Venice is everything I have read… and better. A fairy tale land, a theatre and a tourist trap all rolled into one. A land where the richness of medieval affluence still leaves one breathless, where the echoes of music and theatre still lingers.
A rare photogenic gem which presents post card perfection in every frame one views, where even hoards of tacky camera lugging tourists fail to interfere with its beauty – yes, it is that beautiful.
The best way to experience Venice as I had been told is to get lost in it. That was exactly what happened to me as I ventured forth on foot wandering into narrow alleys, crossing bridges without a purpose, stopping at little artisan shops on a whim…. I was so lost, I could not trace back my steps and missed lunch. Despite being lost, I felt no anxiety only anticipation.
A city with no cars, the commute down the water ways made the city all the more romantic.
It is one of the rare cities I have visited recently where I did not constantly look for food. I was gladly feeding off the sights. However, I did have a couple of great meals over the weekend.
The first was lunch at Restaurant Terrazza at the magnificient Hotel Danieli. For Angelina Jolie fans, you may like to know that this is the hotel where they shot The Tourist in. Totally luxurious and breathtakingly exquisite, I was mesmerized the moment I stepped into the reception area.
The Restaurant Terrazza has one of the best views in the city, overlooking the Grand Canal and the Adriatic Sea – paired with delectable dishes, I could stretch my lunch hour forever. I chose to start with the Seared Tuna With Curry Sauce. It would be difficult to get it wrong with tuna that is so fresh and succulent. I was not disappointed but neither was I ecstatic about it. What was absolutely memorable was the Black Inch Cuttlefish Risotto deftly perfumed with Nardini Acquavite. Creamy and flavorful, rich yet not heavy, I could have eaten this for every meal.
The desert I ordered at the recommendation of the waiter was however, unimpressive. The Pear and chocolate cake with Grappa Nardini sherbet was pretty to look at but the chocolate set in a tart casing was dry and hard. Not my favourite texture. So overall, I did not score a home run with all the dishes but dining at the sunny verandah overlooking Santa Maria Della Salute was a thrilling experience.
My next most memorable meal in Venice was at Al Covo. A cosy little restaurant that is unobstrusive, where you will not see groups of tourists hovering at the front door checking out menus. (at least I did not see any on the 2 occasions I stopped by)
The owners Diane and Cesare Benelli were friendly and made my menu selection easy. Their enthusiasm was evident and the rest of the younger crew were equally energetic. This is a restaurant where you don’t need a great view to serve as garnish.
The first dish I ordered was a Homemade Lemon Vermicelli pasta with spider crab meat and roe. I remember looking across the room at Diane after my first mouthful and nodded at her in enthusiastic approval. The dish reminded me of the Philippino crab roe Tabang Talangka and also the Japanese Mentaiko. Potentially, the dish could become too heavy on the palate if not for the clever balance with the Lemon in the pasta.
The second dish was a Deepfried Softshell Crab with Baby Artichokes and Matchstick Potatoes. A perfectly executed tempura dish paired with finer than shoe-string potato sticks that were fried to a perfect crisp. Because it was so thin, the salt became so evenly distributed, it imparts just the right amount of flavor to the potatoes.
I was torn when it came to the desserts. Seeing my dilemma over the homemade hazelnut ice cream with butter tongue biscuit and the Venetian Deep Fried Cream, the waiter cleverly offered to serve me half a portion of each.
Both desserts were simply delicious but I thought the Fried Cream was really yummy.
Venice was nothing short of magical and I can’t wait to go back again soon…. Very soon.