Friday, June 17, 2011


Corte della Pazienza, June 17, 2011—
VENETIAN CUISINE IS UNTHINKABLE without onions: if fish is its substance, onions are the essence. Sarde in saor, pickled sardines, are nearly as much onion as they are sardine — in fact, now I think of it, they define that substance-essence dialogue. And Fegato alla Venexiana — onion confit is the center of the dish.
Tonight's dinner began, for me, with the best Sarde in saor I've had on this trip, firm, fresh-tasting, but well-pickled, onions, vinegar, salt, pepper all in balance. And then on to bigoli, the characteristic Venetian twist on spaghetti, a little firmer, a little thicker, almost a pasta alla chitarra: perhaps there are eggs in them. These had been tossed with the most buttery onion confit imaginable, nothing more than butter, onions, and salt; and the result was impeccable.Carciofi.jpg

On the side, half a dozen delicious whole artichokes, slow-sautéed in plenty of good olive oil. And for dessert, a glass of little raisins soaked in good grappa. I haven't really looked at the list thoughtfully enough to say this, but I think this may have been the best restaurant meal, whatever “best” means, of the trip, so far.
White wine in carafe
• Anice Stellato, Fondamenta della Sensa, 3272, Venezia; 041 720744

LUNCH HAD BEEN another plate of pasta, spaghetti this time, with clams. This was in the rain, outside, under umbrellas, a now-and-then rain in the wake of a thunderstorm, just outside the Arsenale where we'd been visiting the Biennale. I hadn't expected much of the place, much more than ordinary I mean, but the dish was really quite good, and I didn't leave much on the plate, as you can see.
White wine in carafe
• Trattoria Pizzeria Da Paolo, Sestiere Castello, 2389, 30122 Venezia; 041 521 0660IMG_0802.jpg

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