Thursday, June 23, 2011

Italian Meals, Revisited: Venice

Someone reminded me that I haven't been posting enough, and she's right. It's just that, well, between the jet lag (goodness, the jet lag!), having to catch up at work, and, really, just being lazy, I haven't made the time.

But no more! I wanted to share what we ate in Italy. I could post the other 700 pictures that I took during our trip, but seeing as this is a food blog, let's start there. Maybe I'll show some other pictures in future posts.

And don't worry, there aren't pictures of every meal. Breakfast usually consisted of a quick cappuccino and some little pastry (standing up of course! We were trying to be cheap), and lunch was sandwiches and, occasionally, Prosecco. However, since we splurged almost every night for a great dinner, I felt that I had to capture each and every one. I'll only show you the highlights of some of our favorite meals, so I can keep it short. I split these posts up by city, in hopes that these don't get too long.


Appetizer: Baby Octopus (seriously, I thought this was going to be calamari but was delighted when they brought this dish out):

First Course: Four Cheese Gnocchi...I'm still thinking about this dish. Gorgonzola, blue cheese, and a little bit of heaven and who knows what, but this was the lightest, most flavorful gnocchi I had ever had.

Other highlights of this meal: Wonderful house wine (which seemed to the case in about 90% of the restaurants that we tried), plus wonderful service. My husband had grilled sea bass for his main course, and I had crispy fried shrimp. Our server spoke minimal English, but we understood each other with hand gestures and pointing. All in all, a great meal.

Venice, Day 2: Cichetto/Pub Crawl

We had the Rick Steve's Italy 2010 book, and in it he suggests doing a "pub crawl", which consists of going to a few different restaurants in Venice where they serve "cichetto", or small snacks, usually between the hours of 5 and 7 pm. A lot of places are stand-up and drink only, which is pretty fun - you just point at what you want in the glass case, and they'll make you a plate of it. Italian small bites? Before we even have dinner? Sign me UP!

First stop: Osteria Bancorigo

Our waiter here didn't speak much English, but after I fumbled my way through saying "cichetto?" he understood. I motioned to just make us a plate of something, so he went to prepare us a plate while we enjoyed another glass of house wine. After only a few minutes, he came back with this:


It consisted of crab salad, crab puff pastry, chicken curry, a salad of octopus and eggplant, shrimp something or other, and something with sardines. Yummm!

Next stop: Al Merca

I didn't take any pictures here; it was a stand-up only place, and Rick Steves was right when he said that it was frequented by hip, young locals. I felt like a nerd already because we were obviously tourists, so I didn't want to make it any worse by taking pictures. We had a glass of house wine here and a few popettes - basically fried balls of spinach and meat. Pretty tasty.


This was, by far, our favorite little place. It's tucked into an alleyway, where old men play cards at tables that are shaded by lush planters overhead. It had a ton of charm and we were impressed from the beginning. It also helped that their cichetto spread looked amazing (calamari! something fried and covered in sesame seeds!). This was our plate that we received:


Wait, we still have to eat dinner? Remember that we started all of this around 5 pm, so it was close to 8:30 and while we had eaten a lot of snacks (plus more than a few glasses of Prosecco), we still wanted to grab a light dinner.
So, we had dinner at Trattoria Pizzeria Nono Risorto, and of course got pizza:


It was wonderful, and the perfect end to a gluttonous evening. Next up...cuttlefish and more pasta!