I’m not sure whether i’ve said before but Elix and I love to go on mini-breaks and over the past few years have ventured to Amsterdam, Prague, Budapest and Venice. I will definitely blog about Amsterdam at some point – such an amazing place but for today I think I’ll tell you about Venice – what we did and what we ate!
I’ll set the scene – I had recently quit my job so was incredibly relaxed and happy, the February weather in Venice was beautiful – sunshine and blue skies, warm enough to wear just a cardigan and so bright we had our sunglasses on most of the time!
It will come as no surprise that our main aim of the trip was to potter, chill out and eat!
This was our second trip to Italy – the first being Rome back in 2005 for New Year when we went with Mum, Dad and Jack. My memories of that trip involve being amazed at the Vatican and then eating the best Pizza iv ever eaten, trying my first calzone and being stumped in a home-style restaurant where you picked your pasta dried or fresh, picked the shape and then picked the sauce – tailor-made dinner! Hence I was excited to see what treats Venice had to offer.
I am a huge fan of the Polpo restaurants in London which serve Venetian tapas style dishes – fritto misto, meatballs, mini pizzas, arancini and more and I was not disappointed when we arrived in Venice to find the same sort of food on offer the only difference….it was SO MUCH MORE DELICIOUS!
On our first evening in Venice, Elix and I were delighted to find a bar that did happy hour – not only was it 2-4-1 on Aperol Spritz’s (i introduced a sceptical Elix to these and she was an instant fan) but there was a huge spread of cicchetti on the bar and it was help yourself!
Cicchetti is traditional in Venice – it is little bite size nibbles of food – mouthfuls of Venetian delight – perfect to eat alongside some Aperol Spritz or white wine whilst people-watching sitting at the bar.
We ate mini bruschetta topped with tuna mix, tomato and basil salsa and a roasted red pepper mix – all were bitesize crunchy pieces of sweetness. We also ate what I can only describe as deep-fried bruschetta pieces – some had a chilli spice to them and others were dusted in cracked black pepper and salt. Very crispy and crunchy – an ideal snack with the Aperol before dinner.
Following a suggestion from the good old Lonely Planet, Elix and I spent a good hour wandering around the back streets near Rialto Market to find All’Arco which is a tiny bacaro (small, wine bar), standing room only with a bar packed with different types of cicchetti and the house wine on tap. I was in charge of ordering and due to the noise in the packed bar thought it was easy to simply point at the cicchetti which took my fancy. We ended up with some mini toasted sandwiches filled with creamy rich cheese and prosciutto, several bruschetta topped with everything from smoked cheese and anchovy to cod paste, ham and thinly sliced celery to cheese and sun-dried tomato.. Elix tried the house white wine and I stuck with my holiday tipple of choice – Aperol Spritz. The bustling atmosphere was generated with a mix of tourists from all over the place as well as locals – a really relaxed, authentic, tasty and cheap lunch and I would recommend this find to anyone who finds themselves in Venice.
When Elix and I go away we always keep a look out for restaurants which are off the beaten track so if we see somewhere we fancy as we pootle about during the day we will return later that evening. This was we can try more local places which will give us a taste of the real city and see what the locals get upto. We weren’t disappointed in Venice. A traditional Italian close to the Jewish quarter gave me the tastiest, lightest Pasta Vongole iv ever tasted – it was very garlicky, balanced with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of parsley all which lightly coated the spaghetti. Elix is pretty sure she had a pepperoni pizza which she seems to recall was lovely – whatever it was she polished the whole thing off!
On our final day as we pottered on back from the Gallerie dell’Accaedmia we came across a beautiful little square and took the opportunity to sit outside in the sunshine (yes! bright sunshine in the middle of February!), write our postcards and enjoy our final pizza and a bottle of wine. We found the quality of wine in Venice was so good that the house wine was delicious everywhere we tried it. I tend to be somewhat of a snob with wine here in the UK – not because im an expert but because I know what I like and cannot stand a bad wine, in Venice this was not the case and I was happy to try anything! This was my only margarita pizza of the trip and it was lovely – so much taste and creamy rich cheese balanced with sweet garlic and tomato sauce with a sprinkle of oregano on top, the base was thin and crispy and made for a perfect lunch in the sunshine – I would never normally order a plain cheese and tomato pizza (always usually seafood or anything with anchovy on, or, a hawaiian!). Instead of a side salad we ordered a side of roasted vegetables with our lunch and were presented with beautifully cooked juicy peppers, bitter aubergine, crunchy courgette and sweet tomatoes. It was the perfect way to end our trip and a lovely penultimate meal.