Ripa di Porta Ticinese 55, Milan +39-02-8940-6277
It has been two years and two days since I first drove from France to London to start a new life. Add to that 10 months for an MBA and it’s been nearly three years since I left my hometown of New York City. I am often asked about how the cities are different and what do I miss from NY. My list, which I will save for another time, is often long and nostalgic. At the top of that list, however, are my family and friends so when my best friend/ex-roommate/partner–in-crime, Michal, said she was moving to Europe I was elated. By American standards she is not exactly close. Geographically, Milan and London are about as close as New York and Atlanta (I had to Google this, took me four tries) but psychologically they are basically neighbours. All I had to do was make sure that she actually went through with it and stayed.
So in the middle of June I trundled off to Milan into 88˚F (31˚C) heat to look for apartments. I may have just described a modern day nightmare for some but for me, this is my bag. I love hot weather and am obsessed with real estate. So what if I am on my own and don’t speak Italian while Michal is lost in some suburb trying to sort out her visa.
At the end of day one, we are discouraged. I fear that I am going to lose her back to the comforts of the United States and air conditioning. We had been scouring our little guide book for some where to eat and figured we would hit up a new neighbourhood since we had already memorized 75% of the city. We wanted to eat in the Navigli, the south of Milan where the canals are. We mentioned this to a friend who gave us a disgusted look like we were patchouli-wearing backpackers but then proceeded to call her friend and book us a table.
Al Pont de Ferr is not an unknown locale. It graces way too many guide books to be considered a local find but surprisingly we were the only two customers speaking English. The dishes are simple, delicious and well priced. One stand-out, however, was the squid. I had read recently in the New York Times that said “THERE'S an old chestnut about squid: Cook it either for just two minutes, or leave it on the stove for at least 30.” Whether this was the former or the latter I have no idea but am inclined toward the latter, it was the best squid, hands down, that I have ever had. Let it be known that I am not a squid novice. I have been around the block once or twice when it comes to squid so I do not utter these words lightly.
The setting is not something to be scoffed at either as the canals are beautiful. You do get the feeling that you might have your handbag stolen at any given moment and I was bitten than no fewer than a large colony of mosquitoes, nonetheless, it was a beautiful night. There is nothing like some good food and wine to get someone to warm up to a city. Welcome to the Continent, Michal.