November 5, 2018 |
So I write this on board a budget airline somewhere over the Indian Ocean. Yet another flight, to yet another destination in the totally opposite direction to the previous one. But hey ho, it’s clean, seats are not too bad and we appear to be going in the right direction, which always helps.
I am therefore compelled, yes compelled, to write down my thoughts on my culinary experiences over the last few weeks as I flit between Milan, Dubai and now Bangalore, ok fine Milano, Dubaay, Bengaluru if you insist. From a really appalling piadina in the otherwise stunning Piazza al Duomo in Milan, to the best pizza ever in beautiful Menaggio via a pretty good upma (Indian semolina breakfast) pot noodly thing on board this flight to wondering whether my preference for Asian vegetarian on board a really well know airline will ever mean anything apart from paneer curry.
As you sit and read this in a state of fervish excitement, with beads of anticipation trickling down your forehead, please note that I will be neither naming nor shaming any establishment, but merely commenting on my experiences and hurling unwarranted judgements in your general direction. As long as we are clear.
So yes I had my fourth paneer curry in a row on the not aforementioned airline. I had made a decision in May to go full-on veggie and, all previous attempts at hilarity aside, it has been a very good decision – more gym work, more energy, less bloated, more preachy. All good stuff, and I changed my meal preference to suit my new found lifestyle and also because you get fed before the chicken or fish trolley comes around. Check me.
So we get to Menaggio late and, after finding that the restaurant in the Hotel Fawlty Towers in Menaggio was closed, we ventured into town to find a bar that served beer and cheese. I assume during the day it was wine and cheese, but tonight it was less posh and so started a week of eating fabulous pasta, great pizza, terrible breakfasts and decent wine. Marvelous consistency in above standard mediocrity aimed essentially at American tourists who came armed with their DNA certificates to prove their claim to being 64% Eyetalian.
Milan was a different story as it ranged from absolute garbage to simple brilliance. From that piadina that looked like someone had flattened a cowpat, stuffed it full of aubergine and cheese, frightened the life out of it in a grill and shouted ‘prego’ at some really disinterested waiter chap who charged us silly money for privilege of eating this whilst looking at the Duomo to a brilliant place that had 10 things on the menu, made its own pasta and attracted all the cool kids, and us. In the middle of this range was Aperol Spritz and what a middle it was.
I had seen a lot of people drinking what appeared to be Irn Bru in a posh glass and I thought no way, its Moretti for me, until the day we found a bar in the piazza. Painted, vaulted ceilings, frescos and barmen straight out of the 1930’s shaking cocktails for locals and tourists alike. Bertram Wooster could have stood here with his chum Bingo Little drinking these orange delights. Actually it was me and the missus, but you get the picture. Orangey, bittery, prosecco(y) all topped off with soda water straight from a can. Refreshing, authentic and better than beer. There I said it. I have made it at home since my return and found that the addition of gin makes it rather interesting.
So that was Italy, I thank you, and after another delicious paneer curry and a few days of cooking at home, I find myself en route to Bangalore eating a rather good upma thing looking forward to three days of a family wedding, which will consist of being force fed horrible Indian sweets and hoping to the skies that my decision to not pack Gaviscon, Imodium and Rennie will not come and strike me with force of the piadina cowpat.
Oh and I didn’t eat on any trains. Sorry.