The wanderer returns


It has been a mighty busy few months, so by the time my holiday finally came around, it was fair to say I was ready for it. Having no preconceptions or expectations of a particular location always helps. In our case, we had no idea what we were going to, so it really was a case of displaying endless amounts of optimism, in the hope that this would have some sort of cosmic significance in relation to our destination.

As we hopped aboard the bus from Milan to Lugano, it was hard to anticipate anything as we were lost in the beauty of the surrounding landscape. As we drove through Lake Como, I kept my fingers and toes firmly crossed that Lugano would deliver some of what I had just witnessed by the banks of that beautiful lake. And as the bus came to a stop, I turned to my right, only to be confronted by a view that assured me that I had done good.

After we had dropped our bulging suitcases off at our new digs for the week, we ventured seaward in search of something equally as important as our location. With food being such a big part of my life, and so far today’s airport exploits had far from satisfied, I was eager to get my teeth into some of what Lugano had to offer. With fabulous looking eateries sprawled across the water front, it was hard to choose from the endless menus, offering traditional stone baked pizzas, and fresh seafood. On the first night, I opted for my all time favourite dish, spaghetti with clams, garlic and chilli. It was so good, I’m convinced I can still taste it now. Rob opted to start off his holiday by chomping his way through his favourite dish, a Margherita pizza. Unfortunately, the camera was still hiding away in the corner of my suitcase, resulting in no photographic memories of this meal. In hindsight, this is possibly a good thing, as looking at that meal day in day out would be rather torturous.

The remainder of our time in Lugano was spent floating from bistro, to bar, to restaurant, where we thoroughly acquainted ourselves with the startling local cuisine. From a lunchtime eatery on the water, to a luxurious restaurant on a hilltop, here are just a few pictures of what Lugano had to offer.

Sundried tomato risotto

Brown pasta with prawns and courgette

A favourite deli amongst locals

Delicious fresh sandwiches

Fresh fruit at a local market

Fresh mortadella for sandwiches

Pasta with clams

Pizza Margherita

Leaving Lugano was hard, and I was surprised at how attached I had come to it over the space of six days. But as Milan beckoned, I became excited about other aspects of the world’s fashion capital, for that reason and that reason alone. As our purses were now rather light, my assumption was that our eating habits across our 24 hour stint in Milan would be modest to say the least. Upon arriving at Piazza Duomo, I was kicking myself for forgetting the splendour that is Milanese cuisine, and having just come from Switzerland, the prices attached to any given menu were surprisingly refreshing.

Having visited Milan before on a number of occasions, I knew what I wanted to show my partner in crime, a Milanese novice, and how little time we had to cram everything in. As we wandered around the Duomo, taking in its splendour, I found myself in familiar territory once more, with my tummy rumbling, asking to be fed. As we moved onto the arcade, I remembered myself as a child, gazing longingly at the Louis Vuitton shops, and the restaurants that saddled either side. Eating in these restaurants was always unattainable, and I had assumed due to their surroundings that their prices would reflect the designer handbags being purchased next door. As I walked by, staring longingly at a plate of ravioli that a gentleman was devouring, alongside what I could only assume was a luxurious glass of Barolo, I decided eating there may well be the best meal of my life. As I examined the menu, I found my mouth had all of a sudden assumed its own identity and before I knew it we were sitting at a table adorned with fresh flowers and white linen table cloths, watching Milan’s world of commerce walk by, enjoying their lunch hour. After we toasted our holiday with a glass of prosecco, I became overbearingly gleeful, I really could not believe where I was.

The problem with realising a dream is that it so often disappoints. It had always been a rather fantastic notion of mine to eat in Ristorante Biffi, but never in my wildest dreams did I think it would happen. But as my ravioli arrived, I began to make peace with the fact that I was there, in the experience, eating the best ravioli I had ever had. With very little conversation, I savoured every moment of this delectable meal. Rob, was experiencing a very similar notion, with him opting for a modest spaghetti dish, flavoured solely with the Italian staples of tomatoes and basil.

Spaghetti with tomatoes and basil

Ravioli with meat sauce

After devouring such a beautiful meal, the afternoon was reserved for a meander round the shops and of course a little shopping. This spilled nicely onto a catch up with an old friend, who has thoroughly adopted the Milanese way of life. We met her for the very traditional Italian aperitivo at a bar in the fashionable Brera district of Milan. Here, we successfully sampled a range of fish, pasta and vegetables, alongside a drink for the incredibly reasonable fee of 8 euros. The notion of aperitivo in Italy, is comparable to that of the Spanish Tapas, accept with solely Italian culinary offerings.

As you would expect from a nation that is renowned for its food, our experience in both Lugano and Milan was incredible. Not only was the quality impressive and the food impossibly fresh, we enjoyed every mouthful, and has given me renewed vigour for my blog and food in general. I now can’t wait for even more cooking and tasting!