Last week, I took a little break from my everyday life. I packed a tote bag full of old New Yorker issues, some eye drops and a snack, snuck out of the house before anyone was awake, got in a cab and went to the airport. Then I flew to...Milan.
I was in Milan for the Salone del Mobile, the largest furniture trade fair in the entire world, and specifically to visit the EuroCucina - an exhibition hall full of kitchen companies showcasing their latest developments (mostly technological developments, though I couldn't help ogling a lush Dolce & Gabbana run of Smeg refrigerators or a 6-burner turquoise lacquered La Cornue stove situation, you know, for your run-of-the-mill country estate).
My host was Neff, the kitchen company that I've done some work with in the past. At their stand, a cozier, homier one than most of the others, which were outfitted to look far more cutting edge and futuristic, fresh fruits and vegetables were part of the display, as were big sacks of dry goods and gorgeously hued piles of spices and herbs. Sonia Peronaci, an Italian blogger who founded the country's largest cooking website, Giallo Zafferano (which my mom uses on the regular), held down the fort there with a slew of cooking demos.
I had the pleasure of joining Sonia for a demo and we cooked side-by-side, making pork belly and salmon that was then devoured in about 27 seconds flat by the gathering crowd. Before the food was gobbled up, though, it was plated on a series of gorgeous handmade plates by Reiko Kaneko.
Kaneko is a Central Saint Martins trained ceramicist whom Neff commissioned to make a series of plates inspired by the "science of gastrophysics." Kaneko worked together with Professor Charles Spence, an expert in multisensory perception, specifically sensory perception of food, to create the three plates. One is for starters, one for mains and one is a dessert vessel. Their colors, textures and shapes elevate the various flavor profiles of the foods they are meant to showcase.
So, for example, the starter plate, oblong and unevenly ridged, enhances the flavor of salty, savory food, specifically seafood. The plate for mains is slightly more bowl-like, with a lacquered surface and higher sides, is meant to enhance the flavor of spicy foods. The round dessert bowl in soft pink increases the perception of sweetness and fruitiness in desserts, especially those made with berries.
After my demo was complete, I got to have lunch at one of the fair's staff cafeterias, hidden up on the top of the building. Since we were in Italy, the cafeteria food was - no surprise - pretty amazing. Think tiny meatballs in tomato sauce, delicious boiled broccoli (I know!), possibly the best white lasagna I've ever had. Even the tangerine I pilfered from the fruit bowl for later was perfect. Oh, Italy!
I took a nice, long wander of the Salone, marveled at the supreme elegance of the men and women all around me, then made my way back to the airport and, later still, my delicious boys asleep in their beds. What a day!
This post was sponsored by Neff.