Today I’m bringing you one of my absolute favourite recipes – risotto alla milanese. I wrote this recipe for a guest post on Bistropop a while back, but it’s so perfect for a crisp late November evening that I want to share it with you all now. My usual ramblings about Verona will return later this week, I promise. This risotto, rich with bone marrow and butter, has been fundamental to my understanding of Italy for as long as I can remember. As a food-obsessed teenager I would flick through the one recipe book that was always propped open on our kitchen worktop – Delia’s Complete Cookery Course. Among the instructions for making pancakes and sponge cakes, there was a recipe for Risotto alla Milanese. I was enchanted by that sunflower yellow bowl of rice.
I was planning to write about sausages and beans, but then I remembered that I haven’t properly told you about Verona. About the way the crisp morning air nips at my fingers as I cycle to my Italian class (late, of course), or how the narrow streets ripple with life, and music, and spritz-drinking revellers on a Saturday evening. Verona is perhaps the first foreign city I’ve really lived in. I lived the others – Venice, Madrid, Rome – as a friendless and aimless au pair, held back by having far too much time to do very little. This time’s it’s different. I have a heavy workload (pitches are coming out of my ears), my own poky apartment, Italian classes to attend, and at least one friend. I’m even going to the cobbler this afternoon to get my shoes reheeled, if that doesn’t mean I’m actually living here I don’t know what does.
The Venetian island of Torcello has 11 inhabitants. Last year there were 16, but then Carmen’s cousins upped sticks and moved to Burano. Apparently they didn’t have a boat – problematic on an island where the local amenities consist of a couple of restaurants and a Byzantine cathedral (beautiful, I might add, but not much cop when it comes to the weekly shop). “When Stefano and I got married he told me he wanted to move to Torcello. I refused,” Carmen tells me as she moors the boat. But despite not living on the Venetian island themselves, Stefano and Carmen are its biggest fans.