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 uncommon...you 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...