Brunch at Swiss Corner, Milan
My second ever restaurant review. Lord help me.
The city of Milan is enjoying a modern-day renaissance. The industrial capital of Italy has evolved and transformed itself into a modern hub where everything happens, for everyone. It even managed to make Switzerland exciting by turning the Swiss Chamber of Commerce into a bistrot lounge, it's called the Swiss Corner.
The Lounge is in Via Palestro, a stone's throw from the HQ of 105, the most popular radio station in Italy, and upscale shopping street Via Montenapoleone. It is located on the ground floor of the same building that houses the Swiss Consulate in Milan and it specializes in signature cocktails and modern cuisine, not your usual "cucina italiana".
I had a three-course brunch with street food style appetizer, and then main course and two desserts.
Salmon and cream cheese bagel
One day, I promise, I'm going to learn the difference between bun, slider, bagel and mini burger but until then, I'm going to stick to the menu and tell you that is a mini burger, we'll talk about it in a sec, and this is a bagel.
When I saw it, I assumed it would include salmon and butter but then I actually realized it was cream cheese. I wasn't sure what the difference was so I asked the chef. So butter has more calories, and more fat, than cream cheese and while cream cheese is processed from milk curds after they are separated from whey, butter does not separate curds from the whey at all. Anyway, in Plain English this means that butter is ultimately tastier than cream cheese, but also a lot heavier to digest. Salmon is an oily fish, not exactly neutral in taste either, so salmon + butter works well if that's all you're going to have. Otherwise, you're better off with cream cheese, which is what the chef did. Which worked.
Mini bacon cheeseburger
This is probably street food 101. It's more or less the basic recipe for a cheeseburger, with bacon and cheese and meat, and that's it. Except 75 % smaller.
It is also very dangerous because it tricks your head into thinking "hey, this is light. I'm going to have a dozen more." And then all of a sudden you realize it wasn't light and you've had one too many. I didn't do that, though. I only had one and it's very good. If it weren't for the cheesecake, we'll get to that later, I'd have definitely called this the highlight of the meal.
Pumpkin, crispy bacon and walnut crêpe
This is a crespella, which is more or less the Italian equivalent of crêpe, which is more or less the French equivalent of pancake, except thinner. It's made of eggs and wheat flour and in this particular instance, it is also a saga of calories. It'd be a lot easier to list the things that aren't here. This 4-layer crespella came with five layers of walnuts, including on top of it, along with crispy bacon and parsley. The former made it extra moreish whereas the latter only made it prettier. Parsley is technically food, because the golden rule says everything on the plate must be edible, but in this case you can definitely do without it.
Then, once you factor in the parsley and the crispy bacon and the walnuts and the extra eggs and the decorative sauce you'll find pumpkin cream, which is the sweetest thing in the history of sweet and things. This crespella is good but excessive. There's too much going on, a million different inputs for your taste buds. It also doesn't really know what it wants to be. Is it breakfast? It is lunch? Is it a snack? Lord knows.
Apple pie + cheesecake
Apple pie is not particularly popular in Italy. It's not about provenance because Italians consume abnormal quantities of a lot of things that aren't local like cheeseburgers and Scottish beer for example. I think it's all about balancing different flavours. When it comes to desserts, it is very easy to overdo it because just one extra drop of sugar can ruin everything and apple pie can be quite aggressive, it's sweet on sweet on sweet with added sweetness. And if your menu already includes cheese cream+salmon bagel, a mini cheeseburger and walnut+bacon crêpe, I'm sorry but apple pie shouldn't even be mentioned.
Everyone knows and loves cheesecake. It is the hatchback of desserts, the go-to option when you're all out of ideas. And this is odd, if you think about it, because cheesecake isn't subtle, nor is it particularly easy to prepare and on the other hand, it is very easy to get it wrong and make a mess. In this instance, I'm happy to report that they haven't made a mess, in fact they've created something great.
All four elements were beautifully mixed together. Fresh strawberries on top, strawberry jam, then mascarpone and then of course the base made of crushed cookies. Getting the ingredients right is the easy part, you read the recipe, but getting them to work together is tricky. And they pulled it off.