Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Taste of Venice - Gelato and Pasta - Venice Part 2

When Kyle and I were in Japan, we fell in love with gelato. I know, it sounds so bizarre. Gelato in Japan?? But yes, it is wonderful. Coming to the motherland of gelato, I expected something great. However, it was beyond was heaven. We had no specific recommendations on where to go for the best gelato in Venice, so we picked a random shop that was open early enough to cater to us cruisers that needed to feed our gelato craving at 9:30AM before leaving the port for the next destination. You might think that these type of places wouldn't be good--but yes, oh yes, it was.

There were so many flavors to choose from, it was hard to pick one. 

Kyle chose the tiramisu which was creamy with a nice cocoa/espresso richness. 

I picked the frutti di bosco, which was a perfect combination of vanilla gelato and an uber-sweet and fresh tasting fruit topping.  

Once you have real Italian gelato, I don't think you could go back to anything else--not even Japanese gelato.

So what do you do when you only have a couple hours in a foreign city? Some might say: see the most well known sights, go shopping, or wonder the city and talk with the locals. Kyle and I try to seek out the best looking place to stop and eat some local food. This trattoria was tucked away in a narrow street/alley off the main path from San Marco Square to the Rialto bridge. We figured it would be OK since there was no sign of hamburgers on the menu.

After we ordered, the waiter plopped down a couple bottles of infused olive oil. Wdipped fresh Italian bread in the oils and instantly fell head over heels in love. At first there was a lemon and a red chili pepper infused olive oil. Each oil was so flavorful and dressed up the plain bread, turning an ordinary loaf of JC Penny-like white bread into a Prada equivalent that made you wonder why anyone would ever use plain butter or oil to dip their bread. Think Pretty Woman for bread.  

This is the point in the trip where I started to think of a future Mediterranean themed party that I would throw in Seattle. I asked the waiter how they made their infused olive oils. He was so happy we liked them that he brought out two more bottles: a garlic and an anchovy infused olive oil. 

As soon as I came home I looked up recipes for infused oils online. The key is to make sure to either refrigerate or use your oil immediately because there is the risk of botulism if you do not properly handle the oil. The key is to heat the oil and add whatever ingredients you would like in your oil, letting them steep in the warm oil long enough to infuse the flavor. You then let the oil cool and use a funnel to transfer the oil back to a bottle, adding a little canola oil to keep the concoction from solidifying in the refrigerator.

Kyle got the saffron gnocchi with dried baby scallops--he loved the scallops which were a little chewier and smokey tasting compared to fresh scallops. Plus, you can't go wrong with a luxury ingredient like saffron!

My dad loves clam spaghetti and has made it for me at home since I was a baby. This version was the real deal. The clams were fresh and the pasta was handmade. It is a simple recipe, but with simplicity, there is so much that can go wrong. Not this pasta, it was perfect.

I got the winner for the day--the lobster spaghetti that came with half a fresh Mediterranean lobster. The sauce was no ordinary tomato sauce, it was hearty and creamy tasting. The sauce was so flavorful I almost took home a doggie bag of just the remnants on my plate. 

We weren't exactly starving when we stumbled upon this restaurant--we just didn't want to waste a good meal time in a new city and wanted to take advantage of the opportunity before our boat left the port. However, whether it was the time crunch or the delicious food, we scarfed the food down as if it was our last meal before a Space mission or something equally worthy of the veracity we ate with.    

Happy Eating,

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