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Macarons… macarons… I have tried them the first time at a famous French pastry shop, Ladurée. They were very sweet but somehow I start liking them more and more… not that I like eating macarons but I am fascinated by the way they are made. It is a challenge… since then I had looked for some information about recipes, tips and tricks how to make it perfectly… I have to say that I am NOT an expert, I’m just someone who would like to share these lovely recipe in my blog ^^ hope you enjoy!

For the shells: (made 10 pairs)
35 gr egg white (about 1)
12 gr granulated sugar
60 gr powdered sugar
30 gr almonds
red powdered food coloring (the end color will depend on how much you use)

Egg whites: separate your egg and store the white at room temperature in a covered container for at least 48 hours. In this way, it will decrease the humidity, which is in a better condition to make macarons. In a large bowl, use an electric beater to beat the egg white. When it starts foaming up, gradually add the sugar and powdered food coloring. Keep beating until it turns into a glossy texture. Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry. Combine the almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor and pulse them until they are finely ground. Or you can use almond meal and icing sugar, sift them in a small bowl, and use a little spoon to mix them well together. In this way, the almond meal and icing sugar will spread out evenly. Add them to the meringue, fold quickly to break some of the air and then fold carefully until a batter flows like lava. The whole process should not take more than 25 strokes. To see if the mixture is ready, drop on a small plate, if the tops flattens on its own then it is ready. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of folds.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper lined baking sheets or Silpat. Preheat the oven to 140c/275F/Gas Mark 1. Let the macarons sit at least an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 18-20 minutes, depending on their size. I suggested you to leave the shells until they have a texture like play dough… when you touch them, they don’t stick to your fingers… that’s when they’re good to go. (On a rainy day, there is a high humidity in the air… it might take more time, several hours for the shells to harden)

The baking part is very tricky. Each oven works differently. The upper part of my oven is quite warm; I needed to put the tray on the bottom part of the oven, use top and bottom heat without fan… Some ovens work well when baking macarons with fan turned on. Some give a perfect macaron’s shape when you put the tray in a middle part… it depends… I guess you will have to find out how yours work by trying it a couple times.

Once macarons are baked and if you are not eating them right away, store them in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer.

To make macarons, pipe the butter cream on a center of macaron shells then put another empty shell on top. Gently push them together (if the cream is too thick, you may use a finger to help spreading the cream out evenly)

Rose Butter Cream
Ingredients:
50 gr rose jam
50 gr unsalted butter (at room temperature)
10 gr granulated sugar
2/3 cup of milk
½ tsp of all purpose flour

In a small sauce pan, boil milk with low heat and gradually add the flour… stir constantly until it gets thicker Turn of the stove and let the milk cool down. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and gradually add sugar. Beat the mixer until it becomes fluffy then add rose jam and milk mixture. Keep beating at low speed until it is mixed well and becomes creamy.
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Beat egg white and gradually add granulated sugar
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Add red powdered coloring and continue beating egg white until it becomes glossy
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Add ground almond and sugar into the mixture… fold quickly a first few times, then carefully fold until it becomes like lava texture
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My macarons…
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Macarons with Rose Butter Cream
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My macarons with a very cute box (from Ladurée)!
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Macarons with Rose Butter Cream (with purple color)
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As you can see that the ingredients are quite simple, but the procedure to make is somehow not that simple. There are so many factors involved; humidity, temperature, oven, etc. Macarons like dry and cold weather. The shell will harden easily, which is good. This will prevent the face to break (or crack) when you put into the oven. If the surface is not hard enough… the heat will damage its look. If the temperature is too low, the legs of macarons might not go up. Or if your oven is too hot, it might burn macarons…But once you tried to make a couple times then you’ll get a hang of it… and see how they are going to turn out… hope you enjoy, good luck!

Happy Easter (Buona Pasqua) to those who celebrated! My in-law had organized a big lunch for a family get-together. It was wonderful! 12 of us did enjoy a special time during Easter feast. Hope you all did too.

