It is a few years since I was last in Milan and then only for a short stay so I only remembered, and just in a gossamer-fine way, some of the city’s most famous set pieces: The Duomo, La Scala and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle. As I was unsure of how to negotiate the city’s labyrinth of streets and as I was heading into Milan for just a day from my base on the shores of scenic Lake Como I thought that it was best to decide in advance exactly where I was going so I could make the optimum use of my time and to avoid ambulating around the city like an aimlessly spinning top.
So, I determined that the café in Peck, the fancy-pants grocery store on the Via Spadari in the centre of the city, was where I would stop for morning coffee. The café is on the first floor and a small section of it was open to serve breakfast and morning coffees. As you might expect in this fashion-laden city the café at Peck is a stylish place. There are comfortable wicker chairs surrounding round tables smothered with whiter than white cloths on top of which are: vases filled with single red roses, pristine white cloth napkins, and cutlery that felt properly heavy. The decor is a mix of shiny floor tiles, blackened round pillars, a massive skylight underhung with a flock of suitably tasteful black-shaded lights, a counter and bar area that mixes wood and marble, and masses of white orchids dotted about the place.
I had a latte and rather a lot of biscuits; I had actually wanted just a couple of said biscuits but as my Italian is non existent I ended up getting an artfully arranged selection served on a miniature set of silver tired plates. These were good. And the coffee? Well it too was good but maybe it was because my expectations were higher than the tallest of the Duomo’s spires that I was just a tad disappointed. I had expected the nectar of the gods – don’t get me wrong the coffee was much more that decent just not utterly sublime.
If you are in Milan and if you are in any way interested in food and wine Peck is so worth a visit. In the basement there is a very, very serious wine shop. Should your heart’s desire be a half case of Petrus 1986 or a Nebuchandnezzar (15 litre bottle) of non- vintage Pol Roger champagne you can buy them here but only if you are prepared to pony up €10,200 and €1,500 respectively! Reassuringly they also have some bottles of their own label wine on sale at fifteen euro. And there’s is a small wine bar in the basement where glasses of wine can be had from five euros upwards.
The ground floor is devoted to food and devoted is an appropriate term as it is a gastronomic temple where food-lovers can worship. Every imaginable foodie delight is for sale: extra virgin olive oil, fungi, olives, cheese, patisseries, bread, fresh and dried pasta, fruit and veg, pesto, salami ….Thankfully I remembered the impossibility of stashing food into my suitcase before I went wild buying a heap of goodies.