Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lemon & anchovy pork (or veal) meatballs

What a perfect Sunday.

We got up after a good night's sleep, had a nice breakfast and went to visit the new Museo del Novecento, which was inaugurated a few months ago right in the central Piazza Duomo of Milan. Since Milan was appointed to host the Expo 2015, there has been a feeling of change, renovation and excitement in the air. The city, whose skyline is currently crane-infested like a miniature Berlin, is undergoing a long-needed makeover.

In this mindframe, the museum offered free entrance to its collections of Twentieth Century Italian art for two months, but we of course waited until the second-to-last day (and last Sunday and right in the midst of Fashion week may I add) to try to go. This is the first real attempt we have made to go to an art museum since our second child was born.

With one it worked fabulously: it was cute, people smiled and nudged each other, admiring the oh-so-perfect parents teaching their daughter to appreciate the arts and different cultures at a very young age. With two, not so much. There is a lot of crying, whining and snotty noses. The older child wants to sit in the stroller, the younger one wants out. Both want to be carried, jealousy ensues. Four hands touching and grabbing suddenly seem five times as many as two hands to control. And siblings have the tendency to egg each other on when bored or tired (remember sis?). Suddenly you are the pariah, the family that should keep those noisy, spoiled kids at home. Crowded museums and restaurants, the magic combination of many a relaxed week end as a couple, are now a recipe for disaster. Especially in a city where even being intellectual is a fashion, where your average museum dwellers are uber trendy couples, the we-do-not-want-children-especially-after-seeing-you-today kind.

Anyway, back to my story. We thought we would take advantage of our early mornings to get to the museum before the crowds. Who stands in piazza Duomo on a cold, grey Sunday morning before 10:00am? Everybody, apparently. When we got there, the line was so long it went all the way around the building and through the piazza, at least a 2 to 3 hour wait. Thank goodness a friend had told me strollers had precedence because it was one of the few times (including boarding planes) that I was happy to have a stroller to lug around. Surely enough, in a country where very little is tailored towards families and children, in we zipped under the astonished looks of the throngs of people standing behind the ropes.

The doorman warned us it would be crowded upstairs and it was, but it worked out well anyway. We spent a little over an hour walking through the building, just enough time to check out the architecture and some of the paintings. To discuss colours, materials and subjects with our daughter. To have her loudly point out every intimate detail of each and every painting or sculpture. As the tour continued, the childrens' interest and attention ebbed so we were glad to reach the large area on top where they could run around a little amidst the Fontana sculptures and the large windows overlooking the piazza. After this I started handing out hidden breadsticks and announced to my husband we had just enough time to escape, give or take five minutes if we let the kids push the buttons in the elevator. We succeeded and went for a nice lunch at the Panino Giusto right next door and then home just before the rain hit.

In the afternoon, as my little boy slept and dreamt of Boccioni and Pelizza da Volpedo and my daughter and husband drew at the kitchen table, I made these meatballs (or rather patties since I made them a little larger than usual). They are adapted from a Nigel Slater recipe I found on the blog 'Too Many Chefs' years ago. Every bite just melts in your mouth, with a nice citrusy punch and savory touch from the anchovies. They have become a favorite at our house. Why not make them a favorite at yours?

250 gr ground pork (or veal)
70 gr bread crumbs
1 lemon, zest and juice
8 anchovies
1/2 cup stock
parmesan, optional
butter/olive oil

Mix the ground meat with all the ingredients. Roll the meatballs in flour and cook them in a pan after heating some butter or olive oil. Let each side turn brown and crunchy. Then add in the stock and cook until the liquid dries out and the meatballs are tender. In case you are wondering, I doubled the amounts.


  1. I can almost imagine that day. Fun, yet stressful, yet amazing, yet exhausting. Seeing your pictures really takes me back to my time in Europe. These meatballs look like a perfect way to finish off the day as well. Simple, healthy, and delicious.

  2. Mrs. Smith in NYCMarch 3, 2011 at 5:53 PM

    What a delicious looking recipe - I love the pictures of your little girl looking at art - she looks very grown up the way she is standing in front of the painting! Lunch at Panini Guisto must have made it somewhat bearable - I still remember the yummy sandwich I had there years ago!! I will have to make this for my handsome husband soon..what do you serve with it?

  3. A nice day, delicious food, culture... what could be better. Lovely pictures!
    *kisses* HH

  4. This sounds like a wonderful experience. I love art museums and wish that when I was a child my parents had taken me more. Yours are fortunate.

  5. Thanks for sharing your beautiful day!

    Since my anchovy "mishap" I have purchased a jar of them and the paste too! This looks awesome!!!!

    They WILL become a staple in my home!

  6. Can't pass up a new meatball creation. I make some with a few unexpected ingredients that are always raved about, this one sounds like a winner too. My next meatball will be your recipe

  7. Julie - it is funny, because despite the expectations, it was not stressful at all. Isn't it always like that, when you are expecting the worst kids behave like a dream and the minute you let your guard down all hell breaks loose.
    Mrs. Smith - Hello dear!! What an honor. Panino Giusto was great as and Mr. Smith must come with us soon again. Luckily, there was no need to make things bearable, it really was a perfect Sunday. The kids were a dream.
    HH - It was a nice day, truly.
    Stevie - I remember so many trips to museums with my family. It was fun, but there was a point when my sister and I got tired and always broke out into hysterical laughter.
    DD&W - I loved your post about your anchovy mishap. And what a great recipe came out of it.
    I Sicilian - Great, let me know. And would love to hear some of your combinations. I love meatballs.

  8. You girl looks very thoughtful examining the artwork! What a day too! These meatballs look like the perfect ending :)

  9. This recipe looks delicious! And great photos too, thanks for sharing!

  10. Well, since anchovies are one of my favorite foods, I'm definitely going to try this. I can't believe that line for the museum. But since I live in Italy too, yes, I can. You were courageous.

  11. Lorraine - it is quite surprising to experience art through a child's eyes.
    Miri - hi and thanks.
    Nicole - if you like anchovies this is definitely for you. As I mentioned, we luckily cut the line thanks to the stroller, so it turned out just fine.

  12. Yep this could be a winning recipe at our home - with a lot of luck. I am no stranger to anchovies in cooking, but my family doesn't share my appreciation of them. Trying this might help!


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