Smoked tuna and artichoke panini

This isn’t so much a recipe as it is a memory, brought back to life while going through some old photographs and toying with the tempting thought of a quick visit to Venice again. The memory happens to take place at the Rialto fish market, which I always love perusing even if I’m not buying any fish, just to satisfy my curiosity. To me, it’s as good as any sight to see in Venice, a living, breathing historical space of the city that... Read More

Sarde in Saor

By far one of my favourite Venetian cicchetti is sarde in saor – fried fresh sardine fillets marinated in softly cooked white onions, usually with vinegar, raisins and pine nuts, all preferably prepared the day before serving. Found in the bacari nestled along Venice’s narrow laneways, where one stops for an ombra (a tiny rounded glass of local wine) and a bite to eat, this cicchetto is just as suitable as an antipasto at the table. The sharpness... Read More

Bellini, for a celebration or two

It’s a time for celebration or two, not only for the festive season and for the well-wishing the imminent year 2013, but we’re also celebrating the arrival of our first baby, a little girl, born just before Christmas. And – for those of us in the Southern Hemisphere right now – it’s also early summer and the beginning of stone-fruit season. It seemed only appropriate to celebrate with something like a shimmering, sparkling, blushing... Read More

Italian Table Talk: Risotto in Cantina

September in Italy is largely regarded as the season for la vendemmia, the wine harvest, when most of the peninsula is busy picking the grapes that have been carefully tended to over the year. Some regions have already done it by August – places like Puglia’s far south where the intense heat ripens the local grapes fast, or up north in Lombardy where the delicate sparkling Franciacorta wines require grapes with higher acidity. Naturally, for... Read More

Valentine’s Pigeons, a recipe for lovebirds

There is a legend that recounts that Saint Valentine miraculously helped two young people fall in love by rounding up a pairs of amorous pigeons to fly around them, inspiring the Italian term for lovebirds, piccioncini, which more precisely (and aptly) translates as ‘little pigeons’. Since then, lovebirds (or little pigeons as the case may be) all over the world have been celebrating the Saint’s day on February 14th all in the name of love and... Read More

Rose petal Jam from a Venetian monastery

Waking up on the Armenian monastery of the Island of San Lazzaro, floating in the mist of the Venetian lagoon, is like waking into a dream itself. Water softly laps around the edges of the monastery and that is about all you can hear except for the occasional speed boat on its way to the Lido. I spent several weeks here over two years during my days interning as an art restorer. While I worked on the flooded etchings and photographs (one of the downsides... Read More

The art of cicchetti-ing in Venice

Venice in the quiet of the winter is when I love this city the most. There is something about the mystery of the dark, damp city that is brought out even more by the misty weather. Thomas Mann described Venice as “half fairy-tale, half tourist trap,” an observation that is still valid even a century later, and is actually, I think, one of the things that contributes to the city’s mystery and charm. For me Venice is almost always a fairytale,... Read More