Here our dining table… ready to receive everyone in the family (12 seats)
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Name tag (handmade) — my father in-law made these and put them on each seat! They are cute, love them!
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Primo (first course), it was lasagna.
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Secondo (second course) : grilled lamb with rosemary
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Side dish — it is called “Sformato di Verdure”. Mashed potato with green beans, eggs, grated parmesan … mixed all together until it become creamy, sprinkled with breadcrumbs and baked in the oven.
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Another side dish – baked potatoes
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Before dessert we had “madedonia” (mixed bowl of chopped fruit such as pears, apples, strawberries, kiwi, etc.)
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As Italian tradition – people exchange chocolate eggs … each egg weighs around 300-400 grams (standard size). They are wrapped in colorful papers.
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Some prefer to give gift set instead of one big chocolate eggs (chocolate and traditional Easter cake called “Colomba”)
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We were in the middle of exchanging eggs in the family… fun fun!
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There they are!… chocolate eggs for Easter
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Inside chocolate eggs there are little gift (or souvenirs) hidden, you need to break or tear all eggs to see them.
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This cake is called “Colomba” (English = Dove). It is considered to be Italian Easter Cake. The texture is like sweet bread, topped with baked almond and sugar. The shape is like “dove” with head, tail and 2 wings.
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Our gifts for the family — nice package of chocolate eggs and little baskets from Lindt… good quality chocolate and beautiful package design, love it!
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Hope you all had a great Easter… it is huge family get together event here in Italy (beside Christmas). Have a great day, everyone!

Restaurant : Al Garghet
Menu : Italian (pasta, gnocchetti, cotoletta)
Opening Time : Tuesday-Sunday 7:30pm-11pm
Address : Via Selvanesco 36, Milano, Italy
GPS : 45° 25′ 5.90″ N 9° 11′ 23.30″ E


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Al Garghet
Via Selvanesco 36
20142 Milano, Italy


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A few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to have dinner at one of interesting restaurant in Milan, Italy. The particular character about this place is most of the dishes are originally based on Milanese traditional menu; such as Risotto alla Milanese, Cotoletta alla Milanese, etc. My husband and I had an anniversary coming, so we decided to go to that place and we were not disappointed.
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One thing I have to mention is about the location. It is a bit outside the city. You may need a car to go there. I do not see any public transportation nearby. It was not a problem for us as we went by car. We made a reservation a few days before and were told that we had to arrive at 7:45pm, because it was all booked later on that evening.
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The restaurant looked like a little house in a country side, decorated with tons of lights… it was difficult to miss.

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Inside it was decorated with plaid table clothes… red theme with yellow lights… I saw lamps at every corner.

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In front of the rest room, there is a vanity table with little chairs and couch. I thought that was cute!

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Most of the photographs I took them with my iPhone. They looked a little blurry, due to low light. (Who would want to bring a camera inside the restaurant, right? or maybe some of you may want to…haha). Our first courses were gnocchi and risotto saltato.

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“Gnocchi Di Patate Con Ragu Di Cinghiale” was my choice of first dish. It was pasta gnocchi (flour and potatoes) with wild pork sauce. I was very pleased with the taste and presentation. The sauce contained little cubes of wild pork…soft and ready to melt to your mouth. The pasta was exquisite… I could tell, it was definitely a homemade one. When I pointed at the menu, the waitress smiled and told it was a very good choice.
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“Tortino croccante di riso con zafferano e salsiccia” was for my husband. It was risotto cooked with saffron and later formed into flat circle shape, then fried in the pan. It was served with sauce that made from sausage “salsiccia” (cured pork with herbs and spices). He loved it and it gave me an idea to make it at home sometimes.

