I arrived to Milan (yes, I landed where I was supposed to ☺) at about 2PM. It was 26th of August, +30C, the pavement was melting and the wheels of my enormous hot-pink (even color was hot!) suitcase, which I was pushing/pulling and once even stumbled over, were sinking into the asphalt. Everything was closed – every bar, shop, tabacchio (the only place where I could have bought bus tickets). My map to the hotel was printed for only half way – it was a miracle I was able to cope with the remaining part. The city was empty, and apart from three teens, sitting in shade on a church’s stairs, not a single person crossed my way. In the underground the emptiness got rather apocalyptic scope. Milan looked deader than Pompeii, as Pompeii is at least populated by numerous tourists. As I learned later, three last weeks of August are vacation period, all companies get closed for at least 14 and up to 21 days. Almost everybody leaves the city for a refreshing sea vacation.
I was able to find an open shop only around 7PM. It was a tiny corner shop with a very friendly blond Italian woman in her forties. I talked to her a little bit, using the maximum of my very limited Italian with wild gesturing. I bought yoghurt and juice, and as a present she gave me a big focaccia. I’d tried this type of bread for the first time and was not able to finish it – next day it became hard as stone in the Milanese heat.
Focaccia is not difficult to make, but it requires some time to raise properly. The original recipe in Italian is published on a wonderful website Ricette della Nonna
Focaccia: a Classic Recipe
- 1 h 40 min
- 25 min
- Ready in:
- 3 h 35 min
- Mix flour, salt, yeast and sugar
- Add a tablespoon of olive oil and lukewarm water (little by little). Mix and then knead the dough until it is elastic
- Cover with towel and leave to raise in a warm place for about an hour
- After an hour, knead the dough one more time to eliminate the extra air (a minute must be enough)
- Grease a baking tray with the oil. Roll out the dough and place it on the tray. Cover it with towel and leave for another 20 minutes
- Make some halls with the finger on the focaccia's surface and leave it for 10 minutes.
- Drizzle with olive oil, add some sea salt (optional). Bake on 200C (400F) for 25 minutes
Focaccia can be served as a starter with cheeses and olives. It can be also used as a basis for pizza – just top it with tomato paste, chopped onion and cheese and bake in the oven for several minutes.