What We’re Eating & Drinking: Venetian Goodies and Quintarelli Giuseppe
This week we’ll be in Venice for dinner, eating… you guessed it, pasta! But not just the world’s favorite starch, probably fish as well. Baccalà or cod is the most popular in the city of water, especially in the form of Baccalà Mantecato. Being such an international stop though, there is a bit of every Italian region represented on most menus, which means decent versions of pesto pasta from Genova, tagliatelle al ragu from Bologna, and penne all’ arrabbiata from the South can be found anywhere. The trick really is hunting down the authentic Venetian restaurant among the hundreds of tourist spots that populate Venice’s winding alleyways! We’re also enjoying a wine that we first saw at Yannetelli’s in Cold Spring, which they have displayed in an important-looking wooden box, with a 3-digit price tag. We were lucky to find it at a fraction of the cost in Venice and it’s delicious!
Christine: I remember wandering the streets of Venice last fall, having been warned about the tourist-y food and hoping that we wouldn’t stumble upon one for the only meal we were eating in the city. Luckily we found a tiny restaurant tucked in an alley. It was lunchtime and the place was filled with Italian men dressed suits and working clothes and we figured we’d hit on a good spot. Incidentally, I remember that Ray had some sort of fish. Of course Noah and I split several plates of pasta. I remember that wine, too! It’s so fun you found it there. I don’t remember drinking it, though. Maybe we’ll pick up a bottle for the weekend–if it’s not a hundred bucks!
What We’re Talking About: Does anyone ever really get to know this watery land?
I love this quote from NBC news that comes up when you search for Venice: “Venice appears to have more nicknames than street names. It’s known as the “Queen of the Adriatic,” the “City of Water,” “City of Masks,” “City of Bridges,” “The Floating City,” and “City of Canals. How about the “Floating Queen City of Water, Masks, Bridges and Canals”? Oh, and they forgot “Tourists”, “City of Tourists”. Venice has all of these things and it really is breathtaking, every single time, but on this our sixth or seventh visit to the place, I’m starting to wonder if it’s possible to ever get past all the tourism! I’ve had glimpses of what a Venice without all those German, Japanese, Dutch, French, American, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Saudi, Blah, Blah, Blah, would be like, but it’s always just a fleeting moment. Much like downtown New York, the locals are living parallel lives with the tourists, sharing the same 118 little islands that make up the city, but crossing paths sparingly. Occasionally, we mistakenly stumble onto one of these hidden alleyways. Immediately, the clatter dies down and the cobblestone lanes are no longer covered by marching sports shoes. A couple appears, holding hands and speaking Italian to each other! The neighborhood cafe in front of a narrow canal is tiny and charming, and there are no pictures of food on the menu! From the table outside, you notice a small 1500s era bridge just as a boat glides under it, and if you squint a bit, you can see yourself in a Renaissance scene taking place right on the very spot. None of that has happened today during our mid-summer visit, but I’m happy to have spent a few hours walking through these beautiful streets once again anyway. Now on to packing for the good ol’ U.S.A!
Christine: Like a small town American girl from upstate New York is wont to do, I fell in love with Venice when I was there (grimace), but maybe the very reason the city became an object of my affection was because it IS so difficult a place to know. I’m like that with men and jobs and friends and other things, too–always going after the elusive, the convoluted, the intangible. I mean the incontrovertible beauty of the place is impossible to deny–making it an easy repository for the romantic hopes and dreams of ten thousand tourists. Also, my connection to water (the Hudson River–here, or the Atlantic Ocean–where I spent summers as a child) is tried and true. [Last weekend when we were in New Hampshire, I found myself feeling a bit claustrophobic after a few days because of the land-locked nature of the state.] Though you visiting the place as many times as you have (and for so many different reasons and occasions), makes me think it just might be a city that doesn’t want to be known and maybe that’s okay, too.