The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Milan: Day 6 (The Birthday Party)

They've almost formed a circle.  Aw.
The cake, it is coming

You know you have a great host when you walk into her kitchen and stumble upon the birthing of a custard-based dessert. And by "birthing" I mean your host is putting the dessert together,

Of course, Sara wasn't making a Charlotte Russe for the hell of it, but because she was throwing a birthday party that night (her own, in fact; happy belated birthday!) and needed to make sure there would be plenty of tasty, starvation-preventing food. The Charlotte Russe would be the centerpiece dessert.

adding raspberries get every last bit in there! Sara, KITCHEN MASTERRRR or mistress or something
Thar she goes!

I watched her every move with the stealth of a hippo. Line springform pan with ladyfingers cut to the same height, mix raspberries into the snow-white custardy goo, pour goo into mold, spatula the goo's surface so its nice and even, then pop into the fridge to set. Those are my horribly insubstantial steps for making a Charlotte Russe.

Breakfast time! lips smack
Lip smackingly good

After being treated to a breakfast for breads and jams and things, Kåre and Diana went off to explore the center of Milan (which ended up being not so exciting, or a little too reminiscent of NYC) while Morten and I...

Photo taken by Sara

...geekily surfed the Internet for too many hours.

"What'd you do in Milan, Robyn?"


Yeah. Eat that. Eat it.


Sara fed us at some point during our web surfing spree, which helped keep up our typing and mouse-clicking stamina. Baked carasau bread topped with chunks of tomato, melted gobs of fresh mozzarella, a scattering of basil leaves and chopped onion (or something onion-esque) made for a light, pizza-esque meal. It's probably easy to make—I assume you add some oil and/or salt to the bread besides everything else—but I haven't see carasau bread over here. Shall keep my open. I'm watching you...bread.

meat pate and bread
Meat, MEAT
OOH, tower of meat!
Meat tower

After downing the pizza, we moved onto meat pate, or more specifically terrine lièvre Romarin. Oh, glorious thing, a miniature tower of meat. As much as I love sweets, it might be surprising to hear that I don't especially enjoy sweets in the form of spreadable substances. Jams, nut butters, Nutella-esque things—I'll eat them, but probably in an unexcited manner.

So what is it about meat pate that gives it an eye-widening, droolworthy-status? Is it the 75%+ fat content? Is it that all these tasty ground-up meat bits (what kind of meat bits I don't remember, but there may have been some rabbit) have been left to steep in that fat, resulting in super saturated tasty, salty meatness whose deliciousness is intensified when spread upon the surface of freshly toasted bread? And then your teeth sink through the meat fudge, crunch past the bread's nanometer of toastiness, then descend through the soft wheaty innards and...

It just tastes like awesome. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Unfortunately, you can't make eating meat pate a habit unless you plan on dying prematurely. Methink it's not at the top of "Recommended Foods for Healthy Arteries."

Canned peaches

The ridiculously tasty meat smashings were followed up by equally tasty (although in a different way) canned peaches. Canned peaches? Awesome? These weren't the slightly slimy, too sweet, too mushy orange-yellow peaches that I was accustomed to—they were vibrantly yellow, crisp, not too sweet and had no trace of sliminess. It was a whole new peach eating experience. Sadly, the likelihood that I will ever find a supply of "Le Pesche del Lago di Monate" is about the same as me losing 20 pounds (no cutting off of limbs; that's cheating).

metro station
metro line map
Line 1

Morten and I eventually went into the outside world to join up with Kåre and Diana. The black metro stations in Milan felt very different from the tile-lined stations of NYC. Or the white walled ones in Paris. Or the cramped tunnels of London. Or whatever it was like in Brussels, where my housemate and I ended up being the only two people waiting in the station, which was mightily creepy. I'm semi-fascinated by metro systems around the world and derive some kind of excitement from seeing how this kind of public transportation can have so many different implementations. I also like comparing them to NYC's system so I can come up with more reasons for why NYC's subways suck.

(They're not really that bad as long as you don't end up on a train that reroutes itself and takes you to god knows where. And yes, many lines run 24 hours a day, which is one of the best things about the system as long as you take note of the 500 service changes that occur during the wee hours of the night/morning. But my god, there are some things that would make taking the subway so much easier, like GODDAMN MAPS, those visual aids that let you know where the hell you're going. Could it be that no one involved with the MTA has been to another country and seen all the MAPS most stations put up? In the cars? On the station walls? In the corridor to the platform? I might just be a dumbass, but NYC's subway system is so far the most confusing one I've ever taken. And naming the lines all kinds of seemingly random numbers and letters and colors does not help. Be consistent for god's sake. I half expect shapes and symbols to be used for future lines. Or animals. "OHH, I HAVE TO CATCH THE SQUIRREL TRAIN."

