All posts filed under: Italian

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

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

Sarde in Saor

Sarde in Saor is a hard dish to sell. Made, as it is, of marinated sardines, vinegar, onions and sultanas – all served cold alongside polenta. If there was a marmite of the fish dish world, this would be it. It’s the type of food made for eating in a dark Venetian restaurant, mist rising from the canal, the sky a heavy grey. Its ingredients sweet, acidic, unapologetic; brought together out of necessity. But I love it. Sarde in saor first made its appearance when I worked as an au pair in Venice. The mother explained how it was cooked, emphasising the impossibly long cooking of the onions. And it really is long and slow – by the end you want onions that are soft and and slick with oil and vinegar, melting into the pan. In Venetian, ‘saor’ means ‘flavour’, but these vinegary onions do more than that. They also preserve the fish, making this the kind of dish that is cooked days in advance of eating: perfect if you find yourself with a Read More