food.social Chef Interviews : Valentina

In this episode of food.social experiences, we change our direction to a cool Milanese loft owned by our chef Valentina. She is a journalist who writes about design and architecture, and also a university professor, but also a passionate gluten free chef! Her passion for cooking transformed to gluten free cuisine when she found out that she was celiac. A well known home chef in the gluten free circles, Valentina enjoys crowded social dining experiences with people from all over the world. Keep following Valentina on food.social to find out more about delicious gluten free dishes and join amazing culinary experiences.

food.social Chef Interviews : Sylvie

food.social team visits Sylvie, a traditional Italian home chef at her cozy and welcoming house. She shares her cooking journey with a big heart warming smile. The way that she enthusiastically describes how she selects the right combination tastes to please her guests can only give a hint about what you should expect when you join her dining events. Keep following food.social to learn about Sylvie and join amazing culinary experiences.

Milan Food Guide: Top 7 Places for the Pasta Lover

Renowned the world over as comfort food, pasta is easily found in any restaurant that serves continental fare and could just as easily be whipped up at home. With innumerable combinations of pasta shapes and sauces chances are you are not running out of a new pasta dish to try anytime soon. And if you’re in Milan, looking to get your hearts fill of pasta, look no more. We have compiled a handy list of places you can hit up to get your pasta craving fulfilled.

1. Ristorante da Oscar

Visit Ristorante da Oscar for a casual dining experience in Buenos Aires, serving authentic Italian recipes and some of best pasta you can get in Milan. The average cost for two is around €60, and it is recommended to make prior reservations if you want to beat the usually long queues. Do try their famous Carbonara!

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2. Pasta d’Autore

Located in Sant’Ambrogio, this Italian dining experience offers excellent homemade fresh pasta at highly affordable prices – with the average cost for two being just €30. You can choose the type of pasta, the sauce and have it prepared fresh just as per your taste. However, this restaurant is open only till 6 pm in the evening so the best time to enjoy their pasta would be at lunch.

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3. Paper Moon

Priced on the higher end, it is advisable to make prior reservations at this popular restaurant. Offering a wide selection of typical Italian fare, Paper Moon is a great place in San Babila to get your pasta fix, with a hearty quantity and a traditional taste.

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4. Trippa

It is said that in order to have an authentic Italian dining experience, you should eat at a local trattoria. Trippa is a modern take on the traditional trattoria dining experience, and it serves the traditional flavour with a twist. Dinner for two will cost you about €50 at this Porta Romana eatery and amongst their other specialities, their pasta will have you coming back for more.

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5. Osteria del Gnocco Fritto

While popularly known for its fried dumplings and an appetizing selection of cheese boards, Osteria del Gnocco Fritto located in Navigli area also serves some excellent fresh pasta, which is totally worth your buck.

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6. Convivium

Located in the hip neighbourhood of Brera, visit Convivium to try pasta served with the luxurious bottarga – also known as the mediterranean caviar! The average cost for two people will be around €60.

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7. A Local’s Home

If you want to beat the tourist crowd, and avoid the commercial flavours offered at these popular restaurants then the best treat you can give yourself is to dine at a local’s home. Sign up for a home-food experience hosted by a local near you, and look out for one offering pasta on its menu. Have your comfort food served to you in the comfort of a home and enjoy authentic Italian pasta made with not just passion and warmth but most likely using a recipe that has been passed down generations. Find a food host near you on food.social!

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Learn Bartending Techniques with Dry Milano

Bartending is an art and one that requires mad skills.  There are no two ways about it. If you think that simply memorizing a few cocktail recipes and putting them together at a party makes you a bartender, then you’re wrong. Mixology takes a lot more than just memorizing recipes. As a bartender, you need to understand your alcohol and all your ingredients. Your drink should tell a unique story through its flavours, and as a bartender, you are the author of that story, with the ingredients being your characters.

Having received recognition around the world as a serious profession, there are now specialized schools for bartending operating around the world. But what if you’ve already made your career choice and just want to pick up a few tricks to entertain your guests? Well, Dry Milano is here to solve your problem.

Dry Milano is a hip cocktail bar with two prime locations – Viale Vittorio Veneto and Via Solferino – offering a high-end nightlife experience with its wide choice of cocktails to go with your meal. Now, having a name like “Dry” for a cocktail bar is pretty curious – after all, as per its common meaning of ‘no alcohol’, it leaves the place quite redundant. However, dry also means ‘reduced to the bones’ or rather, reduced to ‘the fundamental qualities’ and in this case, quite consciously so.

Dry aims to simply bring together two fundamentals – pizza and alcohol – to serve you the best pizzas accompanied by remarkable cocktails in the heart of Milan. While at it, the bar is also offering a unique experience for mixology fans – to learn bartending techniques.