Okay, I'm done sounding insane. For now. Oh wait, it's gonna start again soon, right after this closing parenthesis.)

Walking around

We went to the mega crowded shopping area by the Duomo so that Morten and Kåre could buy some clothing. Is it funny that the guys did all the shopping (at H&M and Zara) while the girls waited idly by?

standing around
Exposure = DENIED
table is ready for eatings!
Table with foods!

When we got back to party central (aka Sara's apartment) Morten and Kåre donned their new purchases, Diana changed into a black dress and I...did nothing. Although I had packed a black dress "just in case," I failed to bring it from Bologna. Crap. I should probably wear things like dresses more often, even if there is no special occasion (they sure are comfier than pants), but I'm not used to it. I didn't even start wearing skirts until I was released from the shackles of high school, at which point I realized, "Man these things are freakin' comfy, WHY DIDN'T I DO THIS EARLIER?"

OMG it's full of DELCIOUS and beauty

We hobbled around the apartment and munched on potato chips as a random playlist of party-appropriate songs escaped the stereo speakers until the other guests (known as Sara's Posse of Cool People) started to arrive, at which point we started munching on all the other foods. Sara's fresh-from-the-oven olive oil infused and salt-kissed foccacia nearly made me weep, it was so good. So instead of weeping I just went, "OH MY GOD, THIS IS SO GOOD." I tell it like it is, no subtlety required. Other foodstuffs included various quiches (spinach, something with meat, and something else!), olives, dry sausage, and other things resulting in much more food than we could actually eat.

oo, let's eat it
Close up

The main course was Sara's secret recipe lasagna. Or not a secret, but I'm calling it a secret since I don't know what the recipe is. It was a little looser than she had expected it to be, but still resulted in a smiling tummy. You just can't go wrong with sheets of pasta, ground meat bits, tomato sauce and cheese. That's four food groups in one bite!

As we lazily sat on the couch (an activity that I'm quite the fan of) while talking and drinking mostly alcoholic beverages—except for Diana and me who prefer plain old H20—a hand reached down from above in the direction of Diana's arm.

"You have to dance!" Dino, Sara's exuberant, very friendly and very Italian (don't ask me what that means; just go with it) friend, had been bopping around to the music with some of Sara's more energetic friends and couldn't ignore the stagnant humans on the couch. Diana was his first victim.

"Oh, no no no..." started Diana, shaking her head, eyes full of fright. Panic time.

"Ohhh no no no, you must dance!" With a wide smile (his default facial expression, I'll admit), he grabbed hold of her arm. Like hell she was going to escape—skinny Asian girl versus tall, strong Italian man, anyone? A spark of excitement formed in my chest at the sight of Diana being whisked away by this charming Italian fellow. In my nearly 10 years of knowing Diana, neither of us had ever seen the other one dance. Probably for the best. We wouldn't dare ruin our reputations of "people who don't dance in public."

So, joining the small throng of dancers in the middle of the living room, they danced. It was adorable. I looked at them without a care in the world. Until...

"You have to dance too, you know!" announced Kåre as he grabbed my arm.

"WHAT THE FUH I DO WUT NOW?" I didn't say that aloud. Oh, what ineloquences my mind creates. Fueled by lolcat speech, no doubt. Instead, while putting on my best, "MRAHAR, NO LIKEY THE DANCEY!" face, I tried to wring free of his grip, which resulted in failure. Seeing how—against all odds and possibly interfering with the alignment of the planets—Diana was made to dance, I realized that I had to ignore my inhibitions and follow through with Kåre's crazy scheme.

He started doing a dance that someone resembled the robot, except it wasn't.

"That's...DRUNKBOT!" I excitedly exclaimed. He was very good at the drunkbot.

I don't know how to dance at all, but movement did occur and sweat poured forth from my pores. I was dancing! Horribly! But no one cared. Sara's husband Patrice, usually a rather quiet and subdued fellow, was dancing up a storm, a dance that could've been the cousin of the drunkbot, like drunkbot mixed with a pogo stick. Even more so because he was a little tipsy. ;)

At some point the drunkbot turned into something involving twirling, something that probably has a real name. Kåre attempted to teach me this "take a few steps, then twirl!" business, but I twirled a bit too far.

