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Franco's favourite ... Venetian food & restaurants

Franco's favourite ... Venetian food & restaurants

Old Mar 12th, 2011, 02:20 AM
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sarge - when we were venice at the end of March a few years ago, the rialto market was full of lovely asparagus, new potatoes [ie the waxy sort you can steam and eat hot or cool and eat in salad] and of course moeche. we ate these as a starter at a restaurant along the main street on Burano, breaking our rule of not going into a place where we are invited in by the owner/waiter, and we were very glad we did. the moeche were delicious and the rest of the meal [a large fish, grilled and shared between us] equally good. I think that he was relieved not to be serving burger and chips to our children [who ate what we ate] and made a special effort!

other good things in the market were the lamb [we roasted it for our Easter sunday lunch and loved it] and fruit and salads of course.

Franco, I have never cooked seppie [we don't often see it here in Cornwall, though I'm sure they catch and export it] but i will certainly try your recipe with squid, which is plentiful and cheap here. sadly, no moeche though!
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Old Mar 12th, 2011, 05:11 AM
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sarge, you'll be in Italy at the same time as roamer, so same applies as above - of course you'll find artichokes and asparagus. It might just be that you'll have to wait until Rome for the fave; end of March seems still early for them.

Zerlina, actually, this thread is wandering afield all the time - it has been a "Rialto market ingredients" rather than a "Venetian cuisine" thread for long, so vignarola definitely fits the bill. I don't simply know enough true Venetian recipes (plus it would be a shame not to use the gorgeous produce that's available in Venice for great dishes from other regions, as well!). For example, I have absolutely no idea what Venetians are doing with their terrific cardoons. Do you know anything, Zerlina?
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Old Mar 12th, 2011, 06:25 AM
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I've never cooked cardoons, and I haven't the foggiest notion how the Venetians cook them. Googling >cardi ricetta/ricette< brought up many hits, several that seem Piedmontese, one called "alla toscana", one from the Salento, a Sicilian one, but I didn't see a Venetian one.
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Old Mar 12th, 2011, 09:12 AM
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From Wikipedia re "cardoons":

While the flower buds can be eaten much as the artichoke, more often the stems are eaten after being braised in cooking liquid. Battered and fried, the stems are also traditionally served at St. Joseph's altars in New Orleans.

The stalks, which look like large celery stalks, can be served steamed or braised. They have an artichoke-like flavor. Cardoons are available in the market only in the winter months. In the U.S.A., it is rarely found in stores, but available in farmers' markets, where it is available through May, June, and July. The main root can also be boiled and served cold.[2] Acclaimed chef Mario Batali calls the cardoon one of his favorite vegetables and says they have a "very sexy flavor."[3]

Cardoons are also an ingredient in one of the national dishes of Spain, the Cocido madrileño, a slow-cooking, one-pot, meat and vegetable dinner simmered in broth.

In the Abruzzi region of Italy, Christmas lunch is traditionally started with a soup of cardoons cooked in chicken broth with little meatballs (lamb or more rarely, beef), sometimes with the further addition of egg (which scrambles in the hot soup - called stracciatella) or fried chopped liver and heart.
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Old Mar 12th, 2011, 09:12 AM
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OH, and THANKS FRANCO!
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Old Mar 12th, 2011, 09:12 AM
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i found this on the about.com website:

http://italianfood.about.com/library/rec/blr0327.htm

all you never thought you wanted to know about cardoons and weren't afraid to ask!

NB - they are apparently quite bitter in the Spring - they are an autumn/winter vegetable.
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Old Mar 12th, 2011, 09:44 AM
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Yes, sarge, and the recipe for that cardoon soup from Abruzzo (with chicken liver and egg) is already on this thread - post of Jan. 3rd, 2008.
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Old Mar 15th, 2011, 05:04 PM
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Ok... roamer, are you listening? Here are some more fish recipes for April.

First of all, a fish we never talked about so far is branzino, sea bass. Seems not exiting? Well - it is. In Venice, you'll get sea basses like nowhere else: branzini di valle, which are breeded, but yet better than any wild sea bass - they're breeded in the lagoon!, which is the very best habitat for sea basses. In April, the first specimens of the year should arrive on the market (read the signs carefully: "branzino", i.e. standard breeded fish, don't even think about it; "branzino di mare", wild sea bass; "branzino di valle", only insiders know it's the best one by far)... and for branzino, THE classic preparation (also Venice often uses it) is still one of the best (and definitely the best if you just want to sample the admirable quality of a branzino di valle): sea bass in a crust of salt. (The internet is full of instructions how to prepare it, so I assume nobody will need me, of all amateur chefs, to provide the recipe, right?)

