Farmer’s Market Category

An EDD-ter’s Tour of Italy: Venice

After desperately navigating a mega-riot of cars at the bus terminal in Venice, and saying a fond farewell to our trusty rental car, we met our guide Takayo who took us to our hotel.

Honestly, I have absolutely no idea how we would have ever done it without her. Venice was by far the hardest city to navigate without walking in circles, triangles and rectangles first. If it wasn’t for its supreme charm and romantic waterways, it could feel like trying to find your way out of an M.C. Escher drawing.

Make no mistake that Venice is a tourist town and the prices for everything from Carnival masks to fish charged by the kilogram make it one of the most expensive places to visit in Italy. But its fascinating history as a hub for trade and politics seep deep into its ancient walls, streets, and wood piles upon which this city stays afloat. And you feel it.

One of the highlights of my time in Venice was visiting the Rialto Fish Market – a place where it seems you’re walking underwater while swaths of sea colors dance around you.

Cuttlefish or squid ink pasta is one of the most famous dishes from Venice. Our very well-read guide Mr. Sabino tipped us off to a local joint called Rosticceria Gislon which supposedly had an excellent Spaghettini Nero and other tipico dishes without the ridiculous prices.

Downstairs was an open a la carte trattoria with hot and cold dishes (it was extremely difficult not to try each one!) and upstairs was their sit-down restaurant. We opted for the restaurant so we could rest a bit and get a little down time from the throngs of customers downstairs.

Feast your eyes!

Seafood was the star in every one of the dishes we tried. Even the mozzarella en carroza acciughe or fried cheese sandwich with anchovy delightfully punched you in the face with the incredible briny flavors swimming through the gooey crispiness of the cheese and bread.

Spaghettini Nero
The squid was as tender as braised abalone and the sauce had an intense seafood flavor that was also sweet, almost chocolatey. While eating this, I knew I’d never find its equal in the States.

Scampi
Simply boiled shrimp with lemon. Crisp meaty refreshing nibbles.

Spaghetti acciughe
Sweet soft onions, fruity olive oil, and anchovies offered well-rounded mouthful after mouthful of comfort with every bite.

Fritte di frutta di mare
Very lightly fried in extra virgin olive oil. This isn’t your Long John Silver’s fried fish platter. Those little fish and shrimp heads had so much incredible flavor!

Sure Venice is a tourist town with its tourist trappings.

But by nightfall, it was impossible not fall in love with its people, culture, history, and food. And hey, if you’ve got your honey to spend it with, it truly feels like you’re starring in your own romantic movie.

Awwww. 🙂

Viva Italia! …and a news alert for Kimchee lovers

It’s my first week back from exceptional, magical, romantic, beautiful, delicious Italy and I can’t wait to get my posts and pics up for all the meals we enjoyed there! Stay tuned…

But first, from an utterly different far off place, a breaking news alert! Homemade kimchee is under assault by a skyrocketing price jump of napa cabbage from $2.50 per head to a whopping $14 bucks! That’s just wrong, folks. Some speculate it’s due to a water reclamation project that has hijacked farmland that grows the cabbage.

Fingers crossed this just a “blip in the market” as noted in the article, but it’s an interested read. And for those who do dabble in the art of making kimchee, check it out: pickled prune and anchovy paste. Seriously.

Sunday Dinner: Halibut en papillote, Mill City Farmer’s Market carrots, Butter leeks

Halibut en papillote, Mill City Farmer’s Market carrots, Butter leeks

This meal is inspired by my dear friend Jeanne Wang’s nature farm wedding celebration in St. Paul. While there I visited the fantastic Mill City Farmer’s Market and brought home some beautiful local vegetables. How better to showcase the vibrant colors and fresh flavors than cooking en papillote!

Ingredients

8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1 leek, white and light green parts only, julienned

6 carrots, julienned

1 pint fresh shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons crushed fresh ginger

2 tablespoons grey salt or kosher salt

4 fillets skinless halibut, 8 ounces each

Fresh thyme

Dry white wine

Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Parchment paper

Baking sheets

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Before you get cooking…

  • Heat oven to 375° F.
  • Cut eight 15” x 15” sheets of parchment paper.
  • Rinse your fish with cold water and pat dry. Set aside.
  • Julienne the carrots and leeks. Soak the leeks in cold water then drain to remove grit.
  • Slice the mushrooms.

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Time to cook!

  • Heat a medium sautĂ© pan to medium-high.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter. When you see the butter foam, add the leeks and sautĂ© until translucent. About 2 minutes.
  • Remove the leeks and set aside.
  • Add 2 more tablespoons of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter just to re-coat the pan, and sautĂ© the carrots for 2 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  • Season the halibut fillets well with salt and pepper on both sides.

Now you’re ready to create your first packet of goodness!

  • On a sheet of parchment paper, place a small flat mound (~1/2 cup) of leeks in the middle of the paper.
  • Then place a layer of carrots on the leeks. Follow with a thin layer of the raw mushrooms.
  • To taste, sprinkle a little fresh ginger over the vegetable mound.
  • Carefully place the halibut on the vegetables. Top it off with 2 fresh sprigs of thyme.
  • Drizzle a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over the halibut.
  • Along the edges and over the mound, sprinkle 3-4 tablespoons of white wine.
  • Place another sheet of parchment paper over the mound and line up edges with other sheet.
  • Starting at the top right hand corner, fold the paper over itself and fold the edges until they are about 4 inches away from the food.
  • Then at the fold, starting at the end nearest you, fold over the parchment over again in the same way.
  • Continue folding the paper over itself, and firmly twisting them closed until the entire mound is sealed so no moisture can escape.
  • Repeat for all 4 fillets.
  • Place a package or two in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes.

Without opening the oven door, see if the packets puff up! That’s a sign it’s working!

  • Remove from the oven and serve immediately en papillote at the table or serve separately.
  • Use a paring knife to cut open the packets. Be very careful of the escaping steam!

Enjoy!


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09 2010