"You're supposed, stop at this point," he said while halting my human tornado-esque torque. But that was the best part! The twirling! I probably over-twirled a few times on purpose.

After Kåre had his fill of dancing thing, I thought I was also free to return to my couch potato lifestyle.

But Dino didn't agree.

a real smile, holy beep! happy?  Or something? blurry dance dance dance
You could almost make this into a flipbook

How can anyone refuse Dino's request/insistence to dance? It's nearly impossible due to a mixture of Italian charm and kung-fu grip. It's a good thing my dancing was only captured in photos—video would've been disastrous.

I'm glad I was forced to leave the comfort of the couch in exchange for a brief bout of failing arms and legs. Really. I doubt it'll happen again anytime soon.

ready to lift lift the metal barrier! ready to serve
It's ready!
Charlotte innards

Sara's Charlotte Russe, the thing I had been looking forward to all night to eat, was ready for devouring. The outer ring of the pan was carefully lifted to reveal a perfect fence of ladyfingers holding in a berry-laden center of creamy panna cotta-like innards. (Is a Charlotte Russe pretty much like a ginormous panna cotta? Or a variation of it? That could explain why I like it so much.) It was easy to cut the cake; one ladyfinger per slice! The filling was noticeably low on sweetness, but not in a bad way. Without excess sugar the natural sweetness of berries and cream came through, with an occasional sweet crunch from the ladyfingers. It was refreshing and almost dangerously easy to eat in large quantities.

eating Pierre Herme macarons!
who brought PH maccies?

But there were more sweets. More. In the form of macarons straight from Paris's Pierre Hermé and Ladurée, HOLY SHITBALLS OF FIRE! Sara, aka Ms. Adventures in Italy, was the macaron fairy of the night as she had just come back from a trip to Paris and didn't want to let the goodies go to waste. Kitchen Pantry Sara and I made no attempt to hide our glee and gave some shout of excitement like, "OMGOMGOMG MACARONS YOU BROUGHT THEM."

Are Sara and Sara adorable when they eat macarons? I should've made it a point to take photos of more of my friends while eating macarons. They express such happiness only exceeded by that portrayed in jumping photos.

By the way, Adventures in Italy Sara is all kinds of awesome. It was great to finally meet the woman behind Tour Del Gelato. ;)

sitting around
Party animals, winding down
mm, wine!
Mm, wine

The rest of the night was more laid back as the guests had filled themselves with food and wine. Lots of wine.

a reflector! there's cookware inside
Opening gifts

We gathered round the living room to watch Sara open her gifts and hear her squeals of delight. The more squeal-worthy gift was the Le Crueset Round French Oven, a beautiful bright orange pot that radiated with the deliciousness of things to come. Seriously, that thing GLOWS. Or maybe that was Sara, glowing with happiness.

She was also excited by her new reflector, as shown through her repeated re-folding and whipping out-ing of the disc.

Morten laughs....
Laugh it up...

I grabbed Morten's phone as he was exchanging Norwegian text messages with Giso (whom Diana and I stayed with on our trip to Norway). Since I couldn't understand anything there was obviously no harm in letting me read the messages and portray my complete lack of Norwegian phonetics by mangling the pronunciation of everything, even a word as simple as "Jeg" (Norweigian for "I," which is pronounced like, "Yay"...seriously, wtf).

Morten and Kåre got a huge kick out of my Americanized Norwegian.

After Sara's guests left, there were only six sleepy and partially inebriated people (we gals don't drink much...or maybe I shouldn't speak for Sara!) left in the apartment. The men drank some more while the rest of us continued sitting and talking about the successful party, perhaps in a slightly dazed state.

I shall leave you with this.

go to sleep little children
Go to sleep, children!

I hope Morten and Kåre don't mind. Their adorable-ness cannot be contained.

Help Sara!

If anyone out there drinks Fernet Branca, contact Ms Adventures in Italy! She's doing some research on the project and would like to talk to any drinkers. If you don't know what it is (like me), you probably don't drink it. YEAH!


eatyourheartout / October 7, 2007 3:26 PM

Oh how can I forget Dino? I think this evening with Sara & Her Posse of Coolness made Milan more entertaining than its streets.

