Cornetto Chronicles: Annabella


I’ve grown up a lot during the course of this blog.  It’s something that you can see in the topics I blog about, the photos I take and how I write.  While I’ve thought about deleting some of my very early posts, I’m not going to (more than I already have).  I think the development of my writing style and the development of who I am is part of what this blog has become about.  I certainly hope that half-way to twenty-one year old Emilia is a different person from the girl who started her blog a few weeks after turning nineteen.  The truth is that, without this little internet space, I wouldn’t have discovered a lot of my passions.  I wouldn’t have realized how much I like coffee and I would never have thought that I was capable of writing this much.  Nor would I have embarked on quite a few adventures.  It’ll be something to write about on the blog, I’ve said quite a few times when I’m in situations that make me want to cry.

All of this was really a way to start this post without saying, once again, that I have gone 180 on my opinions about brunch.  Whereas I used to feel lukewarm about it, it’s now one of my favorite traditions.  While brunch may be a perfect meal for Italy, Italy is largely a land without brunch.  I’ve been enjoying my mini-brunch marathons by myself, but there’s definitely something missing without a tablecloth (or placemat) and some friends or family.

Well, I may not have had a brunch out, but I managed to have a Sunday breakfast out with some friends that was a nice little reminder of previous brilliant brunches (Public: best brunch ever).  It was a freezing Sunday and  I was meeting up with some friends for a traditional Italian breakfast before going to the Renoir show in Pavia.  I know, a Renoir show in Pavia.  I may not be the world’s biggest fan of impressionist painting, but I was suitably impressed that this small little town was able to host such a display.

We weren’t sure whether or not there would be any place open on Sunday morning.  Luckily, the gaudy and Italian Annabella was open and packed. It’s a cafe that’s connected to a store that seems to sell exclusively fur coats for the elder women of Pavia.  We went in, chose our brioches and sat down.  One friend got a marmalade, another a cream-filled and I went with my good friend, plain.  Our drink orders, which were taken moments after sitting down, were also different: a cappuccino, a caffè and a caffè macchiato.

We sat and talked while we waited for our breakfast.  The bar was humming with activity, but the pace was less frenetic than it usually is.  People were sitting down with family, people were reading the paper standing up.  There was a big red glass chandelier in the center to make sure that every diner remembered that this was an event not to be taken lightly.

I politely asked everyone if I could take a photo of their brioche before we ate and, luckily, they obliged (thanks guys!).  Each little crescent pastry looked different and I was intrigued that the pastry cream one was smaller than the rest.  I was eager to dig into mine, pleased by the outside that, although shiney, was devoid of any disgusting glaze.

It didn’t disappoint.  While some cornetti that I’ve had seem to want to be croissants when they grow up, this was a cornetto, plain and simple.  It wasn’t trying to be anything else.  It screamed Italy.  In fact, it reminded of the brioche I had at Sant’Ambroues in New York last summer.  That, my friends, is a very good thing.  It was dense and made a lovely dipping friend for my petite macchiato.  It was pleasant to eat on its own.

At the end, I felt full without being stuffed.  That brioche and macchiato felt like a meal in the best way.  Why can’t Italians hit that ideal point more often?  Often I find that the brioches I eat are so dense that I leave feeling stuffed.  Sometimes I’ll feel too full because there’s too much milk in the cappuccino.  Then there are those times when the cornetto is so small or light and airy that I leave feeling as if I didn’t eat a thing.  It’s a delicate balance.

Arabella may have an interesting sense of decor, the huge red chandeleir is a bit over the top, but it’s well worth the grand settings for one of the better cornetti that Pavia has to offer.  And if you get to enjoy it with friends before freezing your toes off, all the better.

Do you have a favorite meal?  Has this always been your favorite meal?  What has or hasn’t changed?


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