All posts filed under: Recipes

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

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