I remember drunkbot!

Tina / October 7, 2007 3:45 PM

OMG, I want the Charlotte Russe! It looks so pretty and delicious.

I think a box of PH or Laudree maccies brings happiness and world peace if everyone in the world ate one...or at least a moment of it.

You've danced! Yay? Heck, I would be the wallflower, too, unless coerced to do so. Hehe, drunkbot. That's funneh.

Kathy / October 7, 2007 7:23 PM

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post! Especially the pictures of you dancing - you look so happy! :) And all the food you had that night - looks better than anything from a restaurant. Sigh. Food really is a labor of love! :)

Mickjagger / October 7, 2007 8:38 PM

Noooo don't say pâtés are so bad for our health! At least not all pâtés! The one with duck fat are allright, they are a lot more healthier, remember the "french paradox" with those people in the south-west of France eating their confit and foie gras and dying at quite respectable ages ;)
OK on a daily basis 2 times a day, it's a bit more dangerous, let's admit it!
Woah I'm a fan of the Charlotte pictures, home made but so very pretty!

Daisy / October 8, 2007 7:24 AM

This post really made me laugh. A lot.

It's great you had a fun time! And it all looked so cool.

I know what you mean about dancing; I have to be pulled into it myself. You guys look so cute in the photos though.

Sara, Ms. Adventures in Italy / October 8, 2007 10:41 AM

Thanks, girl! That was a lot of fun that night (even tho the pic of me is heinous) and I'm glad you were able to adopt the macarons as my week in France left me a bit, um, full of chocolate and sweet things and I didn't want to waste them!

Thanks for the help re: Fernet Branca. We'll have to try some together.

roboppy / October 8, 2007 2:17 PM

Diana: Sara said that she sent Dino the link to this post.


Tina: I could be easily lured to dance by the prospect of MACARONS. (Well, PH or Laduree ones.)

Kathy: I was happy! Wee! Had to burn off some calories from the food anyway. I was so tired after dancing, even if it was for like..5 minutes. Seriously. :P

Yann: YOU ARE THE FRENCH PARADOX! You and your super high metabolism and...stuff...! I probably eat more than you do, eh?

If I moved to the south of France and ate all their food, I think I would become fat...because God hates me.

Sara: I gotta know his reaction. ;D

Daisy: LAUGHTER! That is the first reaction I try to provoke. And then hunger. Or ...something like that.

Katie: PH, ALL THE WAY. Laduree might be...second best? Their caramel is especially nice since they fill it with caramel, not caramel-flavored cream. But keep in mind that PH started at Laduree and then went off to do his own thing because he's super awesome.

Sara: NOO it is a cute pic! Everyone was just a little dazed...or full of alcohol...

Always happy to be a macaron disposal unit.

Annie / October 8, 2007 5:38 PM

I am a dirty-minded old woman. Dino and the Weegie Boys looked so much yummier than the Charlotte Russe. Which did not, of course, look bad at all.

dana / October 8, 2007 7:04 PM

Wow wow wow. I swear Robyn, if you write a travelogue, I'd buy it! Your writing gives me the warm and fuzzies.

Mahar / October 8, 2007 9:03 PM

This proves it...your friends are cute, Robyn. CUTE. CUTE. CUTE. HAWT even.

So cute.

Oh, and the food pics were yummy. But not as yummy as the boys.

Hahaha, I hope they don't mind being objectified!

Cat / October 8, 2007 10:53 PM

I was just wondering if you'd ever tried Luxemburgerlis before? The Swiss chocolatier Sprungli does them in about 12 different flavours, and they're much like your beloved macarons, only baby-sized versions with a thicker layer happiness-inducing cream!

Would be happy to send you some photos to compare if you'd like! =)

Steph / October 9, 2007 12:57 AM

Because I went to culinary school for pastry, everyone assumes that I'll drop whatever I'm doing to bake something for them. And I usually do, if given enough time to deliver things that aren't raw in the center.

That being said, on my birthday this year, my mother asked me, "So what kind of cake are you going to make??" To which I replied, "You've got to be kidding me -- I have to make MY OWN freaking birthday cake??!??" Blasphemy. Blasphemy, I tell you!

As for dancing, it's always more fun with an exotic European man. Especially if they dip you - those are effing awesome. And speaking of European men... is Morten single?? ;)

- S

roboppy / October 9, 2007 1:57 AM

Susannah: I'm glad someone noticed! :)


You say the greatest things.

