To cook like a Venetian
A Table in Venice is author Skye Mcalpine’s love letter to the Floating City. Victoria Lim gets inspired in the kitchen.
At a glance
There’s nothing quite like the image of wonderous architectural buildings in Venice bathed in light to inspired you to visit what some have called the most beautiful city in the world. Lucky for Skye Mcalpine who moved to the Veneto capital when she was six and spent most of her life in the beautiful city. It was through her time dabbling in her friend’s kitchen, helping to roll gnocchi that the Londonborn food writer discovered the beauty of Venetian home cooked food.
The gorgeous looking book begins with an extremely detailed and helpful shopping guide on how to set up a proper pantry to support Venetian cooking. Alpine arranges her recipes in sections like breakfast, vegetable (check out the Ricotta and Mint-stuffed Zucchini Flowers), lunch, apéritif time (don’t miss the Deep-fried Risotto and Mozzarella Balls), fish and game (the Langoustine and Fig Salad is terrific), and of course, desserts and sweet treats.
The road test
I had immense fun recreating three of the recipes for my riceloving family (the pressure is high). I went for the familiar Homemade Gnocchi with Butter and Sage. The steps to perfect the gnocchi are straightforward, but it’s best to read through the recipe in detail for a couple of times before starting. It took me two failed attempts to achieve the correct water to flour ratio for the gnocchi. And don’t get too carried away when kneading the dough – if you overwork it, your gnocchi will be too tough to chew.
The Spiced Meatballs is one that will go down well with your family and friends. To save more time, I marinated the meatballs the night before which allows all the flavours from the herbs and spices like cumin and basil to settle into the minced beef. It turns out to be the right move. The meatballs are tiny flavour bombs, which go well with the gnocchi. Bonus: if you are feeling lazy, you can half-cook the meatballs and pop them into the freezer and save them for rainy days. Just remember not to keep them for more than two weeks.
Next up: the Zabaione and Meringue Semifreddo. Even though the recipe calls for a hand held mixer, I couldn’t wait to use my new majestic yellow Kitchenaid mixer for the making of the meringue. I was rewarded with a lovely meringue within a matter of minutes. The light and not-too-cloyingly sweet flavour from the Marsala paired well with the meringue and this dish was a hit with the healthconscious parents.
The recipes are easy to follow, especially when paired with the beautiful pictures of the dishes. Experimenting with most of them is a joy. And unlike other cookbooks where you tend to flip ahead directly to the recipes pages, A Table in Venice offers easy to read, interesting history and anecdotes on the dish. So you’re likely to spend as much time actually reading about Venetian cuisine, as you are testing these Italian plates at home.
A Table in Venice: Recipes from my home retails for £26 (S$47.08) on bloomsbury.com