24 October 2012

n.d.p. in milan: bar basso

Seeking to wring every last drink out of my brief stay in Milan, I arranged to meet my friend and host M for last call at Bar Basso, a proudly classic, slightly hokey cocktail bar famous for being the birthplace of possibly my favorite cocktail, the Negroni Sbagliato, or wrong Negroni.

The Negroni Sbagliato is simply a Negroni made with prosecco instead of gin. Just Campari, dry vermouth, and prosecco. I was introduced to the drink just a few years ago at a restaurant called Dell'Anima in the West Village, whose proprietor Joe Campanale has had great success with a variation involving roasted orange.

The cocktail's genesis story - all successful cocktails have at least one - is that Bar Basso's proprietor's father was mixing a Negroni and grabbed the wrong bottle, presumably realising his error when the ostensible gin bubbled and fizzed. The cocktail thus born is buoyant, bitter, immensely refreshing, and notably less inebriating than a classic Negroni, therefore ideally suited to endless aperitivo hours. It's also completely idiot-proof, with the exception of one time in Paris when I received it in a piddling frouffy champagne flute, which seemed gravely wrong at the time. Then again, before visiting Bar Basso and seeing how a Negroni Sbagliato was served by its originators, how was I to know ?

19 October 2012

pierre jancou in cdg homme plus, f/w 2000

As a sort of addendum to my post on Pierre Jancou's splendid new cave-à-manger from earlier this week, I thought I'd share a lesser-known aspect of Jancou's admirable career. 

During our first conversation, a little over a year ago, I happened to mention that I work for a fashion company. Jancou was familiar with the brand - because he'd modeled in one of the same company's runway shows a few years back. 

I remember finding it all a marvelous coincidence. Then, perhaps distracted by the wine that evening, I forgot all about it. But just the other day it finally occurred to me to look around for the images, and, voilà.

15 October 2012

gem-laden: vivant cave, 75010

When serial-restaurateur and natural wine authority Pierre Jancou first informed me a few months back that he'd be changing the concept of his project Vivant to its current incarnation, the pricier and more ambitious Vivant Table, he'd been careful to mention that nextdoor he'd soon be opening a more informal Vivant wine bar. My first question for him was whether he really meant a wine bar, or whether in fact it would be yet another cave-à-manger restauranty sort of thing.

As he readily admitted then, it's a cave-à-manger restauranty sort of thing. In fact, much to the relief of anyone devoted to the old Vivant, Vivant Cave (as he's calling the new cave-à-manger) is basically a whittled down version of the original, just with a beefed up épicerie component where Jancou intends to sell many of the ingredients his kitchens employ. There's half the seating, half the menu (prepped in the Vivant Table kitchen and finished in the Cave), and, interestingly, no reservations.

It's a good thing the bar is comfy.

11 October 2012

n.d.p. in milan: il kiosko

My visit to Milan this past spring was so cursory that it should not reflect poorly upon the city's dining scene if I say that my best meal there occurred on a traffic island.

Il Kiosko is what it says it is: a kiosk selling fish in the Piazza XXIV Maggio. In addition to supplying home chefs, Il Kiosko serves fritto misto and crudo fresh from the riviera to the aperitivo crowd around the canals. There are high tables, and benches if you arrive early enough. If you can ignore the car exhaust, it's a very inviting place to snack.

I'd suggest the car exhaust even adds something - an enlivening contrast to the sterile environments in which one customarily consumes raw fish. I can report that my friend M and I definitely felt like righteous urban pre-Prometheans, standing there on the curbside, tearing into the raw slivers we'd just seen nicked from the belly of the whole damn fish.

09 October 2012

n.d.p. in milan: peck

As I poked around Peck I tried to take a couple pics. Got scolded. Apparently Peck - an historical Milanese fine food emporium - is as famous for its image control as it is for its vast stores of wine, olive oil, and ham.

It's a little baffling. Peck has neither the design elements nor the security risks that might warrant overzealous image control. It's a fine food shop, not a museum, not an embassy. Some fine food shops fulfill a quasi-ambassadorial role, it's true: think Turin's Eataly. But in comparison to the grandiosity and festival atmosphere of that place, Peck seemed a bit quaint, even at 3500m2 over three floors. The short young clerk who instructed me not to take pictures had been the same one who'd shadowed me as I perused the wine racks of Peck's basement level, offering little in the way of advice.

This happened to suit me fine, as I didn't need any. We had 20 minutes to kill in central Milan after lunch, and my friends M and V kindly indulged my desire to spend it all perusing shelves of Italian wine classics. In retrospect this may have been a mistake, since it meant that during our perambulations throughout the city later that day I was burdened with numerous cult-status bottles I'd been unable to resist.