At this distinctive experience, Dry Milano has curated an exclusive session behind the bar with the Dry bar manager. During this experience, the bar manager will guide you through the basics of mixology and demonstrate some of the common tricks of bartending. The session will culminate in an opportunity to shake his signature cocktail with him!

To accompany the cocktail that you have just mixed for yourself, you will be served:

  • Cubotti with roasted ham and horseradish
  • Focaccia with rocket, squacquerone cheese and basil oil
  • Selection of homemade gelato

Sign up for this fun experience, and pick up a cool bartending skill or two from the best in the business.

Cooking Class followed by Dinner with Mariangela

Are you on a visit to Milan and wondering how will you pack so many souvenirs for all your friends back home? Or perhaps you’re a resident of the city and are looking for a new refreshing activity to do on your day off? In either case, we have the answer for you. Sign up for a cooking class with Mariangela at Cascina Cuccagna.

Here are the top reasons why you should sign up for this class:

1. Cooking skills make for a great souvenir.

When in Italy, learn to cook as the Italians do. Sure, there will one too many Italian restaurants around the block from your home, but there’s no better Italian food than the homemade kind. Learn the traditional recipes and surprise your friends back home by throwing them an authentic Italian themed dinner party.

2. Cooking is therapeutic.

For those who reside in the city, and have had a hectic work week, it is vital to do some de-stressing activities on your day off. Cooking has proven to have therapeutic effects on people, especially when you are making something you love to eat. This class offers the opportunity to learn the traditional Italian recipes and cooking techniques that have been passed down generations in Italian families. This unique learning experience will revitalize any food enthusiast, and give you a chance to reconnect with your roots.

3. You get to interact with fellow food enthusiasts.

This class is conducted by Mariangela, a Sicilian woman who has been enamoured by the culinary arts ever since she was a child. Mariangela grew up watching her mother and grandmothers preparing wonderfully delicious meals for their family, creating art in the kitchen. She took inspiration from these amazing women in her life and realized her passion for cooking. At Cascina Cuccagna she runs her own cooking school, “The Cucinista” where she passes on her love & skills for Italian as well as international recipes. Being in this class will allow you to not only interact with Mariangela but all other students who have come in with similar excitement to exchange recipes, trivia and skills.

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4. There’s dinner.

That’s right. You aren’t just following instructions and cooking up a small portion enough to take a photograph for your social media. This cooking class is followed by a dinner which allows you to taste all the varieties that have been prepared during the class, plus additional delicacies by Mariangela. This is a great bonding and networking opportunity.

5. It’s located in an 18th Century Farmhouse.

Cascina Cuccagna is a charming 18th-Century farmhouse, that has been restored to a modern functional space that preserves the old-world beauty. Located in the centre of Milan, this farmhouse serves as space for the community to promote cultural and entertainment activities. Easily accessible and a hub of cultural activities, this is the perfect place to unwind and mingle with like-minded people.

Explore Beer Craft at Birrificio Milano

Italy is a haven for wine lovers, and being in Milan you have access to some of the finest wines in the world. With Birrificio Milano though, beer lovers, too, have a reason to celebrate now. This top-notch Milanese brewery produces 7 types of beers currently, with the alcohol content ranging from 4.2% to 7.5%.

Established in 2013, Birrificio Milano is a brewing company that is set in one of the industrial area’s still perfectly preserved buildings. Their mission is “producing high-quality, unfiltered, non-pasteurized beer, selecting top ingredients with care and lots of passion.”

Built on the site of a historical Milanese factory, Birrifico wants to embrace the values of handicraft representative of the site. They want to pursue a dream of excellence by locally producing high-quality, handcrafted beer and creating a competitive Italian brand that is fit for sharing with the world and yet, entirely produced in Italy.

As per Birrifico Milano: “Our beers reflect our way of being, curious and open to the new, yet also strongly connected to Italian tradition and taste. We select top raw materials and modify them with great care for details.”

At the brewery, meticulous amount of care is given to the selection of raw materials, the production process, taste and branding. Special attention is also given to using environmentally safe products to ensure that the production site is not only functional but also sustainable.

At this tasting event, you will get to explore beer craft via a 2-hour long guided tour of the brewery led by an expert. During the tour, you will get acquainted with what a normal day at the brewery looks like, the daily work and the production process. The tour will culminate in an elaborate tasting session of their 7 different craft beers, accompanied by a spread locally sourced cold cuts and cheeses.

The guests will also get an opportunity to purchase the products at favourable prices.

You will come across many a wine tasting tours in and around Milan, but this is a great tour for those who prefer the beer over wine.

