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!
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