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Secondo (second course).
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“Agnello al forno con le patate” (baked lambchop with potatoes, served with grilled artichoke)
This one was on the recommended menu of the day. I chose it because I wanted to try. Even though I am not a big fan of lamb meat but this time I couldn’t resist… again, it was not disappointing at all… the taste was delicious!
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Orecchia d’Elefante (fried veal cutlet… similar to Costoletta alla Milanese, or Cotoletta alla Milanese)
It was meant to be “huge”… I mean really huge! As you can see the meat expanded out of the plate… I guessed that was traditional way to serve it… as the meaning of “Orecchia d’Elefante”, which is Ear of Elephant. It was alright… my husband would not say it was excellent… it is just acceptable good, as many other Milanese restaurants should do.
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Dolce (Dessert)
I had a chocolate cupcake with vanilla cream, served with sweeten pear and red currants. This had a little twist because the cupcake had a bit of spice in it… (it said in the menu that it contained ground pepperoncino or Italian red pepper). I loved it, I thought that was very cool… never had it before and it was surprised pair for me (chocolate with red pepper).
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My husband had “Orange Sorbet”… it was good… just good… he enjoyed it.
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I do not normally do food review of restaurant review often. But this time, I felt like I had to write some information down…just in case, someone was searching for a traditional Milanese restaurant. It was quite special place… the service was great. We did not have any problem at all and we got everything we ordered in a proper timing. The price was a bit higher than normal restaurant… not too high… I think it is around 20% more than others, which is acceptable for us.
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Kudo to the chef! They did an excellent job with food, taste and presentation. I just think this will be another option if you want to have a great dinner in Milan, Italy.
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Wish you all had a very merry Christmas… December is such a month of celebration… the birth of Jesus Christ and time to be together with our family. We really did had a great time on December 25th. My in-law hosted a grand Christmas feast, food is all Italian… delicious!

This year Milan has a very bright and shine weather… 2-6c with sunshine throughout the week. We didn’t have a white Christmas but it was alright. The time with family was more precious… what a year we had.

Our Christmas feast… lunch of December 25th, 2011.


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Antipasti (starters) : we had different kinds of cured meat, salami and hams.
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Side dished: pickles and different kinds of vegetable.
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Anchovies
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Tartine al Salmone: toasts with butter and salmon
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Tartine: little square pieces of bread, spread with patè (spreadable meat paste) and garnished with vegetable or pickles
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Patè: a mixture of ground meat with herbs and spices into a form of spreadable paste. The recipe of my father in law was to cover with gelatin and chill it in a fridge for a couple of days.
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Salsa Verde: vegetable paste made with fresh parsley, anchovies, onions, salt and vinegar.
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Primo: our first course was ravioli stuffed with ground meat.
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Secondo: chicken with potatoes and salsa verde. On Christmas day, chicken meat is preferred to be from female chicken (hen), in Italian it is called “Gallina”.
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Grandmother of my husband loved this part of chicken, yes… it is bottom! She said, back in the old days it was not easy to find. You would have a buy a whole chicken to get this part. I think it is true until these days. They don’t sell chicken’s bottom in the supermarket, you will need to buy a whole one… the question is “how many people want to eat that part (chicken’s bottom)???”
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Another side dish: Gallina in Gelatina
It is chickent torn in pieces and soaked in gelatin… garnished with pickles.
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Gorgonzola and mascapone cheese mixed together, garnished with walnut: It is cream spread, which is quite popular in North Italy.
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Dessert: Panettone pudding
It is made from Italian festive bread “Panettone”, sliced in to pieces, layered with chocolate and vanilla pudding.
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Pandoro (big loaf of bread covered with icing sugar): it is traditional bread in Italy, which is widely sold during Christmas and New Year.
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We love to have Pandoro with sweet mascarpone cream.
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We exchanged our gifts after finishing our big meal… what fun!

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Our Christmas lunch was very long… lasted from 12:30pm until 6pm with 14 attendees including hosts. It was a long hard work to prepare but I bet the joy that came out of it was paid off wonderfully. Wish you all a great time during holiday season… Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2012!

Mondeghili (MON-deh-KEE-lee) are deep fried meatballs. The recipe is originated from Milan, Italy. Most of Italians know them as “Polpette” (pol-PET-teh), means meatballs. The word “Polpette” are widely used among people who are not from Milan.