5 Food Souvenirs to Buy from Italy

We all love taking back home a bit of the place we visit. Travellers often know exactly what souvenir they want to collect from a country even before they land there. Italy offers many a unique items that can be bought as memorabilia besides the usual suspects (magnets, postcards and key chains). There’s Italian porcelain, glass, leather, shoes…and then there’s Italian food items! Here are 5 best food souvenirs you should buy from Italy and the food brands to look out for near you.

1. Pasta

Pasta is easily available all around the world, but there’s something special about buying pasta from its birthplace. You’ll find the widest variety of shapes and sizes all under one roof, and these packets not only make for great personal souvenirs but are also a delightful present for your loved ones back home. Do try some of the local brands the store may have to offer, but if you’re looking for safe bets then De Cecco and Barilla are your go-to brands, which are easily available all over Italy.

2. Polenta

Polenta is perhaps the most underrated comfort food that there is. Thanks to the popularity enjoyed by mashed potatoes, this cornmeal equivalent from Italy has been flying under the radar. Take home a packet of polenta grits to whip up at your next dinner party. Go for any local yellow cornmeal when choosing your polenta.

3. Aceto Balsamico di Modena

Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is easily available in global supermarkets. However, most of the commercial grade bottles simply imitate the traditional product by addition of thickeners, coloring and sweeteners. Get your hands on a traditional and original Aceto Balsamico di Modena while in Italy to take home the true flavours of this rich and glossy vinegar. Tip: the colour of the cap indicates the age of the vinegar. White cap means the vinegar has been aged for 12 years, and golden cap indicates that it is extravecchio (extra old) having been aged for 25 years or more.

4. Torrone

Save the typical chocolate souvenir for other European countries, and take this delicious nutty nougats from Italy instead. They are regarded as traditional Christmas dessert, so they make for perfect holiday season souvenir.

5. Limoncello

Limoncello (also known as limoncino in Northern Italy) is an Italian Lemon Liqueur, the second most popular in the country after Campari. It’s made from the zest of Sorrento lemons with an average alcohol content ranging 25-30%. While it is used to make various cocktails and added to desserts even, limoncello’s primary purpose is to be served as a digestivo at the end of a typical Italian meal. This liqueur can be brewed at home quite easily, so naturally there are a quite a few locally made limoncellos  in the market. If you are looking for some branded liqueur then opt for the classic Italian heritage brand Dolce Cilento.

4 Food Tours to Take for a Foodie Date with Milan

Italy’s rich cultural heritage allows a traveller to explore the country via a wide selection of tours that focus on art, history, fashion and food. Otherwise known globally for its fashion scene, Milan also boasts a strong gastronomical prowess in the country, and taking a guided food tour is one of the best ways to discover it.

Last Supper and Dinner

Duration: 3 Hours | Cost: €160 onward

For the fans of art and history, this tour is a must. This special tour allows you to visit Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’ for an extended after hours viewing. The 30 minutes viewing is followed up by an exquisite 3 course dinner at Eataly – one of Italy’s oldest and finest establishments serving authentic taste of Italy. Take this tour to enjoy two memorable suppers in one night. The tour also offers an opportunity to shop at the Eataly store at a discounted price.

Patisserie Tour

Duration: 2.5 Hours | Cost: €60 onward

Explore the sweet side of Milan with this tour that takes you to the top 4 patisseries of the city. Not only do you get to taste the traditional pastries but also discover the art behind making them. On this tour you will be tasting Panettone, Cannoncini, Marron Glace, Pasticceria Pastries and Pralines. The sweets will be paired with hot drinks wherever appropriate, and you can expect a minimum of one serving at each stop. Your local guide, will regale you with insights and trivia throughout the tour.

Wine Tasting Experience

Duration: 1.5 Hours | Cost: €40 onward

Enjoy a fine selection of local wines at a traditional wine bar in the heart of Milan. With an expert sommelier on hand, you will learn about the wines you’re trying and the process of making them. The tastings of red and whites will accompanied by samples of traditional food from the Lombard region to elevate the flavours of wine that you’re trying.

Brera Food Tour

Duration: 3 Hours | Cost: €36 onward

One of the oldest neighborhoods of Milan, Brera is known for its eclectic mix of old school charm and youthful vibe. On this guided and narrated walking tour, you will learn about the cultural history of Milan, while tasting Italian delights from local shops. The delicacies include: Melanzane alla Parmigiana, Cannoli, artisan beer made in Italy, culatello, Parma ham, gelato, Milan-style aperitivo and pizza in teglia. At the end of the tour, not only will you leave with a satisfied appetite but also with knowledge about food production, techniques, and a renewed appreciation for your Italian favorites.

