Author: Alice

ossobuco with borlotti beans

Beef shank with borlotti beans

Ah a recipe! And a distinctly un-springlike one at that. I hope you’ll forgive me. This is something that we cooked during our last couple of weeks in Venice: slow-cooked beef shin with borlotti beans. I don’t think I’ve talked much about our Venetian kitchen, and when I think of it now it doesn’t seem like a place where all that much cooking happened. Mostly just polished wood and a cranky gas hob. I used to work at the table there until the bench made my legs numb. And in the morning, while waiting for the kettle to boil for coffee, I’d look out at the patchwork of apartments opposite.  There were habits that I learned; the student who was always at her desk by 9; the woman who filled her chilled marble window ledge with groceries; the old couple who ate at 7.30, always with the tv on in the kitchen. On the ground, Venice eludes any sense of normality. But up there, up there mornings started with radios and breakfasts and moka pots Read More

Saying goodbye

On our final night in Venice, we paid one last visit to Osteria Ruga di Jaffa. The owner, Alvise, gave us a bottle of sumptuous olive oil as a goodbye gift, sparking a discussion from the men at the bar about the best way to use such a treasure. Their parting words: “just please, please don’t cook with it”. We then took a walk along Riva degli Schiavoni towards the Giardini, stopping along the way to talk about how it feels to be leaving; both of us staring blindly at the iridescent sheen of Saint Mark’s, having seen its domes from this vantage point so many times before. From Via Garibaldi, we burrowed into Venice, following a half-remembered route home. The bells tolled midnight. Dom said that perhaps he could live here forever – I replied that I need to leave and then come back to know that for sure. I thought about that again the other day, while eating my lunch on a bench in Bungay and looking out over the flooded marshes: The best thing about leaving, Read More

venice lagoon

14 March

I should really be writing about natural health supplements, but I’m sitting outside a cafe with a coffee and a soft breeze in my hair, and spring is here (!) so the Ashwagandha can wait. Let me just set the scene, for future senile Alice if nobody else. A few floors up a caged song bird sings. It chirps all day, every day (even in the depths of winter the cheering song could be heard whistling through Salizada S.Antonin), but today it does so with gusto. Then there’s gush and whirl of the milk frother, the clatter of teaspoons on cutlery and saucers placed down on marble counter tops. And in the street, the manager Anna laughs with a group of women. Every sentence bulleted with ‘amore’ and ‘tesoro’ and probably even more Venetian terms of endearment that I’m deaf to. Now there’s the clatter of the bin men, trundling past with their heavy carts. It’s recycling day today, and they pack away flattened pizza boxes with such good humour that you’d never have guessed Read More