They are considered as peasant food (food for poor people). The idea of ingredients is to use leftover meat and bread to create meatballs. Nothing wasted in the old time… good idea even for the present time.

It is normally served as second course, accompanied with salad or grilled vegetables. Sometimes it is served with tomato sauce.
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Ingredients (for 4 people)
Ground beef 400 grams
Mortadella Bologna 150 grams
Italian sausage “Salsiccia” 150 grams
Bread (any kind) 100 grams
Grated parmesan cheese 100 grams
Milk 1 cup
2 eggs
Butter 20 grams
Garlic 1 clove (minced)
Chopped parsley 2 teaspoons
Salt 2 teaspoons
Black pepper 1 teaspoon
Breadcrumbs (to coat meatballs) 1 cup
Oil (to fry) 2 cups
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Directions
Slice bread into little pieces then soak them in milk. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
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Slice mortadella into small pieces then put them in food processor until it is minced well.
For Italian sausage “Salsiccia”, remove the skin and take only the meat inside.
Mix all 3 kinds of meat together; ground beef, mortadella and salsiccia.
Add the rest of ingredients; soaked bread, grated parmesan, 2 eggs, butter, garlic, chopped parsley, salt and black pepper.
Mix well altogether.
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Form the mixture into meatballs. Make them into round shape (4-5 cm), with height around 1-1.5 cm.
Coat meatballs with breadcrumbs.
Deep fry into a pan with low heat.
Mondeghili could be served as hot or at room temperature.
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Bread (Bocconcino Morbido), it was our leftover… perfect to use for mondeghili.

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Slice bread into pieces then soak them in milk

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Salsiccia and Mortadella
Mortadella is cured pork, which contains 15% fat. It is slightly smoked, originated from Bologna, Italy.
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Slice mortadella into pieces then put into food processer.

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Remove salsiccia’s skin, we only need the meat inside.
Salsiccia in Italy is made from ground pork, marinated with some spices such as garlic, pepper, nutmeg, etc. A tradition form is like sausage with long shape.

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Mix all the meats together

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Mix well all the ingredients.

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Form meatballs into round shape, it also could be form into oval shape (like egg).

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Coat meatballs with breadcrumbs and deep fry in a pan.

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Let them sit on paper towel for a bit so they will not be too oily before serving.

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Mondeghili or Polpette Milanesi — ready to serve.

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I have created some ideas about making Halloween treats… A couple weeks ago I was at the supermarket close to our home and saw nice oranges from Sicily (they are called “Valencia” oranges). Sure enough I picked up some of them and started to think about making orange pudding.

“Jack O’Lantern” came across my mind… and now here we go “Jack O’Lantern Orange Pudding”

Italian word for pudding is “Budino” (boo- DEE-no). Orange pudding is “Budino all’Arancia”.

Recipe: Jack O’Lantern Orange Pudding

3 Oranges (I used Valencia Oranges from Sicily)
Orange juice 2 cups
Granulated sugar 1 cups
Heavy Cream 2 cups
Corn Starch 2 tablespoons
Gelatin Powder 1 teaspoon

Directions
Prepare oranges
Cut the top off neatly, make them look like lids
Use a little knife to clean out the inside of oranges
You may use a little spoon to help
This step you will get orange juice around 2-3 cups
Use a strainer to filter seeds and pulps
Keep the juice for 2 cups (we’ll make pudding from it)

Keep the oranges (with inside emptied) as containers
We’ll use them to make “Jack O’Lantern”

“Making Pudding”
In a medium size pot, pour in orange juice
Put on a stove with medium heat
Slow pour in granulated sugar, mix well
When sugar was all melt, add in corn starch
The texture will form like orange jam
At this point, slowly pour in heavy cream
Keep stirring until it becomes thicker
At the end add in gelatin powder

Use a spoon to put the pudding in orange container
(bowls that are made from oranges with inside emptied)
Leave until they all cooled down
Then put them in a fridge for at least 2-3 hours
Pudding will form soft and thick texture, ready to serve

Decoration as Jack O’Lantern
We will need black papers
Cut into triangle shapes to make eyes and noses
For the mouth, you may create with different shapes you like

“Valencia” oranges

Cut the tops off, make them look like “lids”

Empty the inside of oranges, you can orange juice for 2-3 cups

Add in sugar, corn starch, heavy cream and gelatin powder

Mix well, then pour them back into oranges (with inside emptied)

Cover with lids before serving… does it look like “brain”? haha!!!

