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year”… and that means so many things! It means snow flakes and Christmas lights. It means cold weather and hot chocolate. It means Santa Claus and stockings stuffed with goodies. When you live in Europe, it also means tremendous Christmas markets and delicious vin brulè (cooked wine, usually sold on the streets). Over the past couple weeks, we have been taking advantage of it all! Because Christmas is only four days away – I will spend the next four days posting about our Christmas fun. In order to do that, I have to bend my “unbreakable rule” and publish blog posts out of order. I’ll fast-forward to Christmas and then flash back to some exciting posts that I have in the pipeline.
Oh bej! Oh bej! No, you don’t have to say “gesundheit”! I didn’t sneeze. That is the name of a festival held each year in Milan, spanning from December 7th through the following Sunday. How did it get that wonderful name, you ask? “Oh bej! Oh bej!” means, “oh so nice! Oh so nice!” in the Milanese dialect. It is by far, the most important Christmas festival held in Milan. December 7th is the day of the Patron Saint of Milano, Santo Ambrogio. The festival is said to date back all the way to 1510.
I had originally come up with an inventive and funny way to start this post. I was going to draw a parallel between myself and Joey Tribbiani from “Friends”, as we both share an intense love of sandwiches. I scoured the internet for a clip I can so vividly remember, but could not find it. When quizzed about his favorite food (which many people assume is pizza), we learn that his favorite food is in fact, sandwiches!
For those of you that weren’t fans of the show, “Friends” (all 3 of you) – Joey Tribbiani is a fun-loving, womanizing, “foodie” who craves [among other things] sandwiches. Perhaps this love of meat and cheese folded between two pieces of bread comes from his Italian heritage, because as I’m learning – Italians have perfected the art of the sandwich (hereafter referred to as panino or the plural – panini).
On Sunday, Jen and I decided to go to Milano – a forty-five minute drive from our hometown in Como.
Julia playing with pigeons in front of the Duomo in Milano
Jen had heard about a wonderful flea market that is only open the last Sunday of every month. We bundled up with lots of layers and departed at the wee-early hour of 11:00am (and that was rushing to get out the door). On the way, we consulted the internet to tell us what else to do for the day and found out about a wonderful restaurant with over 100 types of panini. We cross-referenced Trip Advisor and read some wonderful reviews of the food. In my mind, it was a lock we were headed to Bar della Crocetta for lunch! By the time we finally got to the flea market (after a few wrong turns), it was already time for lunch – so instead, we re-routed the GPS to Bar della Crocetta. Continue reading The World’s Greatest Sandwich→