Milan and Vienna - Scaloppine Milanese

Author: Jiuguang Wang,
from under  GNU Free Documentation License

Milan, home to La Scala opera house, an ornate gothic cathedral and the Castello Sforzesco. Well-known for being at the heart of the Italian fashion industry, it has also been at the heart of a number of empires across the centuries. The Castello Sforzesco had been the ducal residence during the Visconti period, was demolished during the short-lived Ambrosia Republic and was rebuilt by the dynastic rulers of Milan, the Sforza family. It was later used as a barracks through the successive rules of the Spanish, Austrian and French empires. Milan adapted for its conquerors.

It was the cathedral, with its elaborate exterior decoration that captured me, even allowing for the  scaffolding and netting that was draped over it.  When Oscar Wilde had clapped eyes on it in 1875 he described it as ‘monstrous and inartistic.’ Mark Twain, on the other hand, was more effusive:
‘What a wonder it is! So grand, so solemn, so vast! And yet so delicate, so airy, so graceful! […] They say that the Cathedral of Milan is second only to St. Peter’s at Rome. I cannot understand how it can be second to anything made by human hands…’ 
Admiring the duomo’s exterior, even with a scaffold encumbered view, I could only agree with Twain. The inside of the cathedral was disappointing compared to the outside, but a climb onto the roof was worth it. The views across Milan to the mountains, on a clear summer's day, is worth the trembling limbs brought about by a mild case of vertigo.


Vienna has been described as the 'gateway to Eastern Europe' and with good reason. It is less than hour by train from Bratislava and the cities of Prague and Budapest are not much further. In typically contrary fashion I entered Vienna from the east. Vienna, before visiting, was known to me as the city of Mozart, cakes and pastries, waltzes and dancing horses; and they are all there. But that is not all, there is architecture, the history of a city that has been at the centre of European politics and intrigue over the centuries, and of course the churches and cathedrals. I am a bit of a church fiend, not due to any particularly religious yearning but I find their architecture fascinating and usually a cool sanctuary to gather my thoughts. 

St. Stephen’s Cathedral was not to be ignored. The heart of Vienna, the Cathedral has been
Authr: David Monniaux, through Wikipedia
under GNU Free Documentation License

 one of the city’s defining buildings since its inception in 1147AD. It dominates the square in which it sits, a medieval and Renaissance architectural marvel. The proximity of the buildings around the square contribute to the impression of the church’s immense size. The south tower, steffl, does not need the presence of smaller buildings to emphasize its size – standing at over 400 feet high its spire extends heavenwards. The same cannot be said of the north tower. Work in the Gothic style stopped in 1511 with the north tower unfinished. A Renaissance spire seemed to have been hastily shoved on top to complete it towards the end of the 1500s giving the tower a stunted appearance. It is as if a grand wedding cake with three magnificent tiers of icing and decoration had been finished off with the addition of an iced bun without even a glace cherry on top. Somewhat incongruous. This was a cathedral of disproportionate parts to my untrained but discerning eye; an enormous south tower, a stunted north tower and a roof which appeared to be as high again as the walls of the main building. The intricate tiling of shades of blue and green and black zig-zags with a band of geometric patterns highlighted with yellow may have contributed to the illusion of the height of the roof. 

Milan and Vienna have a shared history and some common dishes, the most recognisable of which is the Scaloppine Milanese or Wienerschnitzel. Made with either chicken or veal, the cooking method is the same. The Viennese and the Milanesi have an ongoing debate as to who influenced who in the creation of the dish. I prefer the veal version and so for this reason alone, I award Milan with the honour of ‘owning’ the dish.  

Scaloppine Milanese/Wienerschnitzel
Serves 4-6 depending on cutlet size

1 ½ lb veal cutlets
6 tbsp clarified (melted) butter
2 lemons
1 beaten egg
125g fine white breadcrumbs

If the cutlets have not been prepared for you by the butcher for this recipe you will need to tenderise the veal cutlets and flatten into a thin escalope.

Dip each of the cutlets completely into the egg then press both sides of the cutlets into the breadcrumbs ensuring that they are totally covered.
Place the cutlets into the hot melted butter and fry until tender and golden brown on both sides.
Serve with salad or sautéed potatoes and a wedge of lemon.

Hints & Tips
To give a crisp, even coating do not move or turn the cutlets for the first 2-3 minues to allow the ccoating to stick to the cutlet, and not the pan.


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