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A Glassblower's Feast
Sugar Street Supper Club: the story behind the menu
“Per me, il design e un modo di discutere la vita. E un modo di discutere la societa, la politica, l’erotismo, il cibo e-persino-il design”
The Venice Glass Week is a celebration not only of Venice’s unique and peerless artisan history, but of its continuing relevance and vitality as the world capital of glass design. Similarly, our feast draws on the history of the great Murano masters, whose creations bewitched the world for centuries, as well as the modern innovators whose dialogue with the city’s past continually engage with its future. This evening’s cichetti reference Proust’s comparison of the mosaics of San Marco to ‘golden glass sandwiches”, and (for the bold), an octopus carpaccio which alchemizes a shot into “porcellana”, one of the many revolutionary glass techniques discovered in Venice.
Our first course draws on the rich, glowing colours of the “millefiori”, the tiny, complex glass beads prized for trade and adornment in the Renaissance, whilst our first course is an adaptation of the classic celebration dish of Murano: “bisato su l’ara”. Traditionally, eel was roasted on the ‘ara”, the tempering stone in the glass oven, where pieces were left to cool after the masters had blown and decorated them. Elio Zorzi pays tribute to the recipe in his Osterieveneziane: “ l’isola di murano suol associare il culto dell’anguilla ai riti del fuoco…quella bianca delicatissima ghiotta vivanda, che nel nome “bisato su l’ara” sembre unisca lo stuzzicante odore del convito alla solenita del sacrificio pagano”. The original recipe calls for no more seasoning than a bay leaf and the eel’s own fat; we have updated it with smoked eel and a delicate potato and mustard seed salad.
The masters of Murano were both princes and prisoners of their art- the Serenissima permitted them to marry the daughters of the aristocracy, but they were not at liberty to leave the city, and any hint of espionage- the communication of the precious secrets of their craft-could be punished with exile or even death. Luckily for Ettore Sottsass, one of Italy’s most celebrated designers, the latter rule no longer applied in the twentieth century, when he scandalized the traditionalists by attaching his designs with glue, rather than ‘a caldo’. Nonetheless, his vistosi vases proved an intense reinvention of the potential of Venetian glass to hold colour, producing the clear, gleaming, elemental contrasts which we hope you’ll see in our chromatic chicken and brightly jewelled rice (though unlike S.Sottsass we nod to convention in the flavouring, a Venetian “saor”). Another great glass innovator was Ludovico Diaz de Santillana, whose striped eggs for Venini are reproduced here as a playful devilled quail’s egg.
The heat of the island ovens is best left to the masters, but our dessert, individual creme brulees, is a tribute to their passion and endurance, scented with orange flower, the blossoms which were carried by those long-ago glass-dowried brides. Now as then, Glass is a molten stream of magic, as much the lifeblood of the city as the waters of the lagoon, so tonight we hope you’ll raise a glass to its future.
Polpo in porcellana | mosaico di brioche allo zafferano | pera, gorgonzola
“millefiori” acqua di pomodoro, pesche noci, condimento balsamico bianco
“bisato su l’ara” anguilla affumicata, jersey royals
uovo di quaglia santillana
pollo cromatico, riso gioiello
creme brulee alla lavanda e fiori d’arancio