Milan: food and fashion capital


Milan, Italy
Milan, Italy

Milan is famous for being the fashion capital of Italy. Some of the world’s biggest fashion brands call Milan home. It is also a must-visit Italian city for art lovers and opera aficionados.

Of all the great places to eat in Italy, you wouldn’t normally think of Milan as a must-visit foodie destination. Yet it is.

Home to some 157 Michelin-chosen eateries, Milan has a strong tradition of great places to eat. Some of Italy’s favourite recipes also hail from Milan.  Milan is the capital of the Lombardy region, which – like every Italian region – has its own unique gastronomic traditions.

For a city so famous for fashion, you wouldn’t expect the cuisine of Milan to be calorific. Yet it is. It is also, of course, delicious.

Being to the north of Italy, where the climate is much cooler than the south, it is not common to find tomatoes. There are not many seafood dishes either, but lots of meat recipes. In terms of dairy products, butter is used more often than olive oil. Italy’s famous blue cheese, gorgonzola, comes from nearby town of… Gorgonzola, whilst the delightfully fattening mascarpone, the 9th century cow-milk Quartirolo and the ancient Taleggio cheese all hail from the region.

As to Milanese dishes, there is the much-loved Pollo alla Milanese – Milanese crumbed chicken. There is also the Costoletta alla Milanese, a pork chop similarly crumbed and fried… and delicious! The secret to these traditional Milan recipes is that they are fried in butter, clarified for best results.

Another hearty dish from Milan is Ossobuco. A veal shank that has been crosscut, Ossobucco takes its name – meaning “bone hole” – from the O-shaped bone in the centre. Slow-cooked in vegetables, wine and broth that form a tasty sauce, it is fall-off-the-bone, melt-in-the-mouth good. It has been a staple of Milanese food for several hundred years at least and, given its diffusion around Italy today, shows no sign of waning in popularity.

Although pasta and rice are usually served as first-course dishes, Ossobucco is one of the very rare exceptions when risotto can be served as an accompaniment to a second-course dish. The risotto: Risotto alla Milanese.

Also known as “Golden Rice” Risotto alla Milanese is principally made with onion, saffron and butter, turning the rice a rich golden colour.

As to dessert, Milan is home to the Christmas cake, Panettone. For All Souls’ Day, there is also the delightfully-named Pane dei Morti (Bread of the Dead), which is actually a cinnamon biscuit.


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