Well, my Venice trip ranks among the top 3 trips I've ever taken. Over the next few blogs, I'll recap my Venetian adventure in words, recipes and photos.
Prego...DAY 1: After 12 hours (and over into another day), we arrived in Venice a little travel weary and jet-lagged but safe and sound. The city on water is absolutely beautiful and as romantic as a picture postcard. To save time and money, four of us shared a water taxi (different from a water bus) from the airport to the apartment. Traveling with some speed on the water was in breezy contrast to a very hot and humid day.
After the last couple in our group arrived safely, and because we knew we’d be tired, we walked to a nearby restaurant and our fluent-in-Italian group member ordered us dinner family style – a meal which included grilled vegetables, razor clams (a flavorful local crustacean) stewed in broth, spaghetti marinara with shrimp scampi (see photo) and a platter of grilled fish e.g. sardines, sea bass, tuna, branzino, etc. Everything was wonderfully appetizing and set a culinary bar that we'd compare to all our other meals.
DAY 2: Today is the annual Regatta de la Doge, in which every gondola driver and many other Venetians participate. Because all grocers and most restaurants are closed for the festivities, we purchased different antipasti dishes to satisfy our appetites, as we sat along the Grand Channel and watched the uniquely decorated regatta boats pass by. Our menu included marinated artichoke hearts, calamari salad, assorted olives, melon slices wrapped in prosciutto, focaccia dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar...and, of course, wine. Later that evening, we dined out again. My favorite fish of the evening was the fettuccine (hand made by the chef) de tutti mar or seafood pasta, filled with fish and crustaceans of every local kind.
Since we are eating lots of bread with every meal, here's a basic recipe for Focaccia (makes one 9x13 loaf):
1 Pkg. active dry yeast (2-1/2 tsp)
3/4 to 1 cup warm water
4 Cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1 tsp salt
6 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh chopped rosemary (or Italian seasonings mix)
Coarse salt & cracked black pepper
1. Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup of the warm water, and let sit 10 min. until bubbly. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, yeast mixture and remaining water. Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon and then your hands.
2. Transfer to a floured work surface and knead by hand for a few minutes, until smooth and elastic. Place in a well oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
3. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Punch down dough and place on an oiled baking sheet, forming into a rectangle. Dimple the top surface with your finger tips, and then drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with coarse salt, cracked pepper and rosemary (or Italian seasoning).
4. Bake ~20 min. or until golden brown, turning the baking sheet halfway through. Cool to room temperature and then cut into 1-1/2" squares. Cut the squares in half creating a top and bottom for each.
Tourist Tip from Venice #1:
Only tourists ask for a cappuccino after a meal; both caffe latte and cappuccino are considered only breakfast drinks to Italians. Trust me, if you ask, heads will turn.