IN SEARCH OF AUTHENTIC FLAVOURS

A mix­tu­re of history and le­gend, Ve­ne­tian cui­si­ne uses sim­ple in­gre­dien­ts sour­ced from land and sea that are tran­sfor­med in­to de­lec­ta­ble di­shes tel­ling the sto­ry of the Se­re­nis­si­ma’s glo­rious pa­st. En­joy your meal!

Where Venice - - Dining - BY STE­FA­NO TRAINE

The di­shes of Ve­ne­tian ga­stro­no­mic tra­di­tion tell the sto­ry of sea voya­ges and far-off lands, when La Se­re­nis­si­ma was a tee­ming cros­sroads of cul­tu­res, spi­ces and flavours. A ti­me when, in ad­di­tion to the ine­vi­ta­ble'om­bra de vin' (a glass of wi­ne), Ve­ne­tian 'oste­rie'al­so ser­ved di­shes ba­sed on what the sea, and the small pat­ches of its cul­ti­va­ted land, we­re able to of­fer. Whe­ther you hap­pen to find your­self in a ta­card, an oste­ria or an ele­gant re­stau­rant Venice's mo­st no­ta­ble di­sh is bac­ca­la man­te­ca­to, salt cod coo­ked in milk and ser­ved wi­th po­len­ta. Ac­cor­ding to le­gend, a Ve­ne­tian mer­chant, who had been shi­p­w­rec­ked on the Lo­fo­ten Islands, off the coa­st of Nor­way, di­sco­ve­red stock­fi­sh, whi­ch he brought wi­th him when he re­tur­ned to the La­goon. Ano­ther mu­st-try are sar­de in saor. Pos­si­bly the mo­st an­cient of all Ve­ne­tian re­ci­pes, ves­sels. This di­sh con­sists of fried fre­sh sar­di­ne fil­le­ts, ma­ri­na­ted in gen­tly coo­ked whi­te onions, usual­ly wi­th vi­ne­gar, rai­sins and pi­ne nu­ts. Ri­ce is a main­stay on Ve­ne­tian me­nus, and ar­ri­ved on the sce­ne thanks to the By­zan­ti­ne mer­chan­ts. Whi­le a unique com­bi­na­tion of soup and thick ri­sot­to ma­de of fre­sh peas, is one of the mo­st fa­mous and an­cient re­gio­nal spe­cial­ties of Venice, ri­so­to de gò, pre­pa­red wi­th go­by, a ty­pe of la­goon fi­sh, is the mo­st ty­pi­cal. On the other hand, pa­sta e fa­zioi pa­sta and beans, is a hot fa­vou­ri­te wi­th lo­cals.

FI­SH OR MEAT?

Ty­pi­cal lo­cal stan­dou­ts in­clu­de po­len­ta con le schie, de­li­cious fried ba­by sh­rimp usual­ly sau­téed wi­th gar­lic and ser­ved over po­len­ta (see pho­to, Trat­to­ria Do For­ni), or moe­che, a Ve­ne­tian de­li­ca­cy. 'Moe­che' are young crabs :hat are caught shor­tly af­ter they ha­ve shed :heir ba­by shells and ha­ve yet to grow their adult ones. They are are usual­ly ser­ved af­ter Deing fried in a flour bat­ter and boi­ling oil. Other de­li­ca­cies in­clu­de sep­pio­li­ne al­la ve­ne­zia­na, cut­tle­fi­sh coo­ked wi­th their own >lack ink and ser­ved on a bed of po­len­ta and bi­sa­to su I'aria, pie­ces of sto­ne-coo­ked eel. On the other hand, an ab­so­lu­te 'mu­st' for car­ni­vo­res is fe­ga­to di vi­tel­lo al­la ve­ne­zia­na (Ve­ne­tian-sty­le calf li­ver) coo­ked wi­th oil and whi­te onions. Ac­cor­ding to egend, the Ro­mans in­ven­ted the ori­gi­nal -eci­pe. Tho­se who en­joy ri­cher, mo­re in­ten­se la­vours should try ca­stra­di­na ve­ne­zia­na, a 17th cen­tu­ry mut­ton and cab­ba­ge stew that ser­ves as a re­min­der of the ti­me when Venice was un­der qua­ran­ti­ne du­ring the pla­gue and was sup­plied wi­th this ty­pe of meat by the Dal­ma­tae.

SWEET TREA­TS… BUT NOT TOO MA­NY

Ve­ne­tian bi­scui­ts co­me in all sha­pes and si­zes and are ma­de wi­th a va­rie­ty of dif­fe­rent flours. The mo­st com­mon in­clu­de dry bai­co­li, zae­ti, coo­kies ma­de from corn­flour, wi­th rai­sins and le­mon peel, bus­so­lai (pre­pa­red by the wi­ves of fi­sher­men to su­stain their hu­sbands whi­le at sea), pin­sa, a sim­ple bi­scuit ma­de from sta­le bread, rai­sins, co­coa po­w­der and can­died fruit, and fu­gas­sa ve­nes­sia­na lea­ve­ned dou­gh sprin­kled wi­th grains of su­gar: Venice’s tra­di­tio­nal sweet trea­ts ha­ve the ir­re­si­sti­ble aro­ma of sim­ple, ho­me­ma­de bi­scui­ts pre­pa­red wi­th on­ly the mo­st ba­sic in­gre­dien­ts. A per­fect end to a de­li­cious meal, they can al­so be en­joyed as a mid-mor­ning snack. They can be ac­com­pa­nied by ei­ther a strong cup of cof­fee, or a ri­ch, mou­th wa­te­ring za­ba­io­ne.

THE NECTOAR OF BACCHUS

Whi­le the Ve­ne­to is one of Ita­ly’s mo­st fa­mous wi­ne re­gions, few peo­ple know that Venice al­so boasts its own wi­ne­ma­king tra­di­tion. For cen­tu­ries, a vi­neyard lo­ca­ted on the Island of Maz­zor­bo has de­fied the la­goon’s hi­gh ti­des to pro­du­ce the Do­ro­na, a ra­re in­di­ge­nous va­rie­tal kno­wn at the ti­me of the Do­ges as the ‘gol­den’ gra­pe due to its deep gol­den-green co­lour. The re­sul­ting wi­ne is cal­led Ve­nis­sa.

An in­te­re­sting fact: the Mu­ra­no-ma­de bot­tles of han­d­craf­ted glass di­splay ri­ch de­co­ra­tions of hand-bea­ten gold foil thus ho­no­ring two tra­di­tio­nal

Ve­ne­tian craf­ts.

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