Next, triglie (mullets) are available most times of the year, also in April. In Venice, they're available in two qualities (rarely at the same time, i.e. usually just one or the other): triglie di fango (mud mullets, from the lagoon) and triglie di scoglio (rock mullets). While I'm usually a great fan of lagoon fish, I clearly prefer rock mullets over mud mullets, but please judge yourself. Venetians say mud mullets should be poached, rock mullets fried, and it's true that I also prefer fried mullet over poached mullet. An excellent and simple recipe is triglie con paprika: season mullets with coarse sea salt and black pepper, fry in olive oil, sprinkle with (sweet, never hot) bell pepper powder.

A wonderful recipe from Lazio, but for a fish that you should find in Venice in April, is pasta e broccoli in brodo d'arzilla - ray soup (in Venice, though, ray is called razza, not arzilla):
Put 6 hg (see somewhere above for this Italian measure!) razza in a large pot with 1.5 liters of cold water, with some vegetables (a small carrot, a piece of celery stalk, perhaps half an onion) and salt; bring to a boil, let simmer for 30 minutes. Brown a large clove of garlic (minced) in olive oil, add a large salted anchovy fillet until it falls apart, half a hot pepper (minced), 3 chopped tomatoes, cook vividly for 5 minutes. Turn off the gas (or take pan away from the electric stove), add 3 hg broccoli (the florets only), let soak up the flavour for 10 minutes (still away from the heat, mind you!). Bone the fish, pour the fish soup over the broccoli, cook for 10 minutes, break 150 grams of spaghetti in rather short pieces, add to the soup, cook until al dente, put the ray flesh back into the soup shortly before serving.

And now, finally, a truly Venetian recipe (from Locanda Cipriani): Sampietro alla carlina, John Dory with scampi. Expensive, but great! And April is considered a good month for both John Dory and scampi. Douse 5 hg of John Dory fillets and 15 hulled scampi with flour, fry in olive oil, with salt and pepper, for 4 or 5 minutes, put in a fire-proof dish and in a warm (not hot) oven. Pour off the olive oil from the pan, add 150 grams of butter, melt, add a small amount of minced parsley, fry for 30 seconds, take off the heat. Sprinkle fish & scampi with chopped pickled cucumbers (cetriolini, in Italian) and rinsed capers (5 table spoons altogether), season with lemon juice and Worcester sauce, sprinkle with a few spoons of tomato sauce (home-made, of course!!), douse with the melted butter, serve immediately (with boiled potatoes).

We're proceding from the more classic to the more unusual recipes, today: one of the less-known ingredients available on the Rialto market (and April should be a good season) are chele di granchio, crab legs. A delicious though not traditional recipe (it's a chef's creation) is beans with crab and hot peppers: soak 250 grams of dried white beans overnight, cover with fresh cold water, add two large cloves of garlic, thyme, rosemary and laurel, a small celery stalk, a small potato (peeled) and two cherry tomatoes, bring slowly to a boil, boil until tender; don't add salt or it would cause the beans to take much longer until they are tender, and also their taste would suffer. It's important not to pour the cooking water away; immediately pour enough of that water back over the beans to half-cover them. Throw away herbs and celery, mash tomatoes, potato and garlic and add the mash to the beans, season heartily with salt and pepper, olive oil and a dash of vinegar. Add the mashed crab meat (you'll have boiled the chele di granchio well in advance, and shelled the meat, which is pretty difficult, but worth it), minced hot pepper and minced fennel green. Serve hot.

