Milan is currently hosting the world expo with the theme of Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life until October 31, 2015. This was actually my second world expo as I was able to visit the Shanghai World Expo back in 2010. At the expo, each participating country develops a pavilion, which helps to showcase the country’s culture and highlight the expo’s theme. It’s a unique opportunity to see some cool architecture as some countries get really creative with their pavilions.
Expo Entrance Line
I’m not going to lie. Visiting the expo is like visiting Disneyland. Most of the popular pavilions have long lines and you feel like you’re waiting in line for a ride. Compound that with the summer heat and you have a long day ahead of you. It’s definitely worth visiting, but I recommend trying to go on a weekday or even doing the after 7pm night tickets (which are also cheaper). My friend and I went on a Sunday, arrived at 10:30am (expo opens at 10am) and we had to wait an hour just to pass through security.
Top left (clockwise): China Pavilion; Ecuador Pavilion, Vietnam Pavilion; and Holland Pavilion
Of the different countries we visited, I really liked Brazil and Holland. Brazil has an impressive two-story pavilion where the upper level is a giant net that you walk across. I felt like Holland really embraced the food theme because they did a bunch of street carts with Dutch snacks. Italy also had a nice section because each province had its own stand, highlighting the local food and produce from the region.
America Pavilion and Food Truck Central
It probably sounds silly that I ended up eating at USA’s Food Truck Nation stop, but I don’t feel as guilty since I only get to go back to the States once a year. My friend got a cheeseburger and I ordered a New England-style lobster roll. The cheeseburger wasn’t impressive (dry), but the lobster roll was amazing. The bread was a nice soft roll, which was buttered, and filled with fresh lobster. It totally hit the spot, making me a little less homesick.
So is the world expo worth visiting? Yes, I would definitely say it’s worth visiting if you’re in the Northern Italy area. But make sure you wear comfortable shoes, pack a bottle of water and be prepared to wait in some long lines.
This summer was quite busy with two trips to Italy (one for work and one for play) and so there’s plenty of delicious Milan street eats to share! Probably one of my favorite gelato shops is Cioccolati Italiani (Via San Raffaele 6), which is right behind Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The best part about this place is that you can choose a flavor of melted chocolate (white, milk or dark) to add to your cone. Talk about the best idea ever! It reminded me of being a kid and eating a Nestle Drumstick and having the last bite be filled with delectable chocolate. While they are famous for their chocolate flavors, I find them too rich (it was the first time I couldn’t finish my gelato). I definitely prefer the fruit and yogurt or fruit and fior di latte combination.
Right across the street from Cioccolati Italiani is the famous Luini Panzerotti (Via Santa Radegonda,16). Panzerotti is basically a mini calzone but with a more fluffy dough. Luini offers sweet and salty panzerotti that are either baked or fried. My friend and I ordered one fried ham and mozzarella and one ricotta and cheese. The sweet one did not do much for me because they’re baked and with a more cookie-like dough. The savory one was definitely more promising, but I almost wish they could be served hotter and fresher. With a huge line out the door, they already have them prepared and in a glass case so I can understand wanting to move the line quickly. Considering the hype, it was a little disappointing. I’d recommend saving more room in your stomach for gelato.
One of the best things that I ate was the deep dish pizza at Spontini (Via Santa Radegonda 11). There are quite a few of them in Milan, but the one I ate at was also close to Luini. This pizzeria is super casual and only has standing tables to eat at. They only offer three types of pizza, but it’s reasonably priced at about 3-5 EUR/piece. I loved this pizza and it’s piled high with fresh tomato sauce and LOTS of cheese.
Last month, I had a business trip to Turin and Milan, Italy. While it was a jam-packed and busy trip, there was still plenty of time to enjoy the magnificent food in Italy. I’ll start with highlights from Milan.
Trattoria del Pescatore in Milan
One of my Italian colleagues is also a big foodie and he had recommended a couple of restaurants in Milan. He raved about Trattoria del Pescatore (Via Atto Vannucci, 5). I ended up eating there last minute and I kept calling in hopes of making a lunch reservation. Since they didn’t pick up the phone, I showed up right when they opened at 12:30pm (hence the photo of an empty restaurant). The restaurant owners and waiters were so kind to me and gave me a corner seat. I ordered the bottarga (salted cured roe) and clams spaghetti and Catalan-style lobster. The lobster is not for the faint of heart. It’s definitely a lot of work to eat. I rolled up my sleeves, used my lobster cracker and dug in with my fingers. While the lobster flesh was incredibly tasty, it was much smaller than I expected and expensive. I’d gladly go back and try other dishes. Reservations are an absolute must. The place was packed and they had to turn people away. I really enjoyed the atmosphere because the customers were all locals and a lot of them were regulars. It was really fun to watch the interaction of the staff with some of their most loyal customers.
Giulio Pane e Ojo in Milan
Giulio Pane e Ojo (Via Ludovico Muratori, 10) was also recommended to me for their Roman-style food. It was a really quaint restaurant and extremely popular. I enjoyed a delicious bucatini with a slightly spicy tomato sauce with slices of pancetta and a beautiful medium-rare steak. I basically ate red meat every chance I could get since the steak in China is so expensive. Giulio Pane e Ojo must be written up in a lot of tourist reviews because the entire restaurant was foreigners. Next to me was a Russian couple, across from me was British couple and on the other side of the room was a table full of Americans. It didn’t quite have that same local Italian feel that Trattoria del Pescatore had.
Il Giardino dei Segreti in Milan
I’ve written about Il Giardino de Segreti (Via Pasquale Sottocorno, 17) before, but I had to mention it again. It was the best meal I had in Milan and it was just as good as I remembered. It’s the best bottarga spaghetti I’ve ever had and the tagliata (rare meat) was amazing. The tagliata is very thinly sliced beef and they serve it rare. I made the mistake of ordering it medium rare. Since the plate it’s served on is very hot, the beef actually continues to cook after being served. So my medium rare became too well-done for my taste. It’s better to just let them serve it their classic house style.
March was a busy month in terms of travel. For ESSEC’s MBA in International Luxury Brand Management, we had field trips to Hong Kong, Dubai and now Milan and Florence. It was incredible to visit all of these cities, meet people from different companies, and learn about the luxury industry in different regions. We even got to visit the Zegna textile factory and the Gucci shoe factory. I thought I’d share a few photos from the packed week in Italy.
Dinner at Il Giardino dei Segreti
Our first night in Milan, we had an amazing meal at Il Giardino dei Segreti. I had tagliata (thin cut rare beef) and spaghetti alla bottarga (spaghetti with fish roe) for the first time. They were both incredible and I would highly recommend the restaurant for an authentic, casual eatery.