When my husband proposed marriage on the terrace of our Milan apartment 12 years ago, we celebrated our engagement with dinner at Milan’s Cracco-Peck restaurant, which had just opened. Every bite was incredible, and we said that we’d return on our tenth wedding anniversary. Which, as it happens, was this summer.
Apart from a name change (the restaurant dropped the “Peck” as it’s now just Mr. Cracco) the setting was as I’d remembered it: a few large dining spaces, minimalist decor, low lighting, no background music. Not exactly curl-up-by-the-fire cozy, but definitely intimate and comfortable and classy. Patrons seemed an equal mix of business diners and couples. Both service and food were still impeccable, but I enjoyed this meal more than last time, partly because I had more context having now planned many special dinners for Italy trip planning clients; partly because I paid more attention to every bite; and certainly because of the hours logged watching cooking shows since our last visit. We ordered the “celebration 10 year menu” (how could we not!) consisting of the restaurant’s most famous dishes over the past decade, and left wine pairings in the hands of our waiter.
The camera was too bulky to fit into my tiny dinner purse and we tried to keep smartphones off the table, but we did snap a few photos. So without further ado, the highlights…
Insalata russa caramellata
After a plate of savory amuse-bouches (seen in the background of the photo), this was the official first course and ended up being my second favorite dish because it played so well to the senses. Insalata russa is a fairly common northern Italian cold salad made with potatoes, carrots, and often peas, with lots of mayonnaise to hold it all together. But it is usually served like potato salad, in a scoop on a plate, not formed into a patty presented on its end as pictured, and certainly never with a shiny sugar shell. When I picked it up it was dry and smooth but very slightly sticky. Biting into it, the soft insalata russa combined with the crunchy sweet outer coating producing deliciousness on the palate. Somehow, it was soft but not gooey or messy.
Next, arrived …..
Granita al nocino, mandorle e caviale
This was my favorite dish, though the photo doesn’t do the dish justice. The flavor combination was incredible, but the impressive part was the timing of the way the flavors kicked in. Every bite was a symphony in the mouth. You can see from the photo that the olive oil is at the bottom, then the granita ice was spooned on top of that, and finally the caviar was placed on top. The first sensation on the tongue is the chill of the granita, and then the walnut and almond flavors hit. Then the strong caviar flavor floods in and the smooth olive oil finishes the performance.
Marinara di pesce in fogli con verdura croccanti
This dish was delicious and gorgeous. I had never seen fish so thinly sliced, and at first thought it was vegetables. You can see the peas, but apart from that? All cured fish.
Next came a white fish dish with a piece of asparagus, and then this amazing marinated egg yolk, tuorlo d’uovo marinato:
The remaining five dishes, all delicious, included a bite of pork, veal with capers and licorice (anise) and this explode-in-your-mouth mushroom and goat’s milk ravioli, ravioli al latte di capra con funghi alle erbe:
There was also a tiramisu’ that disappeared before I got a photo, and then these beautifully presented dried oranges, pineapple, mango and kiwi arrived with a plate of little cookies.
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