I know, I know, I owe you "foodie" stuff. But first let me say we just got back from opening day at the Biennale - I cannot even believe I'm writing those words! - and it is more than I ever imagined. And I've only just started to see what the art world has brought to Venice. I've posted a new link to Randy Kennedy's blog - he's the arts writer for The New York Times who's been here covering the show.
Okay, back to the "comedy" -
For my foodie friends - first night dinner at Alle Testiere was perfect. We were late, they held the table although they only have about 24 seats. They offer a true market-based menu; the owner - Luca - tells you what they've got and you order. We had a light and amazingly delicious tiny shrimp and pear salad with pink grapefruit sections, fresh and oven-dried cherry tomatoes, served over fresh, delicate greens. Pasta course - ricotta and zucchini ravioli with strips of zucchini and oven-dried tomatoes. Next I had unbelievable monkfish - two pieces each wrapped in prosciutto - and served with a rainbow of fresh vegetables brunoise. Marcia had a filet of lagoon sole - absolutely delicious. Tiramisu - the real thing, in a bowl, light and luscious - and a gorgeous lemon apricot cake for dessert. As I said, perfect.
Time for bed - as a matter of fact, way past time for bed. With a prayer for a big green suitcase to show up in the morning.
Friday a.m. - they found my bag. Yippee - now all I had to do was wait around for the call about when they'd actually deliver it. Well, that's why god made cell phones, isn't it?
I found a note in the living room from Marcia saying she'd gone to find cappuccino and food. I wanted that, too. I called and she told me where to find her. I'd been meaning to tell her about the fabulous breakfast buffet at La Rivista, the little restaurant at Ca' Pisani where I'd stayed in '05 - remember Chris??!! As I followed her directions, I realized that's exactly where she was. That first cappuccino is always so ono!
Take a walk around the neighborhood and get oriented. Wait for the call. Wait for the call. No call. Lunchtime.
A real find in the San Vio section of Dorsoduro - Osteria Vescio Forner - our first spritz and our first experience with cichetti - the Venetian version of tapas - definitely the way to go. Oven-dried tomatoes stuffed with tuna, crostini, silky polenta with grilled tomato and spinach, corn-meal coated and fried green olives on a stick, a spinach and ricotta "patty" coated and cooked in a similar manner. Unreal. And hanging just over the bar where we sat, a poster by our favorite illustrator/guest columnist in the NY Times, Maira Kalman (see photo to the left)...
Home again, home again...yes, to wait for the bag. While I'm waiting, let's get this computer thing handled. I called Contessa Anna, the lovely lady who owns this palazzetto and she told me to come up and she'd sign me on. As I walked up the stairs to the piano nobile, she got the call. My bag was on its way - molto bene!!
Okay, then. Get unpacked, put on some clean clothes and let's get ourselves out to dinner! Il Refolo in Santa Croce on a little piazza beside a tiny canal came highly recommended and looked perfect. Except, of course, we didn't have reservations and every table - and then some - was spoken for. But our timing was impeccable. As we got the bad news a couple vacated the ONE high table with two bar stools just outside the door. "Could we sit here?" I asked. "For a drink, yes," the young waitress replied. "How about for dinner?" She asked the owner, a very savvy restaurateur, and not only did they let us eat at this table, they set it with the same linen tablecloth they use on all their tables. Classy, classy, classy. Later in the evening they'd haul out a honkin' big piece of plywood from god knows where to accompany a huge party for which there was no room on the piazza, either - like I said, a savvy restaurateur. More spritzes - you can never have enough - salads - both of us in need of live food - and a killer pizza with eggplant, anchovy, zucchini flowers and mozzarella - simple is often best. Oh, they SPLIT THE PIZZA IN THE KITCHEN - no, we didn't ask them to do it - and it was presented as beautifully as any fancy food would have been. Did I mention this guy is a really savvy restaurateur??
Had enough to eat? I'm ending this here - I know I still have to catch you up about Saturday and about Biennale opening day and I will...I'm going to see if I can figure out how to get several new photos up to illustrate this post.
Ciao, mi amici...