I ush­ered Ben into the spice shop, os­ten­si­bly to fnd rose wa­ter for our meringues, but mostly for the joy of buy­ing spices from a store where they still weigh ev­ery­thing on old­fash­ioned scales

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - When in Venice -

‘There will be caul­drons of thick, dark hot choco­late,’ he said, ‘but in­fused with aro­matic spices that tap into Venice’s Byzan­tine her­itage.’ And frit­telle, the su­gar dough­nuts pep­pered with raisins, can­died peel and pine nuts that in Venice we eat only dur­ing the weeks of the car­ni­val, will be on ofer all day, ev­ery day.

As we sat down with friends and fam­ily to en­joy our banchetto, Ben made it clear that no de­tail would be too mi­nor to tend to, no in­gre­di­ent too trou­ble­some to im­port – down to the moeche (soft­shell crabs), which are not only highly sea­sonal but lo­cal to the Vene­tian la­goon, and which, Ben in­formed me, must be fed with bat­ter be­fore be­ing deep-fried in more bat­ter to bring out their favour. The best of Venice, trans­ported some­how into the heart of Lon­don. I would not have imag­ined it could be done, but then I would have been wrong. Salt Yard Group’s Veneta res­tau­rant will open in St James’s Mar­ket, Lon­don SW1, this year at the edge of the mar­ket, where more of­ten than not queues spill out on to the street, as does the en­tic­ing aroma of safron-in­fused cheeses. Later, I ush­ered Ben into the spice shop, Mas­cari, os­ten­si­bly to fnd rose wa­ter for our meringues, but mostly for the sheer joy of buy­ing spices from a store where they still weigh ev­ery­thing to the gram on old­fash­ioned scales and then care­fully wrap each pur­chase in el­e­gant printed pa­per.

As we am­bled through the streets, we talked about Ben’s ideas for the res­tau­rant; they are in­deed grand. There will be all man­ner of seafood crudo, tartare and carpac­cio. ‘The best dishes I’ve had in Venice have been the raw or semi-raw fsh and shellfsh,’ he ex­plained. ‘I want to put my own slant on them.’ He’ll serve the very best cheese from the Veneto, in­clud­ing Gor­gonzola lay­ered with mas­car­pone – the kind that draws queues at Casa del Parmi­giano and is noth­ing less than deca­dent.

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