Wet 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. 🙂

An EDD-ter’s Tour of Italy – Florence

“You may have the universe if I may have Italy.” – Giuseppe Verdi

Beautiful quote. Beautiful city. Florence!

I had this sense of calm walking the streets of Florence. I’m not sure if it was the beauty of the Cattedrale de Santa Maria del Fiore, the Battistero, or Michaelangelo’s David, which in person seems to slow time down to one’s own heartbeat – a feeling only something truly beautiful can evoke.

My soul felt alive and palpable as it absorbed one magnificent sight after the other.

I was drunk on watercolor and oil and marble by the time lunchtime arrived, so our effervescent guide Sandra tipped us off to a wet market nearby and better yet, a place right next door for lunch that was a favorite of hers and other locals.

Sounded perfect.

Mushrooms were in season this time of year and these beauties seemed to sing to me as I walked by.

I could have spent hours at this patch trying to memorize the funky Italian names for the fungi until I heard an embarrassingly loud “waaooorr!”. I looked over at Jordan. He looked down at my tummy.

Time for lunch!


Papa di pomodoro

Unlike any kind of soup I’ve ever had. Imagine ripe sweet tomatoes thickened with bread, giving the thick soup a a light airy texture. Little soft gnocchi-like dumplings naturally formed in the soup from bread that didn’t dissolve completely. Heavenly.

Ribollita
Sandra absolutely insisted we order this here. And considering how traditional ribollita is to Florence, I thought coming from her it must have been extra special. And it was. Imagine a soup thickened with layers upon layers of fresh garden vegetables, cannellini beans, and love from your Italian grandmother (even if you’re not Italian!). Comfy cozy, robust yet gentle, it was one of the best things I ate in all of Italy!

Pizza del forno a legna
After getting up close and personal with those super fresh funghi, I had to have some on a piping hot pizza from the brick oven. It was even better with a healthy sprinkle of spicy peperoncino on top!

Lasagne
The best lasagne I’ve ever had. No foolin’.

Although I could barely move after our late lunch, I couldn’t have been happier with the day or the meal we just had. I still dream of the papa di pomodoro and ribollita.

I’ll be taking a stab at recreating these dishes at home soon (stay tuned for recipes!), and maybe with each bite, that same calm I experienced in Florence will descend on me and I’ll fall in love all over again.

Next up: Hiking in Cinque Terre and feasting on the fruits of the sea!