So much good food!
Yes I am still alive after so much traveling within these past 4 weeks. From Italy and France to Northern British Columbia I have returned with many stories to tell.
But I digress…my god the good food!
That’s how I remember Venice this time around. Shockingly that wasn’t the case during my first visit where I saw the most amazing art, gorgeous architecture but had very little good food. I knew upon returning I would have to take a food tour of Venice with Walks of Italy.
To do it right you must be shown around by a local passionate foodie (maybe all Italians are foodies) and thanks to Walks of Italy I was invited to do exactly that. The lay of the land was revealed by our charming guide (be sure to watch the video below) who made sure everyone’s bellies were full and happy by the end of the tour.
10:15 members of our group began to congregate in front of Venice’s oldest church, San Giacometto. Then came our guide, Kristina, with enthusiasm and passion. She was a light source and her attitude offered a second wind to those finding ourselves still a bit jet-lagged.
Off we went exploring the history of the area:
The Bancogiro where bank transactions occurred and now local food favourites reside within the same old walls.
The Mercato delle Erbe (herb market) where locals gather to buy their fresh produce for the evening. Apricots, green/purple/yellow beans, huge tomatoes of all varieties and colours, peeled artichokes, cherries, eggplant, bell peppers and anything else you can think of in almost any colour you could imagine are well represented.
The Rialto fish market where locals have been purchasing only the freshest fish for centuries. Arrive early in the morning (6am-8am) to see the huge selection of sea life and fishermen bringing in the sea side spoils. This place, for me, is the heart of Venice as a fishing village turned wealthy home to merchant ship owners – It is because of Venice’s relationship to the sea that it succeeded for so many years as an Empire. Even in the architecture of the San Marco Square you can see the theatrical frame set up both looking out towards the water but especially from the water looking in. The lagoon is as much of a character, a patron saint, a life source to Venice as much as San Marco himself.
Considering Venice’s cherished relationship with the lagoon you must eat seafood during your stay. Forget the pizza. Forget the cannoli. And ignore the fact that you are only a 90 minute train ride from Tuscany. Venice is not Italy. It is different so you shouldn’t be eating like you would in Rome or Florence or Milan.
Cue the cicchetti….
Cicchetti is the Venetian version of Spanish style tapas which you eat while standing.
I was a little intimidated by the ordering process at first but really there’s nothing to it.
You simply walk to the cashier or the display case and ask for the amount of each cicchetti you want, along with your desired wine, pay then eat! You can take your meal outside and stand in the narrow streets, overlook the canal or stand inside.
Cicchetti can be anything from stuffed and grilled squid, calamari, fried mozzarella with sardines or prosciutto, small sandwiches or paninis with mozzarella and Italian cured meats or the very popular baccala mantecato which is flaked salt cod spread mixed with a sort of cream cheese. They are all so good!
We roamed from cicchetti bar to cicchetti bar. One had only enough room to stand in the street, another was family owned, another held the title of Venice’s oldest and was frequented by Casanova himself! By the end of the cicchetti tour we couldn’t stand to put another ring of calamari in our mouths for fear of having to be rolled to our final stop. Luckily, we would be saved by perfectly made espresso and shots of grappa that aid digestion. When in Venice, we all shrugged.
After slowly sipping grappa – if I took the entire shot in one go I think I would stolen the title “Mother of Dragons” from Game of Thrones character Khaleesi – in between big swigs of espresso my vigor was restored.
I had more than enough good Venetian food all within 2 hours of the tour with a long list of local hangouts to return to and new one’s to try. Why hadn’t I done this sooner?!
Interested in taking a Walks of Italy tour of your own?
You can visit them at www.WalksofItaly.com
My Walks of Italy Food Tour in Venice was provided by Walks of Italy. However, all my opinions are my own and if I didn’t find the tour worth your time I wouldn’t have taken the time to write about it.
The entire trip featuring #GwOGourmands was made possible by GowithOh who provided accommodations in both Venice and Paris.