It’s been 35 years since we were last in Venice, and there have surely been a lot of changes.
The Rialto itself is under wraps and being renovated, thanks to corporate sponsorships. The number of tourists has increased ten-fold, and it’s only mid-May. Selfie sticks are the new weapon of choice, and texting is the current safety hazard. (In fact, there are so many people that the pigeons in Saint Mark’s are almost gone!)
Despite all that, Venice has withstood worse, and will continue to entice and charm, until the waves wash over the last palazzo. It is a wonderful place, and – after a few more drinks and a good night’s sleep – we will see more of it and ignore the competition. In the meanwhile…
Don’s Food Corner
The original plan was to have a light lunch and a full dinner later in the evening when the hordes of tourists might have thinned out. But because it was pouring rain at lunchtime, we opted for our large meal at midday. We tracked down a recommended place by weaving through many very narrow streets and over several canals — and didn’t get lost! That alone deserves special treats, don’t you think?
We opted for a three-course menu. Jo started with lasagna. It was a particularly good version and an unusually large portion. How many layers of pasta? Seven? Eight? Very creamy, very cheesy. I went for spaghetti with a simple tomato sauce. As we’ve found before, it takes a lot of effort to make something this simple, clean and bright tasting. Maybe made from canned tomatoes, but I’m not sure. My spaghetti portion was equally large, but in order to not insult the chef, I cleaned my plate. Plus, you never know if the pasta on the right side of the plate is different from the left. And the only way to be sure is to eat the whole thing.
For the next course, Jo went for scallopine in her continuing pursuit of tasting every calf in Italy. This time it was served in a “cheese sauce.” We’re not sure which cheeses were included in this sauce, but Gorgonzola and Parmesan were certainly in there. For some reason, when I looked up to see if I could taste the dish, it had disappeared. Jo rates it one of the best versions of the dish so far. To her credit, she did not lift the plate and lick it. But, of course, there were strangers sitting around the room.
I had a platter of fried fish — calamari, shrimp and tiny sardines. Very lightly breaded (in cornmeal, I think) and deep-fried briefly. Not overdone and not greasy.
For dessert, Jo went for a chocolate mousse. It was a not-too-intense dark chocolate concoction with a bit of heavy whipped cream on top. I had flan on a rich syrup that was almost like butterscotch.
A bottle of Merlot washed it all down.
The rain stopped by the time we finished, but for some reason I fell asleep on the vaporetto when we took a mini-cruise on the Grand Canal. It must have been the calamari.