Decoration papers…

Decorate with black papers cut into different shapes for eyes, noses and mouths. Stick them on the oranges with glue

Jack O’Lantern Orange Pudding… ready to serve

Hope you enjoy!
Buon Appetito.

Restaurant : Bussarakham
Menu : Thai Cuisine (Green curry chicken, Som Tam, Spring Rolls, etc.)
Open Hours : 12.00-14.30, 18.30-23.30
Address : Via Valenza 13, 20144 Milano, Italy


See Map

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A couple weeks ago, we were in a mood for hot, spicy and delicious Thai food. There are not many Thai restaurants in the town we live in,Milan, Italy… One of the reasons I could say was many north Italians (like my hubby) are not used to oriental spices… holy basil, lemon grass, green curry paste, etc., which is OK. I totally understand it. Why would you crave some other food while you are having one the yummiest Italian dishes around you, right?

Never mind… let’s move on… so yes, we wanted to try some hot food… where could we go?… Thai restaurant was not a bad idea. The location was great, close to Navigli canal… very lively during the evening. We parked our car near public parking space (Porta Genova), which has 24hr security… wow! There were small fees involved (the restaurant will cover parking costs for customers)

 

Let see the atmosphere of Bussarakham Restaurant!

 

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Welcome Drinks – orange juice (not freshed but OK) and rice chips

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Antipasti : we ordered Thai salad (Som Tam) and fried spring rolls. Som Tam was a bit sweet but I had to give them some credits of using authentic ingredient, raw papaya.

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Spring rolls were alright, I love a little basket with a tiny orchid.

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Pad Thai — well, we have been in Thailand… we know how Pad Thai really looked like it was made a tiny rice noodle… what we saw that night was a bit larger size of noodle… strange… but the taste was fine… my husband really liked it.

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Main course: Green Curry Chicken, Beef Pa-Nang (red and sweet curry) and rice.

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Beef Pa-Nang was really salty… it was supposed to be sweet and spicy, wasn’t it?

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Green Curry Chicken — was good, great taste… I was hoping to see some Thai eggplants (green, white and crispy) in the curry but there weren’t there!!! Maybe Italian laws of importing foreign produces have affected them! (In 2010, there were some changes of the laws, which required higher quality of imported products from oversea… many vegetables and fruits from Thailand and many other countries were denied!)

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Rice — it was basmati, not jasmine (traditional Thai rice)… which was alright… I love basmati rice!

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My plate!

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Dessert – green tea ice-cream… good! Yummy!

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Mixed Thai Desserts: many were based on coconut milk and sugar… very tasty!

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At the end of the meal, the restaurant gave away orchids to all lady customers… (just ladies, not men). I think that was so sweet!!!

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All the dishes were quite delicious and tasty… even thought there were some ingredients that were not added in as authentic ones… overall it was fine… I really enjoyed the place, especially the service and atmosphere… The waiters and waitress were very attentive to their clients… impressive!

Yes, it was quite pricey… but just like other restaurant in Milan… dinner could be expensive (we paid around 80 euros for everything… it was perfectly OK in big city of Italy like this! Believe me, we have paid more in some other restaurants)

Upon request, the restaurant gave us complementary parking coupons (6 euro coupons for 2 hours). That was nice… glad they did that… This complementary was not written out loud in the restaurant but it said on their website that parking fee will be refunded. So we asked and they gave.

I think Bussarakham Restaurant could be a good choice of yours if you are up to exotic Thai food while staying Milan… romantic dinner, business dinner… maybe not for a family with young children… but if you want to bring them, I don’t think they would mind!