All posts filed under: Recipes

Venetian food: a beginning

It’s probably safe to say that Venice beat Walt Disney to the title of “most magical place on earth” by over a thousand years. But like so many things, The Most Serene Republic is a city built on compromise. The first people to settle on these damp heaps of mud didn’t do so out of choice. They came here to escape the rather unpleasant chaps who had a penchant for coming down to Italy and setting things on fire. The islands we now refer to as Venice, scattered as they are throughout a shallow Adriatic lagoon, started life as seasonal refugee camps. It wasn’t until AD 421 that Venice became a permanent settlement, and even then, it was a destination for groups that had been driven from their homes elsewhere. It’s a place chosen by people who didn’t really have all that much choice left. And even after things got a little more permanent – mud and wood gradually providing the foundation for masonry and stone – Venice spent much of its history practicing its Read More

essi di burano

The sweets of Venice (frittelle, biscotti and Carnevale)

When I remember my first time au pairing, I think mostly of  doughnuts. They were called bombe, and I was obsessed. For two months I ate one every single day. I’d wait impatiently for their delivery to the beach bar, then savour them while they were still warm and oozing sweet creme patisserie. After finding myself stranded in a half-forgotten coastal resort in between Naples and Rome, these hot doughnuts were both freedom and pleasure. In Venice I’ve found my own version of bombe – frittelle. They arrived in the cafes and bakeries here at the beginning of January and will stick around until Tuesday, the final day of Carnevale. The traditional fritole veneziane are small sugar-coated doughnuts, studded with sultanas and pine nuts and best served warm with an afternoon espresso. When they’re fresh out of the oven, the dough seems almost custard-like; light, moist, and fragrant with rum. They’re also slightly more modest in size than the bombe of my au pairing youth – just small enough to  justify eating one with every espresso pitstop. And indeed, I’ve done just that. In Read More

Baked branzino

I come to you this evening with possibly the simplest fish recipe in the world. In fact, it’s barely a recipe – more a gentle reminder of something we all know: that lemon, parsley and  fresh fish are three things that almost always come together to create something wonderful. And I’m talking about really fresh fish here. This branzino came from the Rialto Fish Market, bought and eaten on the same day. Before I tell you about the bass, let me talk a little about the market. It was early December when I bought these two fish, and so cold that even the seafood seemed to chatter in their shells. Yet the market was bustling at 10am on a Tuesday, and the fruit and vegetable stands overflowing. The Italians, it seems, are experts at drawing out colour in the depths of winter; their stalls full of glossy persimmons, orange fleshed pumpkins, flaming bunches of peperoncini, and radicchio di Treviso, its ruby tipped tendrils flailing over the counters. I stopped at my favourite vegetable stand and bought potatoes, zucchini and a handful of parsley. They asked Read More