~snarfing & slurping~

October 15th, 2007

In 1787 Goethe wrote of his experience in Italy, “I seem to be completely different person who I hardly recognize. Yesterday I thought to myself: Either you were mad before, or you are mad now.

On our first day “back” we traveled by boat, bus, ferry and foot along the long stretch of Lido and beyond to the island of Pellestrina, that forms a barrier between the southern Venetian Lagoon and the Adriatic Sea.

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We got off the bus two stops too soon (in Alberoni) and were delirious and hungry. We had had three hours of sleep, and had expected to be in Manhattan that night. Instead we found ourselves wandering a surreal and cinematic long dry road dotted with rosmarino and honeysuckle and apartment buildings from the 1950s. Lost in Lido was suggested as the days film title.

I felt absolutely ethereal.

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We came upon a trattoria that was closed for the afternoon, but somehow we persuaded the owner to make a “simple” lunch of spaghetti with crab and parsley–the very best dish any of us had in our stay. This and the Tokai–my new favorite white wine (minerally and fruity without being sweet)–saved us.

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The light filtered through the vines over the patio, the neighbors met their grandkids on bicycles on a Sunday afternoon, the pear and vodka sorbet came with a wedge of parmigano cheese. If you find yourself lost in Lido, I highly recommend Al Vecio Cantier.

We carried on to Chioggia where a festival was happening that day–everyone was out and about, throwing confetti, snacking, running around in insane high-heeled boots. The widows filled the street cafes, clustering in little fierce tribunals.
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The next day in our new neighborhood of San Polo we found a little lunch place called L’Arco that serves some serious nosh, or cechetti. Only locals, plus us. We were given some shade the first day, welcomed like family the second, with Barolo (still holds first in my wine book for red. Brunello is an interesting new second, more earthy and a little less smooth and round…Campari with lemon is the twilight sip to have.)

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Over some days we had abergine, roast tomatoes, mortadella, cod spread, and sardines, which I haven’t quite got the hang of yet.

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But I have discovered a secret fish lust. There are so many lovely window displays of pesce made just for this purpose, like bakery windows, but full of eels and flying fish.

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The best place to attack fish lust in Venice is Trattoria Madonna, an old-school place we visited on the first night, and now in our new apartment were positioned directly across from, on the tiny alley of Calle dei Cinque. Naturally, we became regulars.

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The whole sole or sea bass, pasta with clams, crab served in shell, even the roast chicken and lasagna were so delish.
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The line is long, the waiters bustling, the fish on ice, the walls covered in paintings.

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A very fine tiramisu too.

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