When my friend in Milan took me to Eataly I was initially surprised to discover that he wanted to show me a grocery store, however, after a walk through the boutique Italian market, I could understand why it had become such an attraction in Milan.
Let's take a walk...
Walk with me down Milan's fashionable Corso Garibaldi to Eataly here.
Look who else is here, Jaime Oliver. I immediately think of a chef friend of mine in Barcelona--Joel Serra Bevin--and his new Spanish cookbook, Papalosophy which I'm excited to receive after it gets funded. (Checkout his KICKSTARTER campaign.)
As I continue to browse through the small book aisle I overhear a woman say, "You have everything from books to food here..." Yes, at Eataly you can find cooking utensils, cookbooks, wine and, of course, authentic, straight-from-Italy culinary products. Their main goal is to show that high-quality products are available to everyone at affordable prices and to share stories of the people and companies who make the best, high quality Italian food and wine.
I walk by the fruit section. I love kaki. My friend in Milan asked if I knew what kaki was called in English. Good question. Since I lived in Barcelona for three years, I am also accustomed to calling it kaki. However, a quick online search and I learn that in English it's called Japanese or Asian persimmon.
The Italian food market is busy, as I expect it would be on a Saturday. The name "Eataly" is a combination of the words "eat" and "Italy". It is also a play on words as Eataly, sounds very much like Italy. When I think of the name of the Italian market, it reminds me of the Disney and Pixar animation Ratatouille even though the animation is set in Paris--my thoughts and prayers go out to all the people affected by the terrible incident on the thirteenth.
I hear a man mention mermalada...yes there are lots of jams and jellies to choose from--fragole, pesche, albicocca, prugne. I see two people eating the pita bread-looking sandwich my friend in Milan asked if I had tried. I haven't tried it because bread causes inflammation in my arthritic hips. I walk towards the Venchi chocolate waterfall--ah, chocolate.
Another man walks by with an ice cream cone. Another one of my guilty pleasures, although processed sugar also causes inflammation. I walk by the detox books on the way to the ice cream counter. Perhaps I should check if there are any interesting recipes or juices for the yoga and detox program I'm launching next year.
Ah, this is where the man got the ice cream, Gelateria Alpina--pistacchio, my favorite. I just had lunch at Copacobana Temakeria for the second time this week so unfortunately, no ice cream today.
Here it is. The pita bread-looking sandwich my friend in Milan mentioned, piadina. I stop to take another photo. The two young men in the kitchen see me and pose. The nicer looking one stops to talk to me.
"What is a piadina?" I ask not sure if I'm pronouncing it correctly.
"Piadina, well, it's basically a sandwich made with very thin bread," the young man explains smiling at me. "Where are you from?" he asks.
"California." Oh the smile. Keep walking Renee, keep walking.
I go upstairs. There's meat and cheese, both of which I don't eat so I skip that section and instead walk over to an olive oil tasting display. I am a bit of an olive oil connoisseur and some years ago I remember reading that if we consume good fats it blocks our fat cells from absorbing the bad fats. I'm not sure if this is exactly how the good and bad fats work in the body but, if we look at women from the Mediterranean, many of them don't have cellulite. Whether that's from the olive oil, genetics or lifestyle, I'm not sure. Perhaps a combination of all three.
I try a small piece of bread with olive oil. It's nice. It's smoky. I like olive oil with a strong earthy, sometimes spicy flavor.
"What's the name of this olive oil?" I ask a man in a suit promoting the brand.
"L'Ottbratico," he says.
"What does that mean?"
"Because the olives are harvested in the month of October, it's called L'Ottbratico," he explains. "The oil itself is from Calabria and won the Gambero Rosso contest for best olive oil in 2015."
I nod and smile and continue walking. I see rice cakes. My friend in Milan explained that rice cakes are bad because of the way they are processed. Perhaps that explains why the bio rice cakes I bought in Barcelona had a very bad number on them--six three times. Or maybe I'm a bit superstitious.
I see some CDs and more books--Bonnie tyler, Santana, Metallica. I forgot that Eataly had live music the night my friend took me there.
A girl walks by and looks at the pesto al pistacchio. Further down the aisle, I see a woman with a handsome man put some fresh pasta into a basket. I notice that I'm following the route that my friend in Milan had taken when he walked me through Eataly two nights before--I'm glad he suggested that I come back. I had fresh pasta while I was in Sicily in October, it does taste fresher than the traditional boxed stuff.
There's a map of Italy with the different regions where the olive oil comes from. I stroll by the shelves of olive oil before I stop at the truffle stand. The couple with the fresh pasta had also stopped there. I place my nose over the basket of truffles on the counter.
"The real truffles are in here," a young woman says. "Those are fake." I feel a little silly, but that explains why the truffles in the basket don't smell like anything.
"How much is a kilo of truffles?" I ask. The young woman is silent. I remember that truffles are quite expensive and rephrase my question. "How much is one hundred grams?"
"One hundred grams costs three hundred and eighty euros. The black truffles are ninety euros for one hundred grams," she says.
"Why are the white ones so expensive?"
"Because this summer it didn't rain so much and the white ones need lots of rain. So it didn't grow so much," she says.
Let's continue walking...
I wonder if I'm done as I finish walking through the second level. No we're not done yet, there's one more level to go, the wine. I'm trying to remember what my friend in Milan said about the wine. I remember he mentioned Barbaresco and Barolo and Borgogno. I believe he said all of them were very good--judging by the prices, I believe he is right.
I walk by a barrel topped with bottles of white and red wine. I recognize the little white and red labels--vino libero. My friend in Milan explained that the wine isn't organic--although we did have a glass that said organic the other evening. However, these wineries make the wine and grapes with less chemicals than traditional wine. Even thought these wines are more natural, they can't be labeled as organic because technically speaking, they aren't.
There's beer and more cook books and a coffee shop and a Il Pesce ristorante and La Carne ristorante. I think we're done with our walk.
As I'm leaving I remember the I Panettoni sponge-like cake my friend in Milan had stuck on conveyer belt as I was leaving. "For breakfast," he said. "They only have i panettoni during this time of year."