Sunday, 18 September 2011

Venetian life

My erasmus year abroad has started in Venice.  A particularly pleasant day began with a trip to Rialto market, the famous market by Rialto bridge.  Back in the day, the Rialto area was the centre of commerce where all kinds of trading took place.  Still to this day, fish, fruit and vegetables are the main attractions and you can view a colourful array of stalls.

The old ladies of Cannaregio take the gondola across the Grand Canal with their shopping bags.  My house mate told me this was a good way to experience the market.  Also living in Cannaregio, I decided that it was probably a necessity (although it is only five minutes walk....)  It's only 50 cent, after all.  There's a sense of calmness you experience from the canal where you can ponder on what to cook... or you can enjoy the ride and admire the strength of the gondola men. Your choice.

View from the gondola

On this day, I decided not to cook fish because I was worried about serving it up to Venetians, where fish is their stable diet.  Instead I went to the butchers in Rialto and bought a lamb.  I wouldn't recommend lamb in Venice since it is quite can understand why.  

The weather is still great in Venice, so we went fishing the other day and we caught a couple of fish. 

With them, we made fish soup.   

Quick fish soup with venetian fish:

So you've got a pan and you're gonna chuck some olive oil in, and a chopped onion.  Some chopped parsley, and some chopped tomatoes and garlic.  If you've got any other vegetables that need using, use em.  Such as carrots, thinly sliced.   I wanna see some chilli and some salt and pepper.  Throw the fish in, keep the heads on too.  Add some white wine.  If you've got any fish stock, thats great but don't worry too much.  Taste it.  What does it need?  Maybe some tomato concentrate.  Maybe more chilli.  

I know that this 'recipe' isn't really helpful but it's just a way of showing how to cook.  I find that with savoury cooking, as long as you keep tasting, you can usually make something work by adding a little here and a little there.  

The other day we cooked some mussels that we had also fished.  My friend Jacopo had dived in and we spent a long time sorting them out and cleaning them!  But it was definitely worth it.  Here you can see two large pans that we used to cook them.  

Olive oil, garlic, white wine, parsley, chopped tomatoes, salt, pepper, chilli.  

 Heat the oil in a pan and add two cloves of garlic so that the oil will infuse the flavour.  Add the clams and the chopped tomatoes.  Add the wine, (about a glass) add the parsley.  Add 2 more cloves of chopped garlic.  Salt, pepper, chilli.  Cover and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes, test to see if the mussels are cooked.

If you want, you can boil some spaghetti and have spaghetti alle vongole.  Simply add the juices from the clams.  Otherwise they can be eaten with a salad and some fresh bread..

 Some typical venetian antipasti.  Grilled calamari.

This is a great cafe in the Lido of Venice.  They have a long panini list. Apparently the owners brought the bus from England and drove it for two weeks.  I chose the egg, rocket, prosciutto and brie panini whilst looking at the view of the sea yet feeling like the true Londoner I am at heart...

Wednesday, 7 September 2011


Demel's Chocolate Shop in Vienna.  This beautiful shop sells a wides range of Viennese chocolates and pastries such as 'Demel Torte' and the 'Demel Sacher Torte'.   I tried the 'Demel's Milch'.  A very smooth and silky with deep cocoa hints.

Intensely chocolately chocolate tart I made with 250g Nestle Pure 78%, 5 tablespoons Creme fraiche, 3 beaten eggs, 150g sugar,  finished off with 'crema alle nocciole'.  Precise method and recipe to follow soon

The 'best nutella'.  Not really nutella but the softest hazelnut dream cream.  This can be found as a croissant filling in many pastry shops across Italy. 
As the biggest chocoholic I know, I can safely say this is one of the most divine chocolates I've had in a while.  The inside is an oozing soft milky cream and the milk chocolate is ever so close to a dark fondant to give you a satifying hit of chocolate we long for.  Expensive but definitely worth travelling to Italy for.  However this is for chocolate enthusiasts who crave sweet as well as chocolate because the crema al latte is particularly sweet so may not be a favourite if you enjoy a more intense dark chocolate.

