Ever since I started living my passion for gastronomy, I’ve fantasised to try the haute cuisine of the countries I travel. I will repeat myself again- I love French cuisine haut cuisine but I also find disappointing that most of the top restaurants in the world reflect the French cooking and products rather than the local eating traditions. I more than agree with the philosophy of Carlo Petrini, the founder of the Slow Food movement – eating local products prepared according to local traditions is the best. More than that – I think it is the future.
I didn’t know much about Ristorante Cracco before my dinner there this week. Only that it was in the “World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2008” list. In fact, knowing the doubtful objectivity of this list, I didn’t expect a lot from Cracco…
But my sceptical mood changed when I had the amuse bouche in front of my eyes – a shot of thick pesto. Finally, my dream came true – I was going to eat in a gastronomic restaurant inspired by the local products and cooking techniques of the country. This time Italy.
Pesto legero con succo di uvetta
Of course, the pesto shot was very simple, but imagine pesto made of the freshest basils, the highest quality of pine nuts and olive oil. Imagine the intensity of the smells and the flavours… There was also raisin juice that gave sweetness to it.
We took the menu for 130 € per person which I found very representative of all the dishes on the menu. Also because it had the Milanese specialities I love – saffron risotto and Milanese veal cutlet.
Alici marinate conpomodoro e ostia
If Italy could be described in one plate, this is it. Rice crackers and anchovies, a tiny touch of tomatoes… In this case, “less is more”. The rice crackers were quite bland, but the tomatoes, marinated anchovies and pesto drops were more than enough to create a gastronomic experience.
Musetto di maiale fondente con scampi e pomodori verdi
The pork had been obviously braised for a very long time and was almost melting. Perfect with the simplicity of grilled prawns and green tomatoes.
Risotto alla zafferano con midollo alla piastra
The classical Milanese risotto with bone marrow in the middle.Very simple but executed perfectly. Very generous considering that the dish was from a multi-course menu.
Vitello impanato alla Milanese petali di pomodoro e zucchini
My favourite dish of the dinner – the tenderness of the veal and crispiness of the outside were unbelievable. True perfection.
Selezione di formaggi dal carrello
Nuvola di mascaropone al limone, menta e rum
I didn’t find the dessert (kind of mousse) very impressive, as I thought it had too much flavour or mascarpone cheese and too little of lemon. But in a way, its neutrality perfectly finished the dinner.
To finishthe dinner –barbajada (dark chocoloate cream), apple chips and petit fours were offered.
The cooking of Carlo Cracco is subtle, intelligent. The chef doesn’t try to invent something new –only local products and classical Italian cooking techniques are used. But it is the small touches and easiness of doing everything that made the dinner so charming. Finally, everything was delicious and this is what counts most, no? A very well thought trip of Italian flavours- definitely worth a return…