I’m the kind of girl who thinks with her stomach. Most days I spend the morning fantasising about what I’ll be eating for lunch and if an evening at a restaurant is on the horizon I’ll find myself poring over the online menu and salivatingin the privacy in my own home so as to avoid the awkward saliva wipe at the table in the presence of a waiter or waitress. Quite simply, I want to order and eat everything.
It’s with this is mind that when booking a holiday, no matter what the duration be it the prospect of 3, 7, 10 or 14 nights of dining out (or at least enjoying street picnics) in a place which boasts its own delicacies, traditional dishes and above all a culture and way of life which centres around food, I’m practically planning what I want to eat before I’ve even packed my toothbrush.I recently contributed to this foodies guide of Italy because when I think “food capital of the world”, I think Italy. Pasta, pizza, sea food, canollis….if it’s Italian, I’m eating it. Italian dishes boast overwhelming flavour but are usually recognisable by their simplicity with many dishes having only four to eight ingredients. Its the quality of the ingredients being relied on more than elaborate preparation. Much like the UK and their individual delicacies (Oatcakes in Stoke, Parmo in Newcastle.. etc) the various regions of Italy specialise in their own cuisine and Venice, “the city of love” is no different.
I’ve harped on about my love for Venice before and if you follow me on any social media channel you’ll know of my love for the place which I call “my city”.
Whenever I visit Venice (I’ve been three times now!) I feel as though I’m going to be boarding my plane back home a good stone heavier. My love of food from the sea is well catered for by the many restaurants which line the dimly lit streets that wind a maze around the island and its many canals. With these restaurants offering up set menus that cater purely for tourists and their more simplistic palettes I’ve found it best to follow the locals, this is the way to find the most traditional and mouth watering of Venetian meals. – this way you’ll find some mouth watering meals right in the heart of Venice.
One restaurant I’ve been back to on all three trips is a lively restaurant Trattoria Alla Madonna which is situated up a small side street near the Rialto bridge. This is usually the case with the Trattorias in Venice, the more tucked away and unassuming from the outside, the more delicious the food which works its way onto your plate. Fried sardines, spaghetti with clams, seafood risotto – I’ve began working my way through the entire menu. I’m chomping at the bit to get back there and sample their take on spaghetti with squid ink.
Risotto is one of my favourite dishes hands down, and its by luck that it’s also one of the most popular dishes in Venice. Served plain, with sea food or with beans, Risotto is – head to Trattoria al Gatto Nero on the colourful housed island of Burano, famed for its fish dishes, to sample some of the best Risotto in Italy – even Jamie Oliver has visited this unassuming restaurant to be taught Risotto from the master Ruggero Bovo.
You can’t visit Italy or Venice without partaking in a little gelato time. With a rainbow of flavours on offer, Tiramisu, Pistachio, Melon, Mint, Lemon, Caramel… its the perfect cool me down on a hot day, or a tasty treat mid afternoon… who am I kidding, you’re in Venice. I had gelato in the morning, then again in the rain, and again in the evening as I strolled around St Marks Square. There are no rules when it comes to gelato.I’m usually the girl scouring the menu for the meal which sounds the most bizarre. Travelling with my “brother the chef” to Venice meant that our restaurant trips were filled with a veritable smorgasboard of foodie facts and came with translations of the more colourful of dishes. He would often call over to the chefs “what would you order if you were eating here?” and then we’d be met with plates of intriguing but delcious tasting food. During my second trip to Venice a customer in the restaurant next to us was eating spaghetti coated in what looked like tar. After consulting my “brother the chef”, I learned that the dish was spaghetti with cuttlefish ink – a Venetian delicacy and a favourite with the locals. Despite its… interesting aesthetic, I vowed to try it on my return and I did. Its a surprising but taste sensational. I had mine served with clams and artichokes (very popular in Venice) and it has my mouth watering as I type about it now.
I’m planning a trip back to Venice as soon as crucial funding allows it. Obviously the sights are just as picturesque as they look and are a massive selling point for the island, but the food, oh the food…