Day 2 Italy: A Day of Cooking in Venice

November 22

Our wedding day at All Souls Church in NYC
Our wedding day, November 22, 2003,  at All Souls Church in NYC

Today is our anniversary. Ten years of wedded bliss. Well, perhaps not every moment was bliss … who actually lives like that? It has been pretty amazing so far.

with Enrica
with Enrica Rocca

I had an idea a few weeks ago that it might be fun to find a local chef that does cooking classes, similar to what I do at home, and do it together in Venice. After noodling around the internet and just not sure which program would be the best, I reached out to our concierge who suggested someone local. She is also about to have a cookbook published: Enrica Rocca. the timing could not had been better: she was canceling the regular class on Saturday due to a promotional event in Milan for the book, so we ended up having a private class with her on Friday, and it was amazing.

Rialto Vegetable Stand
Rialto Vegetable Stand
Rialto Fish Market
Rialto Fish Market

The arranged meeting location was the market side of the Rialto Bridge. She was waiting for us with her adorable dog, Soya. After a few introductions we were off to shop the market. We immediately felt like we were old friends, talking about food and travel as we meandered through the streets.  As we entered the Market  I thought I had died and gone to heaven. The vegetable vendors alone rocked my world – the fish and meat vendors … no words. The freshest, most beautiful ingredients anywhere. The variety available was just stellar. My recommendation: if you are ever in Venice, even if you don’t go to shop, you need to at least go and walk around, just to appreciate the scope of what is offered.

Discussing food (what else?) with Enrica Rocca
Discussing food (what else?) with Enrica Rocca
A variety of artichokes.
A variety of artichokes.

After zig-zagging through the streets and stands it was time to a stop at a famous bàcari called All’Arco. Bàcaris are tiny hole-in-the-wall eateries that offer local wines and bar snacks called cicchetti. Some offerings are simple and some are quite elaborate. For most Venetians bàcari serve as a spot for a quick lunch which was just what we did.

Slow Food "Snail of Approval."
Slow Food “Snail of Approval

IMG_8634

Larry enjoying a cicchetti and spritz at All'Arco
Larry enjoying a cicchetti and spritz at All’Arco
Cicchetti offerings
Cicchetti offerings

After a few cicchetti and a Spritz we headed to her house, winding through the streets of the Dorsoduro neighborhood. Our walk was peppered with interesting and silly tidbits about Venice and its famous inhabitants. One of which was Niccolo Tommaseo, author of the Italian dictionary and also an early supporter of Italian unification.

Niccolo  Tommaseo statue
Niccolo
Tommaseo statue

His statue (unfortunately) has been amusingly dubbed “the book shitter.” Purely based on the location of the books on the statue.

Making a sauce with the shells of the gamberi rosso (red shrimp).
Making a sauce with the shells of the gamberi rosso (red shrimp).
Pasta with Gamberi Rosso
Pasta with Gamberi Rosso
Romagna Artichoke Salad
Romagna Artichoke Salad

Once back to her house we got to work on our dishes. Some incredibly simple and some required a little more work and time. But in the end each and every dish was delicious beyond our expectations.

Baby Octopus Salad
Baby Octopus Salad
IMG_8677
Larry cooking the monkfish cheeks.
Monkfish Cheeks over Saffron Cauliflower Puree
Monkfish Cheeks over Saffron Cauliflower Puree

The old adage is so very true – sometimes the simplest things are the very best.

Wild Stuffed Venetian Duck with Braised Treviso
Citrus Breaded Baby Mackeral
Citrus Breaded Baby Mackeral

I’m not sure if it was that, or the fact that Larry and I were doing it together, in Italy on our anniversary; but all I can say is that it was a glorious day.

We wandered back by foot to the hotel in a dreamy food coma haze, happy and sated. What better way to spend our special day.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Lisa Reina says:

    So fun to read – I am so happy you enjoyed your anniversary. What an amazing day!

  2. I also went to one of Enrica’s classes in 2010 – I happened to be the only one there- and it was one of the best classes I went to. I still rave about it to any one who will listen (so it is great being able to write here on your post). I LOVED the dishes you made.

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