Friday, 4 December 2015

Chiccetti & Chat

We met Monica Cesarato, who was to take us on our cicchetti tour, at the foot of the glass bridge near the train station. We immediately started chatting and were delighted to discover that she knew of our little part of England.

First stop was Quanto Basta where we were to sample hot chocolate before the cicchetti tour really started. We must admit that this is the kind of place that we would have dismissed as being too 'touristy' but Monica proved that she knew her stuff as this hot chocolate was heavenly!

As we walked along the streets got quieter and we felt we were in the 'real Venice'. Our first bacari was Enoteca Roberto, where Monica introduced us to Raboso wine, fresh from a barrel behind the counter which we enjoyed with a selection of small bites.

The cheesy pumpkin fritter was especially delicious as was the crab dish.
While we were tucking in Monica explained the history of cicchetti and the reason behind the small glasses of wine being called 'ombre' - they were originally served from stalls in the shadow (ombre) of the campanile in St Marks Square. It was absolutely fascinating to listen to and Monica made it all so interesting.
On to El Sbarlefo where Monica introduced us to a white wine from the Veneto, Lugana. Both the wines we had sampled so far had their origins in Roman times - of especial interest to us, of course!

The cicchetti here were predominately fish based, apart from the spicy meatballs, and included sardine in saor and bacala manecato. The bacala differs from that in Rome which uses salt cod.Here dried cod is used, the recipe for which originated in the Norwegian Lofoten Islands. It is served on white polenta. 
Our  final  bacaro was Al Portego. Incredibly busy (understandably so) but Monica managed to order our 'ombre' and cicchetti by fighting her way to the bar.
Monica chose a pumpkin saor & a salmon ciccheti - both so delicious that I forgot the photo! This was definitely the winning bacaro for atmosphere.
Between bacaro, Monica pointed out artisan shops such as this costumiers which makes theatrical & carnival costumes to original patterns.
We stopped by Il Forcolaio Matto- a workshop where the oars and oarlocks for gondolas are made. Such beautiful craftsmanship and a wonderful smell of wood shavings.

At the end of the evening Monica pointed us in the direction of St Marks Square and we said our goodbyes, feeling like we had made a friend in Venice.

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