 Sacher Torte enjoyed at Café Central.  Although the cake looks very rich, it was not very chocolatey but had deep hints of honey.  It was slightly dry and needed more rum and flavours of cherry.  I think that perhaps the clientele of the cafe come for the history and beauty of the Cafe, rather than the cakes.  
This famous and magnificent coffee shop opened in 1876 and became a meeting place of the Viennese intellectual scene in the late 19th Century.  In January 1913, Josip Broz Tito, Sigmund Freud, Adolf Hitler, Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky were patrons of the establishment.

cos everyone needs a bar of that in their bags...

to be continued

Food of the world, unite.

Doughnuts with raspberry coulis and toasted nuts
Lemon cheesecake, poppy seed cake, baklava and apple almond tart in Croatia
Wandering around a fruit and veg market in Budapest
Vienna is known for it's coffee shops, which serve a wide range of beautiful pastries and coffees and this one came along with a pianist to accompany the luxury theme.  
The never ending taking pictures of food ends here for a short while.  Why?  Because there is a limit to how much you can remember to write about.  The pictures serve as a type of memoir and the camera becomes an object used to record your thoughts and your enthusiasm for the food that has been captured in full flavour.   And I want to write everything about gelato, about borek, about apple strudels, about goulash, about the most flavoursome and colourful pizzas, about CHOCOLATE CHOCLATE CHOCLAT  and about poppy seed pastries, about sacher torte and about coffee shops as beautiful as museums.
An adventurous mix or a mis-translation?
 And then I just want to stick all the pictures up and not write anything and let your imagination run wild.  Because at the end of the day I think that I have told you everything there is to know just by showing you I care enough to load this page with food from Italy, Croatia, Hungary, Spain and Austria ....

I'll get home and all I'll want to do is boast about the succulent duck confit my french mother has just prepared for me.  Or the moist baby lamb with fluffy basmati, ratatouille and rocket and goats cheese salad we had for dinner the night before.  And I'll realise that noone really reads any of this stuff. They just want to drewl over the pictures and nod to themselves at the descriptions because you know what it is if you're keen enough to look at this page, and accept that at the end of the day we are not literary fans or critics.  We just want a bit of sugar and a bit of spice as enlightenment into our day to help us out with organising our muddled thoughts of food of what we're going to eat next for dinner or serve up at our next dinner party.

Apple strudels 

Goulash prepared by a handsome chef

American stall in Viennese world food festival

Don't get me wrong, this is not a way of getting out of critically writing about every food I have savoured during my travels, because I will probably get round to that.  I just want to share some pictures before they become devalued and forgotten day after day.

chicken schnitzel in austria
Beware that the pickled pepper doesn't burn your tongue

Linguine, fettucine and spaghettini

Pizza al taglio 
Pizza No. 1:  Buffalo mozarella, fresh tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, fresh olives.
Pizza No. 2: Rocket, torn buffalo mozarella, fresh tomatoes.
IN ITALY, when it comes to pizza toppings, moderation is not it's first name.  Italians know their pizzas.  Of course they must do since on average every family in Italy has at least one pizza dinner a week and pizzas usually act as a casual daily snack. Here you can see that the kind gentleman (I call him that because after all he is cutting us a slice of the best pizza)  is slicing as much or as little as we like.   You just pay per average weighed slice.  I'm not advertising it as such, I'm just writing about the action that is being performed.

As you may or may not be able to notice, the arancini have been half dismissed by my sister in this picture.  Despite their ever so slightly crunchy exterior, their stringy cheesiness caused by the mozarella and their rich meatiness, she is far too preoccupied with the brilliant pizza wrap.  Inside you will find grated grana padano, generous helpings of bresaola and fresh rocket in a thin wrap made of pizza dough where the bread is just hot and ever so slightly toasted after being placed in the oven along with its friends.

Now when I mention this spicy penne with king prawns, fresh tomatoes and rocket you'll just laugh.  Meh, I did too when I saw it.