My holiday destinations this year seem to have been inspired by Rick Stein’s latest TV series ‘From Venice to Istanbul’ and it is certainly true that one of the things I love about travel is trying new food and understanding the history of dishes in that destination. Venice has developed as a trading sea port and food from the area has been influenced from goods and spices brought in by merchants from the east and beyond and are evident in the cuisine to this day. Here are my must try Venetian foods:
What could be more civilised than a nice glass of Italian wine with these snacks or Cicchetti ? You will come across these laid out at numerous cafe bars, or bàcari, around Venice. Usually buzzing, these crowded bars are popular with locals and tourists alike. Cicchetti are eaten as a snack, but you could make a meal out of these delicious small bites!
A typical Venetian dish Baccala Mantecato is also a must try. Made from dried salted cod, which would have been imported by ship from colder northern seas, the dried cod is reconstituted and whipped up into a creamy mousse like texture with garlic and olive oil and served on bread or polenta – it looks a little scary but is actually quite nice, if a little fishy!
Strolling around the back streets of Venice you will come across many interesting looking restaurants in charming settings, next to the canal, a sunny square or a secret garden. Classic dishes to start with included Carpaccio, a typical Italian dish first named in Venice after an exhibition dedicated to Venetian painter Vittore Carpaccio in the 1960’s and a plate of Parma Ham with a local spicy cheese.
We love fish and seafood and wanted to try old favourites as well as something new. My all time favourite Spaghetti Vongole, a simple dish but one I converted my 12 year old son to and who now rates this as his favourite too. Seafood and pasta and a delicious Ventetian speciality of whole turbot cooked with spices, which was boned at the table and served with olives, capers and potatoes. We were only in Venice for 2 nights, so there was a limit to how much we could eat!
No trip to Venice would be complete without a visit to Harry’s Bar for a cocktail or two. With the waiters in their starched white jackets the vintage vibe here will take you back to another era! Try the Peach Bellini …