Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Missing Venice, Bellinis and Veal Rissoto

Does everyone do this? You go somewhere amazing (in my case Venice in June), and you come home with this gaping sense of longing -- longing for the landscape, the architecture, fascinating people, the music (Vivaldi, Mozart), and of course, the food and wine.
Our last day in Venice, we were lucky to find a perfect jewel of a trattoria hidden among the sometimes mediocre tourist trap restaurants close to St. Mark's square. From the moment we walked into Trattoria alla Rivetta, I knew we were going to love this place.


The owner (I'm guessing) was a small older man who greeted us as if he'd known us all our lives and was ever so pleased to finally see us again. The rest of his lively staff treated us as if we were their best longtime customers. We squished into the seats around our tiny table in a small back dining room between a table of happy gondoliers one one side of us and a group of pleasant Italian businessmen on the other. Our waiter was a rather small man who ran his area of the restaurant with a benevolent military-like efficiency. After my husband and grandson ordered, I asked our waiter about the risotti dishes. He told me (didn't suggest but told me) I should have the day's special rissoto which was a veal rissoto stuffed red bell pepper served with eggplant. I obeyed and ordered it.  Not only was this veal risotto one of the best things I've ever eaten, but so was the side of eggplant. The risotto was just (my version of) perfect -- not too firm but not mushy either -- just the perfect texture smooth and creamy with just the slightest bit of firmness. The flavor was beautifully savoury -- not overly flavored with herbs, salt or gobs of tomato sauce -- rich and clean with a lite flavor of tomato, garlic and olive oil. The eggplant was just as good, well almost -- melt in your mouth moist with a bit of parmesan reggiano and mozarella (I think?) and again, just the right amount of olive oil and tomatoey, garlicky flavor. With this, we had the house wine and a basket of really good (of course) bread. As we were eating, the gondoliers next to us began to sing -- one of those crystalized in your memory forever perfect moments.
Anyway, I really would like to recreate this meal or at least try. I've searched my cookbooks and the internet, but haven't found anything yet. I did try to make the eggplant the other day, but it turned out dry (too many bread crumbs?) and not even close in the flavor department. Maybe this is just one of those things that can't be re-created here in the states -- don't have the right 'stuff' here -- not as pristine, fresh or whatever? I've been trying for years to re-create the most deliciously simple and tasty ham and cheese sandwich I had in Glendaloch, Ireland years ago -- can't do it. I guess we don't have the right kind of flour here for the brown soda bread or the ham or cheese for that matter.
But of course, we have our own special good things to eat on this side of the pond as well -- such as the really out of this world delicious peaches that grow here in Texas. My outrageously extravagent cobalt blue champagne flutes (picture below) arrived from Murano yesterday, so I'll be placating myself this evening with Texas style Bellinis. Okay, I know they might not quite equal the nectar served in Harry's bar either but pretty close. Life is good -- chin chin. . .

Cafe Florian

Fingernail Moon Over St. Mark's Square

Outrageous Champagne Flutes -- Murano

Leaving Venice


Jessica said...

I love all of these intimate pictures of Italy. Breathtaking! I feel like I was there with you. Maybe someday ;-)

Love you!

Jessica said...

I'm happy you linked to this post. I've always loved it. Beautiful photos.

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