We ended our Friday evening with a concert and dinner for the Italian Botanical Society meetings.
The concert was put on by professional musicians associated with the University of Milan, and consisted of a Mozart concerto and a Brahms concerto. The Mozart was performed by a quartet of 2 violins, 1 viola and a cello, and then they were joined by a Clarinetist for the Brahms piece. They were excellent musicians and very expressive in their music and their posture on the stage. Unfortunately it was quite hot in the room and on the stage and they kept wiping their faces anytime they had a break in the music. One of the girls stopped between movements and put her hair up to get it off of her shoulders. The music was perfect, although I will admit to enjoying the mathematical precision of the Mozart over the craziness of the Brahms!!
The dinner was up a set of stairs and outside on a balcony of the University. The round tables would seat 10 people and each place setting had 4 glasses, 4 forks and 2 knives. It reminded me a lot of our dinners at High Table at Merton College in Oxford.
The appetizer was a buffet of antipasti that included smoked salmon, chicken cutlets, prosciutto, braised vegetables, fruit and an Aubergine (eggplant) souffle. This was served with bottles of white wine.
The first course was a creamy risotto with shrimp…..it was magnificent!!!! It was served with bottles of red wine.
At this point all of the Italians were scandalized because they went straight to deserts and skipped the second course which would normally be fish or meat. We were perfectly happy to skip the last course as we were already full, but it was obvious that there was a breach of protocol here.
Desert was small glasses (think shot glasses) with a custard filling and a very small, cute spoon to eat it with. The vanilla custard had a jelly type layer on top while the chocolate one was spiced with chili powder which gave it a wonderful spicy flavor. We were told that they would often add chili to rich hot chocolate to add to the flavor….we need to try it sometime. This was served with a sparkling white wine similar to champagne.
Now, sometime toward the end of the evening it became obvious that some of the tables had drunk more wine than others as there was a spontaneous chorus of singing and many toasts to the organizers of the conference. We stood around and talked for a long time and then made our way back to the hotel…fortunately only a couple of blocks away.
This evening was fairly dressy and I wore sandals with heels. I quickly learned that I had to be careful walking on the cobblestone streets and particularly careful walking over the street grates!!!!
We have truly in enjoyed our days in Milan, although we are ready to move on to the next phase of the trip. We have noted throughout the time that Milan was almost empty of people and found out that EVERYBODY leaves Milan during the month of August and goes on holiday. As a matter of fact, almost all of Italy takes the month of August off…..there were even some grumblings that this conference was held before the month was over. Apparently next week will be a huge week with every one returning to work and all of the trade shows starting…. I guess it is good that we are leaving.
While here, I have enjoyed looking at the window dressings in the various stores…particularly the food shops. Here are a selection…..
This cheese shop called to me as well……
So, farewell to Milan and onward to Assisi…….