Bella & Brava

Bella & Brava pizzeria

 

Rather like England’s New Forest, which received that name almost 1,000 years ago, Venice is full of things labeled novo, whose novelty is relative to the age of the city. The most important of these is the Strada Nova (New Street) which since its completion in 1871 has been the main thoroughfare from Venezia Santa Lucia train station (construction began in 1861) to the Rialto area.

Appropriately for a maritime city, the foot traffic on the Strada Nova comes in waves as tourists exit from the trains arriving at the station, and changes direction in the evening as the visitors ebb away.

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An Italian croissant?

April 13, 2017 — 11 Comments
Campo de la Bragora

Campo de la Bragora

 

It has become one of my fundamental beliefs that you cannot find croissants in Italy. There are things that look like croissants, usually called brioche or cornetti, served up and down the country for breakfast in bars, but buy one and you will soon discover the difference between these sweetmeats and the traditional salt-and-butter French classics. And by croissant, I mean the full-fat, full-French version.

Italian brioche are sweet, with sugar in the pastry and usually a glaze of apricot jam on top. To satisfy the Italian sweet tooth they often come with crema pasticcera or apricot jam inside: to have a plain one you need to ask for an empty one, or una vuota. French croissants are slightly salty and made with lashings of fresh butter which means that they melt in your mouth and don’t stick to the roof of it. Having spent two years living in Paris, for me the Italian ones just don’t cut the butter and croissants are one of the very few things I miss.

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frittata di maccheroni

Frittata di maccheroni

 

The more I learn about southern Italian cuisine the bigger the differences I see between that and northern cuisine. And, to be honest, nothing surprises me. I was recently taught this recipe by a good friend of mine from Naples and it’s already become one of my go-to favourites. As the name suggests―maccheroni in Italian is used to refer to pasta in general rather than a specific kind―this can me made with any type of pasta. In fact, it’s often used as a way of using up leftovers. I already knew that you could make delicious arancini with leftover risotto to avoid re-heating (and therefore overcooking and ruining) the rice. But this recipe is the same with pasta. Alternatively, as with this recipe, you can cook the pasta specially and just enjoy eating the dish for its own sake.

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Buone vacanze!

August 8, 2016 — 5 Comments

 

August in Italy is vacation season. At the moment, the news reports are full of exactly how many Italians have taken to the road, trains, or planes to spend their annual vacation in or outside of Italy. The August holiday peaks around the 15 August, which is the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, otherwise known as ferragosto or ‘the August holiday’.

So, I am joining my compatriots and jetting off for two weeks in the sun in Spain. Not that I’ll be leaving behind any bad weather, because August in Italy is also hot, with temperatures pushing 30 degrees celsius (86 fahrenheit). Be prepared for some Chestnuts and Truffles on holiday posts however concentrating on the wonderful Spanish and Catalan cuisine that I am going to experience.

In the autumn I will be starting a new series of video blogs to accompany the blog on my Youtube channel. If you are not a subscriber already please click on the Youtube icon on the top right of this page to do so. As a teaser for the new series I have uploaded a short video about Venice, which will feature in my first post (liked to above). Check it out and click like if you do.

So, until the next time, buone vacanze or have a nice vacation!

melanzane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aubergine, eggplant, melanzane: they sound good in any language and, in my opinion, taste even better. These have been my favourite vegetables since I was a child and my mother used to prepare melanzane al funghetto alla veneziana, a kind of cold salad of marinated aubergine. Heaven. Italy is the largest european producer of aubergine and produces more than the whole of the USA. Another reason why it plays such a large role in Italian cuisine. And it’s in season all throughout the summer.

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