Finally, granseola, the so-called sea spider (in fact, another crab species, and one of the best) - a VERY Venetian animal, and its season is winter and spring. Tough kitchen work, as well, but with great results. I use them for a very old recipe (16th century): granseola stuffed with apple. Boil 4 granseole in salted water with a piece of cinnamon bark for about 10 minutes. Shell (that's the tough part!). Throw away the brown, grey and black entrails, keep the red ones (and the white meat, of course!); there is also some meat in the legs (use a tea spoon handle). Blend crab meat, 2 apples (diced), raisins, white bread (diced), salt, pepper, ground cinnamon, sugar (yes indeed!) and 4 egg yolks. Put back into the granseola shells, some cubes of butter on top, in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes (at medium heat). Serve with a sauce made from the upper halves of the shells, cooked in white wine. Haute cuisine...
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Old Mar 15th, 2011, 06:29 PM
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One more that I forgot to add - another Venetian classic: sogliola al prosecco, sole with prosecco sauce, light, easy and delicious. The original recipe says sole fillets - I use the whole fish (disemboweled, of course) since it's tastier, I just cut away the (tiny) heads and use them for a fish stock, of which 50 milliliters go into this recipe. For the 6 hg of fillets that the recipe is asking for, you'll need 1.5 kilos of soles (no fish has less meat than the sole). Rinse the fish, dry, sprinkle with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix a table spoon of flour with 20 grams of butter. In a wide pan, bring those 50 milliliters of fish stock together with 150 milliliters of prosecco to a boil. Stir in the butter-with-flour. Put the soles into the pan, reduce heat, cover. Let simmer until done (turning them around once). Remove fish from the pan and keep warm. Mix a few cubes of cold butter into the sauce, salt and pepper to taste, pour over the fish and serve immediately with bread.
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Old Mar 16th, 2011, 12:42 AM
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Oh, franco! Thank you so much - you have been busy! I learn more about fish in Venice from your posts than from all of the cook books I have read! I appreciate the information about branzino - see it frequently, but had no idea of the the different types. Now I know what to look for. I have enjoyed ray - razza - in restaurants, but was intimidated by the bones in the fresh fish - now I can try the ray soup. The granseola stuffed with apple is intriguing - who would think of fish combined with apple? and raisins? Am I brave enough to try it? Definitely will do the sogliola al prosecco - both favorites. Again, thank you for your time and kindness - ensuring that DH and I will eat very well a nostra casa in Venezia!
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Old Mar 17th, 2011, 12:52 PM
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"ray - razza - was intimidated by the bones in the fresh fish"

Are you sure rays have bones? Aren't they elasmobranchs like sharks with no bones, just cartilage?
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Old Mar 17th, 2011, 12:56 PM
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Wow Franco, you sure do know how to make a girl hungry!

Thanks for the recipes
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Old Mar 17th, 2011, 01:52 PM
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constant - yes, I think that the ray's bones are really cartilage - but it is pretty tough stuff - not what you want to find in your soup!
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Old Mar 21st, 2012, 05:31 PM
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Hi Franco. I haven't seen you around for awhile - I hope all is well.
We are leaving for Venice (and Vicenza) on April 18. You have been so helpful in the past by providing information on what is available in Venetian restaurants and food markets (especially fish!) and what is in season. I have used many of your recipes and will be taking them with me again. Just wondering if you have any recipes that you have discovered recently, or any new restaurants to try. As always, your thoughts are most welcome.
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Old Mar 21st, 2012, 06:44 PM
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BOOKMARKING
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Old Mar 22nd, 2012, 05:49 AM
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Hello, roamer - this is my usual plea to wait a little. I'm going to reply after April 1st, i.e. after coming home from a current trip.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2012, 06:16 AM
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Roamer, I am not franco but I do have a newish restaurant recommendation in Vicenza - Antico Guelfo. Two sisters cook and the results are delicious, local and seasonable.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2012, 09:59 AM
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save
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Old Mar 22nd, 2012, 12:00 PM
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Thanks,franco, for your prompt response. I will look forward to hearing from you when you are home.
And tarquin, thanks for the restaurant recommendation. Antico Guelfo gets some great reviews on TripAdvisor. We will definitely try it. Any other suggestions for Vicenza?
We have never been there.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2012, 05:15 PM
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franco, wish I'd hit this thread a week ago. I was cooking sole for the first time (Dover sole) and that recipe for sogliola al prosecco sounds heavenly!

Good news is that I'll be back to Italy in October (or sooner) and will take this recipe with me. My adult DD is tagging along and she is a great cook. She'll be thrilled to add this to one of our dinners in Venice one night!

Grazie mille!
Paula
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