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Lila was hangovered. Her headache was banging in her head like a bullet, bouncing from one corner to the other. Her feet were hurting; the new heels have been less comfortable than promised by the sales girls. They were nice heels, expensive heels, but they were made for girls that would go from their apartment down to a car -or at least a taxi- waiting on their doorstep, then to an expensive restaurant, sitting comfortably on a red velvet stylish chair, high back and golden details on the wood. A dance or two, nothing difficult. Then back in the car, then at the building’s entrance, a good-bye kiss or two, or maybe you wanna come upstairs for a last drink?

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Lila didn’t have a car. Or money for paying a long-distance taxi fare. Or a date. But she had friends, and new shoes, and she really wanted to go out last night. So she dressed up, she put on her fancy make-up and slipped in her new shoes that were filled with promises. She walked to the subway. Then she stood up waiting for her train. It was cold and she wore a skirt; the cold metal bench did not seem an appealing option to sit on. At the bar, all the stools were taken, so she mostly had to stand. It was loud, but they did not need to talk much. Swinging a bit at the beat of the music, half-hearing Anna’s work romance fail story, sipping one cold vodka after another. Yes, men were also there. Standing a bit further away, looking at her or at Anna, then looking away when their eyes met, the most courageous coming up to buy them a drink. After five minutes of small talk, nothing more to say, an awkward smile and they were gone. She missed the last train home, so she had to take the night bus. Half-wasted or completely wasted teenagers screaming at each other. Girls sleeping, their make-up messed up, boys staring at them, sometimes holding their hands. She felt old, like she did not belong in this half-drunk, happy or marginally melancholic crowd.  Her house was a 15 minute walk uphill from the bus stop. She walked it slowly, feeling the shoes cutting in her skin.

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Breakfast. Or lunch? She dragged herself out of the bed, one leg first, then the other, then sitting up for a moment, standing up finally. In the fridge there was a small package of mushrooms she had bought some days ago, a half-empty bottle of moscato d’asti, the white sweet wine she loved. Butter, garlic, a piece of grana padano. Risotto then.

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Mushroom & Moscato Risotto

serves 4 as main course

  • 2 table spoons olive oil
  • 200 grams mushrooms (pleurotous, shiitake, yellow oyster, poplar)
  1. Clean the mushrooms with a brush or a lightly damp cloth. Cut in half if too big, if not, let whole.
  2. In high heat, warm in a pan the olive oil. Add the mushrooms, first the bigger ones and cook -stirring constantly for 3 mins. Add the smaller mushrooms and continue stirring. It should take overall 5-7 mins until all mushrooms are sautéd, depending on their size. Take pan off the heat and let aside.
  • 2 table spoons olive oil
  • 1 table spoon butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, sliced
  • 2 cups of carnaroli risotto rice (or other risotto rice)
  • 150 ml of moscato d’asti wine (or another sweet and fruity white wine)
  • 2 and 1/2 cups of chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup of grated grana padano cheese
  • salt and freshly trimmed pepper
  1. In medium high heat, warm in a pan the olive oil and butter. Add onion and garlic and stir until transparent and softened, about 5 mins. Be careful that the garlic does not burn.
  2. Add the rice and stir well, so that the rice is covered with oil and butter. Keep stirring for around 2 mins.
  3. Add the wine and stir. Allow the alcohol to evaporate, do not cover with a lid. After 2 mins of stirring add gradually the chicken stock, allowing the rice to absorve the stock slowly whlile boiling. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Let boil uncovered, stirring occasionally. It should take around 20 mins until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is done, depending on the kind or rice using.
  5. Add the grana padano and stir. Once cheese melts, add the mushrooms, with any liquid that is left in their pan.
  6. Enjoy warm with extra cheese, and a glass of chilled moscato.