Hi everyone…this is a bit of a multiple purpose post. It gives you information on my recent visits to Venice and Milan which I mention briefly at the beginning of my most recent podcast, All You Can Eat Volume 32. And it has some details about the people I spoke with in my panel of Home Economics teachers at their conference I spoke at last fall. On the right is one of the covered malls lining the Piazza San Marco in Venice. The tiles are under about an inch of water, as was the part of the rest of the piazza, something that happens when the water rises up through the ground. Reminds me of the old Spirit of the West song, ‘And If Venice Is Sinking’.
We saw some of the platforms they have to put in the square so that people can walk into the duomo without having to wade through water when it gets really high! I have many more photos to upload in an album for you. Click here to view it. I’m also experimenting with putting some low-quality Real Video clips here. This is one of a ‘stroll-by’ I did of some street musicians .
We hit the city of canals right at Carnivale time and both the streets and canals were jam-packed with people sporting amazing masks and costumes in the Venetian tradition. Traditional foods and drinks we enjoyed included deep-fried bits of sweet bread called frittelle, which were moist, puffy and not soggy with oil…then there was a sweet which almost tasted like fruitcake but was pistachio green because of all the pistachios used, and topped with almonds. I think a fist-sized square of it cost about 4 euros, but it was worth it!
As far as beverages go, at night you could buy hot and spicy mulled wine called vin brule, yes they used the French term, but by day we started our meals with a glass of bubbly prosecco, or before we sat down we would have an aperitivo of Campari, soda, a slice of lemon and a big fat olive. That’s the way Venetians like their Campari! And don’t try to order it much past 12 noon. The bartender will say, ‘it’s finished’. They just don’t make them in the afternoon!
Two restaurant suggestions for you, the first one is right near the Fondamente Nove Vaparetto stop, which are the boats that ply the waters in and around Venice like bus lines. It’s called Algiubagio…and we actually enjoyed two great meals there, the first one featuring a delectable trio of seafood antipasti. This pic shows a salad of arugula,tomatoes, carrots and tender, tender rings of squid.
The other restaurant where we enjoyed a meal with some of my classmates who were also visiting Venice that weekend was called La Cantina, which is right on the Strada Nova near the Ca d’Oro vaparetto stop, although the actual address says it is at Campo san Felice, 3689. Don’t worry if you get lost in Venice at some point, everyone does. The second night we were there we made our way from our hotel to the Rialto district and then Piazza San Marco in just a few minutes. Think we could find our way back? No way. We found ourselves way out of the way late at night when there was hardly a person on the street. We found a restaurant open…three of the staff pored over the little map that was on the brochure for the hotel and finally said, ‘well, we don’t know where this is but if you walk down this street and kind of head off to the left you should find it.’ Not a chance, but the instructions did lead to a square and I spotted a name on the square that matched a name on our map and YAY!, we finally found our home sweet home after what seemed like hours of wandering.
Anyway, at La Cantina we started with raw oysters, and a savoury lentil soup, then eventually the wait staff brought out huge platters of roasted pork with crispy crackling and mustard, green beans, and even dill pickles! I was in heaven, my favourite food groups! The place was quite busy and we found ourselves waiting quite a while to get our food and wine once we ordered, but we found the food to be quite tasty and I think it was around just 25 Euros each.
A week later Ramona and I found ourselves in the Piazza del Duomo in Milan, and wondering what the heck was going on! It was some sort of children’s festival and the piazza and pedestrian streets around the duomo were filled with thousands of people. Every kid from 2 to teen was dressed up in some sort of costume, but what we noticed the most were all the mess-making accoutrement’s available. Big bags of confetti, cans and cans of silly string and some sort of shaving cream-like foam were for sale in the square, and the stuff was all over the place. Coming from Canada we were naturally shocked at what we would consider to be ‘littering’. I’m just glad I wasn’t on the clean-up crew responsible for trying to get rid of all that confetti. On the other hand, this is Italy. They might just wait for the rain to wash it into the sewers. Here’s a real video clip of people standing over a subway vent, at least that’s what I think it was, as the confetti and streamers fly about.
Our Milan highlights included an expensive but mostly very satisfying lunch at a restaurant called Peck. Ramona had been looking forward to her saffron-laced risotto Milanese and she wasn’t disappointed. Our problem was that we went for a full-fledged lunch but we totally full after the antipasto of Culatello di Zibello and primi of her risotto and my pasta with mushrooms and walnut sauce. After Peck the restaurant we went to Peck the deli and Peck the wine shop and the foods in the deli are so beautiful they made me want to cry. Of course the prices made me want to cry as well. I guess they get too many gawky tourists so they have a sign on the door saying ‘no photos’. 🙁
That’s okay, I don’t think a photo would do it justice. Rows and rows of beautiful chocolates, cheeses galore, spotlessly clean and well-stocked shelves full of olive oils and vinegars and….
Here at least is a shot from across the street, in case you’re wandering the streets of downtown Milan and you need a ‘lighthouse’ to guide you. The sign says that the shop was founded in 1883. Now that’s longevity.
The other beautiful things strewn around Peck the deli were these amazing Berkel meat slicers. We’d seen them in use in Venice and a classmate’s boyfriend is gaga over them. They really are stunning pieces of fine machinery. They had one from the 30’s that had a real art deco feel to it, and one from the 50’s that had that sleek sort of rocketship styling common to that era. Here’s a picture of one I found on a website that sells these things refurbished. I think they go for about $7500 U-S….meat not included. More pictures of Milan in this photo album.
Okay, now you’re at the point where the rest of the podcast material comes in. First, thanks to my sponsors for this week, Folgers Gourmet Selections and GoDaddy.com.
For free samples of Folgers Gourmet Selections coffee, visit www.folgers.com/podshow. While quantities last, act soon!
And to take advantage of GoDaddy.com offers such as 10 percent off any order, use this code when you check out: eat1
Thanks also to the teachers from THESA who took part in my panel discussion on what kids need to know about food and nutrition when they finish high school: Judy Chan, Joy Galea and Denise Lemard from BC, and Jane Edwards from Australia, for taking part in the discussion. (sorry if I got the spellings wrong!)
You also heard a piece from my Food For Thought archives that featured Mara Jernigan, formerly of Engeler Farm, now of Fairburn Farm, a bed and breakfast and cooking school in BC’s Cowichan Valley. Mara is still heavily involved in the Slow Food movement and is always looking for volunteers to help out with projects on southern Vancouver Island.