We have a Situation
Taking (not making) stock
“Vediamo la situazione” is a phrase one hears often in Venice. It’s the verbal equivalent of sticking your thumbs in your tool belt and sucking your teeth. Considering your position from every angle before taking action is a daily ritual, and no task should be embarked upon unless the situation has been thoroughly vedered. Many errands involve double outings, one to see the situation and one to accomplish the task. Ditto meetings, purchases or getting anything fixed. When all our appliances drowned in the 2019 aqua alta each repair required two visits, the first where we and the workmen all stared at the oven or the washing machine, nodding sagely, and the second, several weeks later, where the buggers actually mended it.
Taking a look at the situation has been taken to extremes in some aspects of local politics- the Mose flood barriers have taken decades to instal, whilst the return of cruise ships to the lagoon this month (which surprised no-one except the entire international press) continues a stalemate which has obtained since 2012. The floating skyscrapers are banned, they come back, there’s a protest and they continue to threaten tens of thousands of lives weekly while the government considers the situation.
On a micro level though, there’s a lot to be said for a bit of vedering. Last night’s Supper Club, “Pleasures of the Parlatorio” continued after midnight. It was a joyful evening: we were thrilled to see many new faces and besides a slight struggle turning out the chilled pea custards we thought it went pretty well (apart from the bit when Anna’s dress caught fire on a mosquito candle). Starting the clean-up at 8am isn’t so much fun, especially when it’s thirty degrees and Alberoni beach is calling. So this week we’re considering the situation, no sudden moves. Gondola pace.
One of the best things about Supper Club is hearing our guests’ opinions on dishes we’ve tweaked and tried. Deep-fried salad leaves is a blinder… This week’s recipes got good reviews last night- we hope you enjoy them.
SAN NICOLO DE LA LATTUGA in tempura
This is all about the texture here. A good addition to an antipasti plate but it is slightly time sensitive so make sure you also have a carrot and/or stick to hand.
Serves 4 as part of a antipasto dish or with a dipping sauce.
8 Large Lettuce leaves
Approx 1/2 bottle of fizzy water
200gr of flour
2 tbsp of polenta
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
handful of ice
Mix all the ingredients together (apart from lettuce leaves and oil). You are looking for a pancake batter. You don’t want it to heavy, but at the same time it needs to sit on the leaves and not just glide off. Bring your oil to the a high heat, and prepare a plate with kitchen paper. Dip the leaves and place in the oil. You will need to turn these, fry until golden brown, remove and spinkle with salt.
ARTICHOKES and LIME
These were our homage to the Convent on Sant Erasmo, and we felt we couldn’t exclude it if we were really looking at the vegetable produce from the convent gardens.
Serves 4 starter
Large Fresh Artichoke Bottoms 4
Olive Oil 3 Tablespoons
Juice from Half a Lemon
Garlic Clove 1
Dry White Wine 1 Cup
Water 1 Cup
Bay leaves 3
Rosemary 2 sprigs
Salt & Pepper to Taste
large egg yolk 1, at room temperature
fresh lemon juice 1 tsp
dijon mustard ½ tsp
grainy dijon mustard ½ tsp (optional)
rapeseed oil 180ml
shallot 1 small
gherkins 50g, drained
capers 2 tbsp, drained
Fresh soft herbs (lots and lots) I have used a mixture of basil, mint and parsley successfully, but if you can get your hands on tarragon, chives, dill these are even better.
Lime zest 1
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and add the artichoke bottoms. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until lightly browned, then add the lemon juice, garlic, wine, and water. Reduce the heat to low, and cook until the choke bottoms are fork tender, about 15 minutes. In the meantime prepare the sauce.
In a large bowl, mix the lemon juice, mustard and egg yolk together. Then start adding the olive oil drop by drop, whisking all the time. It is slow at first but have faith, try to keep your bowl as cold as possible (ice underneath if neccessary). Beat together until you have a soft maionaise. Then fold in the chopped herbs, shallots, capers and gherkins. I also like to add some white balasmic if you have any.
Drizzle over the warm artichoke and finish with a geneous scattering of lime zest.