Tag Archives: veneto

Introducing Veneto: A Cover Preview

Some of you might remember when, about a year ago now, I announced I was writing a cookbook. You might remember I said it would be called Veneto: Recipes from an Italian Country Kitchen, and that it was going to be published in July 2017 by Faber. Some of you might also recall the long premise, and the fact I said it had thus far been a rollercoaster of emotions.

Well, the process has now come full circle. And I’m here today to give you a bit of exciting news.

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My Venice Food Guide (New Edition)

Venice October 2015

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Venice is one of those cities that will never cease to amaze. Its beauty – so elusive, always on the verge of fading away – moves crowds. Its charm never comes amiss, and yet so much of it is invisible to those who don’t dare to explore a little further. For them, Venice will always just be a just handful of gorgeous landmarks that are, alas, often too crowded to be truly enjoyable. But for those who take the time to adventure beyond the beaten track reward awaits, in the form of suggestive alleys, stunning palettes, picturesque canal views, and glimpses of daily life in this charming city.


In this sense, one could think of Venice as a city with many faces. It has a shiny facade made of glittering palazzi and luxury hotels, fancy cafés and chic restaurants. On the other side of the spectrum is a backdrop of crass vendors selling cheap merchandise. In the middle is its true soul – its most enjoyable side, made of residents, students, workers, normal people. This is the side of Venice I encourage people to go and find, far beyond the crowds. That’s the side of Venice I wished everybody would see.


Venice’s food scene reflects this multifaceted soul. On the one hand, you’ll find the finest dining catered to the global elite. On the other, dodgy eateries dispatching rubbery pizza by the slice or microwaved lasagna. But once again, the truth is in the middle, which means that Venice’s truest, most exciting cuisine is to be found in neither places, but rather in a handful of osterie, restaurants and wine bars (especially the wine bars! no one does wine bars better than Venice) where history and atmosphere meet an active engagement in preserving an aspect of the Venetian food culture (being this a ritual, a recipe, or some rare local ingredient) and a continuous commitment to serve good, honest food. This is where I like eating; where I like taking friends; and where I like showing visitors for a deeply Venetian experience.


With this in mind, I gathered a few of my favourite places to eat and drink in Venice and put them together into this Venice Food Guide. The premise is, I don’t believe there’s still such a thing as Venice’s best-kept secret. When it comes to good spots to eat in Venice, rest assured that every restaurant, every hole in the wall in the city has been written about, reviewed, critiqued, rated, found. You’ll find tourists, few or many, wise or clueless, pretty much wherever you go. And yet neither is this a bad sign nor does it lessen a place’s worth. I’m all for sharing the experience with whoever is interested in discovering part of Venice’s culture through its food. This, after all, is the ultimate scope of this guide, which I hope you’ll find useful, reliable and, most of all, enjoyable.

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A Polenta Fruit Cake from Veneto

Happy new-ish year! Hope you had some lovely, peaceful, restful, glass-clinking, food-filled holidays. Ours were unusual: we spent a big chunk of them at the beach eating avocado on toast in true Aussie spirit while humming Frank Sinatra’s Christmas songs. Surreal.

And now, without even noticing, the holiday season is almonds gone. It was all so understated this year, I barely realised that today is 6th January. In Italy, we celebrated Epifania, the day when the three kings show up on the nativity scene, and also, the day when the Befana – the old witch who used to bring gifts to Italian kids before the whole Santa thing came up – descends into people’s fireplaces to fill up stockings. In my sock, I would find the simplest things –mandarins or clementines, a few sweets, perhaps colour pencils. It wasn’t as big of a deal as Christmas, but we all liked to keep the tradition alive.

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Sweet Potato Pinza for All Saints

This sweet potato pinza is a typical Venetian cake consumed in occasion of Ognissanti, on November 1st. All Saints (Ognissanti) and the All Dead Souls (Giorno dei Morti) are still relatively hearth-felt festivities in the Italian tradition, and both are celebrated with rituals as much as traditional foods.

Both festivities seem to be of Celtic origin. For Celts, the new year began on November 1st, in correspondence with the end of the farming cycle. Divinities were called on earth to bless the new farming cycle and so, on the night between October 31st and November 1st, spirits would walk the earth, sharing with the living in this special time of the year.

When Christianity took over, the festivity of Samahain (from which Halloween originated) was turned into the Christian celebrations of All Saints and of All Dead Souls, while still maintaining the semblance of the original pagan cult.

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