Last year, you may remember, I was in Padua searching for its most famous traditional cake whilst waiting for the rain to stop. It was almost impossible to find the pazientina but a long search led me to one of the last patisseries still making it and the only one I could find. Imagine my surprise then when a few days ago I came across the cake in Venice.
This weekend I had some friends from out of town visiting and wanted to cook something typically Venetian. I planned to serve the mazzancolle in saor from the last post, a risotto al nero di seppia—more about that in a later post—but what about the dessert? Everyone loves tiramisù it’s true, but I am a little bored making it. So I decided to come up with a completely original dessert. Something within the Venetian tradition and connected with the city’s rich history and culture. And so the Tintoretto was born.
An early morning trip to the Rialto fish market in Venice is always a treat. This morning, after coffee and a croissant at my favourite coffee bar in Venice, Torrefazione Cannaregio, I hopped across the Grand Canal at the Santa Sofia, traghetto (a traditional gondola ferryboat) and on to the fish market. I was in search of mazzancolle a type of king prawn in order to make one of the most Venetian of dishes, mazzancolle in saor.
Venice is a city that most experience on foot. Even those residents that have boats do an awful lot of walking and most of that on unforgiving flagstones, and bridges that rise and fall five feet in space of a few yards.
With all that walking, especially in the summer when temperatures regularly top 30 degrees celsius, it would seem a good idea to stop every now and again, pop into a shady bar, and have a drink and perhaps a restorative bite. Well, Venetians would agree and this is how cichéti a typically Venetian snack food came to be.
This time of year in Italy can be hot and I mean really hot. In Venice, temperatures and humidity soar making you want to leave the city and run away to the countryside. From a food point of view your body demands fresh, lean flavours to cool it to the core. Luckily, nature comes to the rescue by providing us with a large variety of summer fruit and vegetables of which a personal favourite is melon. At this time of year, Venetian shops are piled high with melons in all varieties and colours and this recipe works equally well with any of them.
We all know Venice’s reputation: exquisite, unique, and inspiring on the one hand, but packed, fragile, and confusing on the other. Many visitors to Venice find themselves both awestruck and frustrated as they get lost in its seemingly interminable maze of back alleys, all of which seem to lead back to the Piazza San Marco and its heaving crowds. If only there was an Venice app!