Like floating down a lazy river made of butter, the hand-rolled cinnamon bun from Milan’s Loste Café could be ranked as an eighth wonder of the world. Created by the hands of co-owner and chef Stefano Ferraro, the simple beauty and talent reflects nothing short of his experiences working as the former head of pastry at Copenhagen’s famed NOMA.
A Turin native with a penchant for travel and food, Ferraro has worked in kitchens all across the globe, yet it was his most recent venture in Denmark that seemed to have inspired the carefully crafted pastries at Loste. Adding new dimensions of flavour to a city already rich in taste, Ferraro brings a bit of cozy nordic culture to edgy Milan. But what would a café be without coffee?
Former sommelier and NOMA alum turned coffee enthusiast, Lorenzo Cioli works diligently alongside Ferraro to make sure that every customer leaves with a great cup of coffee, a delicious pastry and maybe even a bottle of wine (of course curated by Cioli) for later.
As I walk into the white-walled space, I’m suddenly aware that Loste doesn't seem to fit in what a typical Italian café looks like; it’s cooler, crisper and definitely minimalistic. Giant windows flood the room with natural light and shine down on the three sets of black chairs overturned on top of tables for two—an indication that Covid hasn’t allowed us to return to normal life just yet.
In front of me, danish and pan au chocolat and croissant and tartlette line the large marble counter that separates customers from the workspace. As I wait my turn in line, I survey the row of pastries on display even though I already know exactly what I’m here for.
Though they have goodies like the classic croissant and danish, I make a mental note of what to try the next time: KEV (butter cookie filled with custard cream and dried prunes), cruffin (laminated pastry filled with chocolate ganache and hazelnuts from Piedmont region), cardamomo (cardamom flavoured laminated dough pastry finished with glaze made of coffee and orange juice)!
My eyes flutter from the pastry parade to the trail of wine bottles on the back wall that lead to an open doorway into the kitchen. I watch a pensive man with bulging biceps lift trays of pastries from a silver rack into an oven.
The whistle of the espresso machine breaks my trance, and I lock eyes with a grey haired man, who later introduces himself as Lorenzo. The giant espresso machine makes a final grunt before it’s my turn to order.
A chipper man, Lorenzo asks me where I’m from, where I go to school and if I’m enjoying Milan. I’m only half listening though, as I’m more interested in watching glimpses of what’s happening in the kitchen behind him.
I watch as the backroom baker (who I later discover is Stefano) brushes melted butter on top of a fresh batch of cinnamon rolls that are still steaming. He wipes a flour-covered hand on his apron and looks up at me, catching my gaze before disappearing further into the kitchen. A man of few words, his creativity speaks for itself, but that’s just fine as Lorenzo keeps me company instead. But while I’d love to stay and chat with Cioli, the smell of roasted beans and sugar is testing patience.
He hands me my cappuccino and I’m almost ready to head out the door until I realize I’m missing one thing: the pastry of the hour, Loste’s cinnamon roll. I turn back and watch as Stefano pulls a fresh cinnamon bun off the cooling rack and packs it into a box. I smile and thank the duo before I take my leave to the park I scoured on my way to the café.
Unboxing the pastry, sugar sticks to my fingers. A palm-sized pastry that’s golden to the point of sun-kissed stares back at me. Freckled with cinnamon and orange zest and a dusting of sea salt, I’ve never seen such a classy looking cinnamon roll.
Glazed with butter and sugar, unlike the thick white frosting I’m used to seeing from foodcourt renditions back home, the roll oozes classy comfort. Smells of citrus, spice and dare I say seduction, give me the inkling that I made a mistake in only ordering one roll. I close my eyes and take the first bite.
Melting in my mouth, the familiar ooey gooey texture makes me feel like I’ve been wrapped in a hug. It’s all notes of caramelized sugar and brown butter on the palate, with a refreshing burst of citrus at the end. I sip my oat milk cappuccino and pause before my next bite, my tongue still laced with browned butter.
On one hand, it reminds me of cold Canadian covid lockdowns when the sun would set and I’d gather in front of the television with my parents and we'd watch some ridiculous trendy Netflix special while snacking on Pillsbury Grands, the poor (and lazy) man’s cinnamon roll. On the other hand, it reminds me of something completely untouched. Like a refined decadence, its simplicity exudes all kinds of depth.
I stare at the half eaten roll in my hand. I squeeze the doughy inside, a sluggish sweet syrup dripping from the top of the roll. Flakes of translucent sea salt crunch between my teeth as I take another bite. Like a taste of nostalgia and a warm hug personified, it’s the definition of an understatement—simple and anything but flashing, effortless yet thoughtful, just like the little café Stefano and Lorenzo have come together to create. It’s buttery bliss and it’s perfect.