Venice odyssey on the menu

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television Free To Air - Rick Stein: From Venice to Is­tan­bul,

TV chef Rick Stein takes us on a jour­ney to dis­cover the gas­tro­nomic legacy of the Byzan­tine Em­pire Rick Stein is off on an­other of his self-styled culi­nary jour­neys dur­ing this seven-part se­ries, a kind of mooching odyssey through Italy, Croa­tia, Al­ba­nia, Greece and Turkey.

Here, he ex­plores the gas­tro­nomic legacy of the Byzan­tine Em­pire, un­cov­er­ing idio­syn­cratic de­tails of its lit­tle-known his­tory and cui­sine.

“Now, I’m no his­to­rian,” he tells us at the start as he be­gins to wan­der around Venice.

“I’m a cook but I love the golden cul­ture of the Byzan­tine Em­pire and I’ll be drop­ping bits of his­tory in here and there but ba­si­cally it’s all about the food.”

Over the decades now, with his pro­ducer and di­rec­tor David Pritchard, Stein has cre­ated a new for­mat for the TV cook­ing show — fol­low­ing on the heels of Keith Floyd, an­other trav­el­ling chef dis­cov­ered by Pritchard — merg­ing it with the travel show, touch­ing on mat­ters en­vi­ron­men­tal, lit­er­ary, his­tor­i­cal, so­cial, aes­thetic and po­lit­i­cal.

Few TV pre­sen­ters speak to us with such easy in­ti­macy, shar­ing per­sonal sto­ries, chat­ting easily and knowl­edge­ably with chefs and restau­ra­teurs, and cre­at­ing a rather unique warm and friendly aura; though he does en­joy­ably in­dulge in the odd di­a­tribe or two, es­pe­cially when it comes to the sus­tain­abil­ity of fish­ing in Bri­tain.

He rem­i­nisces about his pre­vi­ous vis­its to Venice, let­ting the past re­turn to him the way he so char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally does, with a travel writer’s gift for story, and can’t re­sist sit­ting down to read a bit of By­ron’s Ode on Venice, lament­ing the city’s mar­ble walls will one day sink be­neath the sea. Then it’s on to the An­tiche Caram­pane in San Polo — the his­toric cour­te­sans’ area — to try his first Vene­tian recipes, a sign out­side stat­ing em­phat­i­cally: “No Menu Turis­tico.” 8.30pm, ABC. Tues­day,

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