5 Restaurants Where Milan Loves To Eat

If you’re confused as to which food tour to take while visiting Milan, then here’s one you can embark on independently. Navigate around the city by visiting the top restaurants frequented by the locals, and gorge on some of Milan’s most popular dishes. We’ve picked out the 5 best restaurants in Milan that are a must visit.

1. Carlo e Camilla in Segheria

This rustic fine dining experience is brought to you by Michelin starred Chef Carlo Cracco and art director Tanja Solci. Set in an historic sawmill, everything about this restaurant is an artistic stroke – the location, the interiors and of course, the food. This spacious high ceilinged restaurant, is run by Neapolitan Chef Luca Pedata who brings a fresh perspective to traditional Italian gastronomy. The offerings are seasonal, changing 4 times a year.

With both an indoor and an outdoor setting. Carlo e Camilla is only open for daily dinners and Sunday lunch and is on the expensive side, with dinner for two coming up to roughly 120.

2. Pizza Am

We’ll keep this one simple: Pizza Am is hands down the best pizza in the city. An absolute favorite amongst locals, there’s usually a long waiting queue, but if the owner’s around you’re likely to be treated to a complimentary drink and nibbles while you wait. Vegetarians can rejoice, as the entire menu is meat-free, yet offering a decent variety. The cozy pizzeria is the perfect place for a midweek pizza date, with cost for two being €30 on an average.

3. La Dogana del Buongusto

Located in downtown Milan, this restaurant and winery is a hidden gem that offers Lombardy cuisine along with wine tastings. This is the place you go to if you are in mood for some traditional dishes such as Milanese Risotto or Cotoletta (breaded veal cutlet). Their expert sommeliers will happily guide you through their expansive wine selection and help you pair it with cured meats, cheese and other delicacies. Lunch for two at La Dogana del Buongusto will cost you €40 whereas dinner for two will cost upto €70.

4. Erba Brusca

Run by Chef Alice Delcourt, the Erba Brusca ristorante prides itself on using only the freshest of ingredients, sourced primarily from its own kitchen garden along with carefully selected local producers. This little green restaurant is known for its outdoor seating, especially during the summers when guests love to come in large groups. Cost for two is approximately €70.

5. Trippa

Trippa is a traditional style trattoria run by Chef Diego Rossi, offering daily specialities depending on the seasonal availability of produce. The open style kitchen will allow you to watch as your dishes are prepared with immaculate finesse. The simple furnishings make for an intimate and homely ambience, whereas the friendly staff will gladly help you pick out the best dishes and wine. A meal for two will set you back €50.

3 High-End Food Experiences Worth Investing in Milan

Milan will never fail to take you by surprise when it comes to offering distinctive experiences. While there’s a lot you can do in the city on a budget, there are also quite a few experiences that tip the scales over onto the expensive side. It may not be possible to try all of them, but here’s our list of 3 high-end food experiences that will be totally worth your buck.

1. Enjoy a culturally rich dinner at a Milanese museum

If are have fascination with discovering local culture, and the history behind it, it’s likely you will visit some renowned museums of Milan. While on your culture trip, it is worth experiencing a unique dining experiences within the walls of these museums. One of the museums that offers such an immersive affair is the Mudec – the Museum of Cultures.

Two Michelin star Chef Enrico Bartolini, offers ‘Contemporary Classic’ taste at his restaurant located on the third floor of Mudec. Make a reservation in advance and be prepared to shell out €200 for a food experience you will never forget!

2. Attend a Food Festival

Milan is host to a variety of eminent festivals be it fashion, film or food. Taste of Milano, a favorite amongst the locals is dedicated to Michelin Starred Chefs. This annual event takes place in May, and offers high end cuisine with food tastings, cooking shows and masterclasses. This festival is a great way of treating yourself to some extraordinary food prepared by these talented chefs at a reasonable price. Tickets to the festival are priced at €16 usually (excluding any food charges).

3. Indulge in a meal with a view

There’s definitely something magical about eating  whilst you overlook the entire city, and what better way to wait for your meal that to get lost in an enchanting view? Milan sets the bar high and offers quite a few restaurants you can choose from to indulge in a meal with a view. A local favorite, fairly new on the scene is Ceresio 7 Pools & Restaurant. Located on top of Enel Building, the venue presents panoramic views of the city’s skyline. Dinner for two will chime in at roughly €140.

Another option would be yet another restaurant housed in the premises of a Museum. Terrazza Triennale – Osteria con Vista, housed on the terrace of La Triennale di Milano, overlooks the Sempione park and makes for a perfect date night venue with dinner for two costing approximately €100.