Saturday, June 16, 2007

Back to Food (and maybe another word or two about the Biennale)

Let me say a couple of quick words about the Biennale before I get back to food. I've put up a link to the "official" New York Times review of the show. I do not consider myself an art afficionado by any stretch of the imagination but surely as observers we all know what moves us to tears, to laughter, to joy, to despair. Mostly, I agree with the reviewer's opinions of individual works - except for the Korean Pavilion which moved me only to want to leave it as quickly as possible. I have been dreaming of a trip to the Venice Biennale for as long as I can the sheer volume of extraordinary modern art in this spectacularly ancient city. The point is perhaps the more Biennales under one's belt, the less awe and wonder. Enough said about the review...
Last word today about the show - I have left up the photo of Felix Gonzalez-Torres' stunning circles because I think they are beautiful and lend an air of calm to the page.

Let's eat!
So there's Da Fiore, Fiore, Osteria Da Fiore, Trattoria Da Fiore - it's very confusing. (I think at least two or three of those are the same restaurant.) Da Fiore is arguably the best and most expensive restaurant in Venice and it's just not what this trip is about for me. However, a stroll over the Accademia Bridge last evening revealed Trattoria Da Fiore and sometimes you just know a place is going to be wonderful. This one is. The best spritz - it actually WAS fizzy! - I've had so far followed by a Caprese salad of sugar-sweet cherry and grape tomatoes, little balls of melt-in-your-mouth buffalo mozzarella, with just the right amount of olive oil, fresh herbs, tiny ribbons of basil and crunchy sea salt. Unbelievable! A flavorful and beautiful lasagnette of ricotta and spinach with two tiny mounds of wilted and then quickly-fried spinach leaves, and a GIGANTIC, thinly-pounded veal cutlet with a lighter-than-air battered crust served with delicious french fries (of all things). The cheesecake was not like any cheesecake I've ever tasted. And to be honest, I'm still pretty much stumped for a way to describe it (something that Chris finds downright startling). It wasn't cold, it was very dense, it had a bit of chocolate in it and was served with a bit of chocolate sauce on the plate and dusted with powdered sugar. It was very tasty, not sweet at all, and the only thing I can think of is that the ratio of cheese to flour is very different than in most cheesecakes. I shall certainly talk to Chef Cheech about this when I get home.
Okay, a word about tiramisu and then we're off to the market. If you think that stuff we get in the U.S. is tiramisu? Uh-uh...tiramisu must be traditionally Venetian (yes, I will find out for sure) because it is on every dessert menu in this city and it's fantastic everywhere. It is most always served layered in a bowl - the way it should be - and even becomes a luscious gelato flavor in the right hands.
The market calls...Ciao (which, by the way I learned yesterday is a Venetian word...)

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