My first taste of Italy

Heya ! I’m Rachael! I joined Team MYO in February and have been getting to grips with everything MYO. For my first blog, I thought I’d give you my account of our Italian adventure earlier this year.

In March I was fortunate enough to go on a small research trip to Italy. Victoria goes every year to enable her to keep up to date with the latest food trends and she was keen to show me where her business ideas came from. I was very excited as I’ve always wanted to go to Italy and being a pizza fan, I was in my element. The plan was to try and find the best aperitivo which is the main concept of our new van. I don't know how many of you are aware of the aperitivo concept - but it basically includes a drink of your choice and selection of food. This is all included in a set price.The average price was anywhere from 5 - 11 Euros. I couldn’t wait.

We safely landed in Milan airport and were greeted by a warm 17C and sunshine; this was a huge contrast to the miserable, snowy British weather! Getting off the plane is always my favourite part of landing; feeling the sun on my face. Being as white as a sheet; anything above 17C is a heatwave to me! Milian is known as the fashion capital of the world; so really I should have thought ahead and dressed with this in mind, however, a 4.30am wake up meant ‘shove any old clothes on!’ Ah well, let’s hope they didn’t judge!

Milan Cathedral

My highlight was Milan Cathedral. It was absolutely breathtaking. Being a huge fan of gothic architecture; i was completely in my element (which you’ll probably be able to guess from all of the photos I took!) Our first stop of our Milan adventure was Luini Panzerotti; a highly recommended spot. The instructions were to look out for the queues and you’ll find it - vague but accurate it seemed! There were queues going down the street, both ways! I was looking forward to seeing what all the fuss was about. After a lot of indecisiveness, we chose a tomato, pesto and mozzarella panzerotti.

Unfortunately; it wasn’t the best. It was a little dry and luke warm. However, we persevered to find better options. We soon discovered a delicious looking gelateria and had some nutella, pistacchio and chocolate gelato - which we ate in the sunshine, in front of the cathedral.

Our evening’s aim was to hunt out the best aperitivo and Milan did not disappoint. We found a fantastic little aperitivo spot in a very picturesque place.This was a bargain 11 Euros and all you can eat buffet. Now cocktails in England can often be described as overpriced and full of ice. In Italy, they can be described as have one and you’re set for the evening! All you can eat buffets are not normally my thing as I much prefer to be brought my food when i dine out, but this aperitivo spot was absolutely amazing and had a great selection of food.

The second day of our trip was a journey to La Spezia, where i enjoyed my first pizza. I chose ‘La Italy’; and it arrived in the colours of the Italian flag. It had three different layers of pesto, mozzarella and tomato sauce. This was very tasty, but without being biased Victoria has introduced me to a more focaccia based pizza and I do prefer MYOs (brownie points please!) I believe a good pizza should be just as much about the dough as it is the toppings.

After a hearty lunch we headed to the apartment and got ready for our afternoon outing.

Italy has one of the most picturesque railway lines in Europe and there is a coastal walk along this going through the five villages of Cinque Terre. This was one of the most breathtaking walks I have ever been on! We started the walk in Riomaggiore. The whole area is known for its lemons and if you’re a fan of bitter lemon, then you need to try the granita. It’s extremely refreshing after climbing what felt like stairs to heaven!

Day three took us to Genoa; nearly a two hour train journey. Genoa has some extremely picturesque streets and galleries. Although it didn't have the coastal and rustic nature of the Cinqueterre walk - it was still pretty in its own way. As you can see from the photos, we heavily indulged in market street food. Most of this ‘research’ included cakes; my favourite being a nutella doughnut. Delicious! We also made our way through a fair amount of focaccia based pizza.

After a day of eating carbs, we decided to go for some more quadruple strength Italian cocktails. All in the name of research for Monty, of course! Admittedly, I am not a drinker but I was more than up for some inspiration.We tried an Italian favourite - Aperol Spritz and a Tom Collins for me. Neither of them let us down in the strength stakes, so we sipped our way through and stumbled off to find more food.

The aim of us going to Italy is to keep our food and drink as authentic as possible. I enjoyed the whole experience as it really gave me an insight into the aperitivo concept. Food and drink go hand in hand for me; and I feel really inspired to put together our menus for Monty. I feel this summer's going to be one to remember! It’s my first year with Team MYO and we already have a packed calendar with a great variety of events. I’m excited about seeing people’s reactions to our aperitivo concept and to hear thier feedback. Wish us luck!

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