Venice to taste
We can begin our journey to discover Venetian food with cicchetti (hors d’oevres) that can be found in all the bacari (pubs) counters, that must be eaten with an ombra (glass) of wine. Typical Venetian cicchetti are: fried crab claws, meat balls, half boiled eggs with anchovies, fried vegetables, moscardini (tiny octopus) with polenta, salami with polenta and toasted bread with creamed cod, i.e. cooked in milk and then creamed. However, the best hors d’oeuvre by far are the sardee in saor: these are sardines cooked and marinated with onions and vinegar and flavored with raisins and pine nuts.
For first courses, the Venetian cuisine has a lot of different specialties to offer. The risottos, made with scampi or cuttlefish, are famous, although the best known recipe is for "risi e bisi", the risotto made with peas that the Doges ate on San Marco’s day. Pasta dishes included spaghetti with clams, spaghetti with cuttlefish ink, "bigoli in salsa" (bigoli are a sort of long thick spaghetti with a hole in the middle, with an anchovies and onions sauce), and the popular pasta e fagioli, a hearty pasta and bean soup that is served in both the pubs and in the best restaurants in Venice.
For main fish courses, we recommend you try the scampi alla busara, with tomato and chilli pepper, cooked in sauce and cuttlefish cooked in sauce, all accompanied by polenta. Fried moeche is also very popular; these are small crabs fished during the changeover period (spring and fall) when their shells are soft and edible. The most typical main meat course is liver venetian style: this is soft veal liver stewed with a lot of onions.
An entire chapter is needed to talk of the castraùre, the famous purple artichokes that are grown on the islands in the lagoon, especially on Sant’Erasmo. They are rare and precious, and were recently classified by Slow Food. They can be eaten in several different ways but only during the harvesting period , which runs from the end of April until the second half of June.
All these wonderful dishes must be accompanied by Venetian wines: Prosecco, Valpolicella, Bianco di Custoza and Amarone. Finally, after the meal we recommend you try a sgroppino (lemon sorbet and prosecco) or a small glass of Bassano Grappa.
However, first you must try some typical Venetian biscuits such as "zaeti", biscuits prepared with polenta flour and raisins and "bussolà", butter biscuits made in a round shape that are wonderful when dunked in sweet Vin Santo.