Dana: You would exchange monies for my writing?! ;)

Oooh. ...Well yes, I would love to write a travelogue someday. Sooomeday.

For the warm and fuzzies.

Mahar: It's true, my friends possess much cuteness with a dash of hawtness. ;) It's distracting!

I don't think my friends mind the objectification. Hopefully their egos won't explode!

Cat: I actually have eaten them once! ...Meaning I ate one. And it was just by luck; a friend of a friend had just come back from Zurich and was giving them out. Ooh. I remember it was very nice, like a light baby version of a macaron. The filling was much softer and I had to pop the whole thing in my mouth at once!

Steph: Okay, if my mum asked me to make my own cake, I'd be like....NO. -__- It's different if you decide to make it for your own party!

Ah, I don't think I was dipped! Or was I? (scratches head) Next time!

Morten is happily taken, methinks. ;) But I'm sure he is flattered. AREN'T YOU, MORTEN?! EVERYONE LOOOVES YOUUU!!!

On that note, KARE IS MIIINE! Even if he doesn't know it yet. Luckily for him, he is tucked far away in Norway! ;D

Mahar / October 9, 2007 3:22 AM

You do know what this means, right?

This have to come here.

So that I can meet all your cute friends. And eat all the yummy food of course. Yummy, yummy food. Eaten by Robyn. And Co. Yesssss...I mean, doesn't that sound good?

I've been bugging you to go to Manila for years now. It's time to capitulate. :P

mickjagger / October 9, 2007 11:29 AM

Robyn: Yeah I probably don't eat that much (except a huge amount of Pepitos, Granolas and pistachios)... But pastries temptations are a bit far away in Versailles or Paris, that saves me :p

dana / October 9, 2007 3:52 PM

haha. Yeah, if push came to shove, I guess I'll pony up for a printed version of your eatins'. I dunno, I see at least two bloggers getting book deals (AG and C&Z), so why shouldn't you?

Mila / October 9, 2007 10:28 PM

Oh Robyn, yes the boys look so cute tucked in. Plus who can resist the food photos, cakes, macaroons, then you dancing.
But I especially agree with your issue over subways! I think the nicest subway in the US is the one in DC. It's easy to use and clean and has that really long escalator and clean and well, i'm a big supporter of clean. NY's subway is always interesting but stressful and so not clean. At least not when you compare it to DC.
Come to Asia soon, and we can ride the subways - I like Singapore's (yes, me and my clean train obsession), but HK is fun too. I also like all the food items sold at the kiosks along the Bangkok light rail system (above ground, not underground); food tripping and subway riding. Sad to say that Manila's rail system is even worse than NY's so let's not try those trains. But food, come for the food.

CL / October 10, 2007 6:00 AM

I second Mahar's comment. Manila tastiness knows no bounds (and we were only there for such a short period!)--where else can you make a meal of roast suckling pig and macarons?

mia / October 10, 2007 7:34 AM

Um... we'd be hatin' ya a lot less if there was a place to post comments on TODAY's entry ::laughing::

Seriously. I'm a long time lurker but I LOVE your blog. SO cool that you have so many good friends and you just get out there, jump for the fun of it and enjoy every little bit of living life that you can.

Amen sistah :)

roboppy / October 10, 2007 12:40 PM

Mahar: I DO want to go over there! Don't think I don't wanna!

It's kind far though. :(

I dunno when I can vacate again. :(

I also want to go back to Norway...soon...

Mila: I rode the DC one once. HOLY. CRAP. That's another dimension of subway-ness. The cars were so...nice. The stations freaked me out with their dim lighting (I felt like I was in an underground lair) but besides that, quite nice.

I need to try the Taipei metro again. Last time I was there it wasn't all built yet and I had to take the bus a lot. I'd love to check out HK! And Singapore! AND BOOP BOOP EVERYTHING!

CL Oh my gawd, what a combination. You're tempting mee...

Mia: That other entry didn't seem very comment worthy! But okay. Heh.

Thanks for reading my blog! I need more jumping photos, don't let me forget! I keep missing my chances...

Lore / February 19, 2010 9:19 AM

Next time you came in Italy i could be your supplier for Le Pesche del Lago di Monate.
My family produce this peaches from about 50 years,and probably the one you eat in Milan was produced by us.
Glad you like them :)

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