Friday, July 13, 2007

Ahhhhhh Milano

This just in....Amazingly, Dolce & Gabbana models backstage at a runway event are actually eating. Real food! Can you believe it?

When I travelled to Venice we went via Milan, which is the center of commerce and fashion in Italy. The impressive part of this vibrant, classic city is the fashion-consciousness of everyone, of every age, all dressed and groomed immaculately. Of course, if it happens to be fashion week in Milan the excitement rivals Paris for dominance in European fashion. The catwalks and runways are a blast but if you can score a behind-the-scenes peek to see how it's all put together that, to me, is far more fascinating. Every time I hear of a fashion event taking place somewhere in the world I always think of Milan. They just seemed to do it the best. The only thing I love more than travel and fashion is food, although all three somehow seem to be intertwined.

Which brings me to the subject of food! The most famous fare one can order in Milan is the Risotto Milanese, usually served with osso bucco. All of the restaurants compete to serve the best authentic risotto, that creamy rice wonder that is always a meal in itself when I order or make it. It takes a while to make. You will probably screw it up the first time. Use good arborio rice and serve it warm but NOT piping hot. In Italy food is never served steaming hot. A good recipe helps. So, here is one. If you can't get to Milan then at least you can eat like a true Milano.

Risotto alla Milanese
• 1 3/4 cups uncooked Arborio rice
• 1/2 cup unsalted butter, divided
• 1 1/2 quarts beef stock
• 3 tablespoons beef marrow
• 1 onion, thinly sliced
• 1 teaspoon saffron powder
• 3/4 cup dry white wine
• salt to taste
• 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
1. Melt half of the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Simmer the onion and beef marrow in the butter for about 10 minutes. When the onion is soft, remove the onion and marrow from the pan using a slotted spoon, and set aside. (I like to leave the onions in.)
2. Saute the rice in the pan over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Stir constantly so the rice will not stick and burn. Stir in one ladle of beef stock, and keep stirring until it is mostly absorbed, ladling and stirring in more of the broth as well as the white wine in the same manner, until the rice is almost al dente. Stir in the saffron, remaining butter, and 3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Turn off the heat, cover and let sit for 4 or 5 minutes.
3. Serve as a bed for ossibuchi or by itself with as much of the remaining Parmesan cheese sprinkled over as you like.

Here's a little video clip of behind the scenes at Milan's men's fashion week featuring the Jill Sander line, courtesy of World Fashions.

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