Saturday, 13 June 2009

Shopping in Milan

No not what your thinking, Gucci, Prada or Armani

My kind of shopping was going to be Coop Italia, Carrefour, Auchan, designer McDonald's and Peck all finished off with a pistachio, rum and raisin Gillato.

Each store was a totally different shopping experience and a foodie lovers heaven, from an Eco friendly store 2 floors below ground that include a play area & park on top, to Peck which makes Harrods and Selfridges foodhalls look like any general food store

When i set out a few days ago i started thinking about what i may find different on each trip. You expect to find the layout of store pretty much the same as the previous country especially in Europe, the type of groceries you would not think vary that much, and eating habits would be the almost the same,
Well at this stage of my travels and the further into Europe i go it becomes apparent that it really is only us Brits & the Americans that are into convenience foods / ready meals as we know them. Here in Italy as previously mentioned these do not exist,

The risotto here is King, if you want a quick meal, and rightly so as this needs some degree of skill & time to produce consistently, and the risottos that i have found here in Milan in pouch format are as good as any chef could make.

Still with risotto in mind, if you do want to make yourself, they now provide par cooked Arborio rice and jars of vegetable ingredients that are simply stirred into the risotto whilst preparing, which could be used for many different cuisine applications .

Moving slightly away from risotto but a dish with the same skill level required is Polenta, This is now also making an appearance on the shelves both at the trade shows & stores, Again these come with all the seasonings blended and the consumer just adds water, and in 12 minutes you have a gourmet Polenta for supper.

Also being promoted is a white Polenta that is from the Venice Region,
In the cooking sauces arena ragu and Passata are the two key sauces predominately being used as a base, sauces for one are starting to be featured within this category
Another area that seems to be taking off here is the kit.
Like the UK so far there has only been the El Paso products on sale, but slowly others are beginning to creep in, for example Barilla have launched a pizza kit, along with Carrefour own label and Star. Chinese cuisine here is a very small market but Suzi wan kits are being promoted with own label having a presence. Japanese is the more popular cuisine with sushi kits featuring. Italy is also into cake and desserts in a fairly big way, with Kinder being the biggest player in all stores, Balconi i only found in one store and fairly low key within the fixture. Cake slices and bars seem to be the best sellers followed by whole cake and tortes with fresh patisserie tarts from the in store bakeries. Finally with a fresh batch of products in hand it was now time to check out Milan's finest grocery store Peck.

This well healed store has been serving Milan's elite since 1883 and is something that every foodie should put on their travel map, [unfortunately no pictures allowed]. It has the most impressive array of hams, cheeses, vintage balsamic, pressed oils [which included a fig olive oil] and gourmet ready meals of a quality that you would find in some of the best restaurants around the world.

And to top it all just around the corner at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele where you will find the major fashion houses and not to be outdone, Designer McDonald's, only in Milan could this happen.

Next stop, China- beginning 24Th June

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