We've moved from Baltimore, Maryland USA to Venice, Italy in pursuit of living our dream!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Christmas gift from our Butcher

It's a HUGE holiday weekend here- Christmas Eve, Christmas and then Monday, Santo Stefano day.Santo Stefano day (Festa di Santo Stefano) is the celebration of the announcement of the birth of Jesus and the arrival of the 3 wise men. Three important holidays back to back, and that translates to  LOTS of eating.  So, we've been getting ourselves prepared  for the last few days.

Thursday I spent the morning at the Rialto fish market picking up everything we needed for our Christmas Eve feast. Traditionally, Christmas Eve  (Vigile di Natale) is the day Italian families usually eat fish. The Christmas Eve dinner in most parts of Italy is called the Feast of the Seven Fishes. Seven courses, all fish. We're not going quite that far- but we will have some smoked salmon, shrimp, oysters and baked salmon.  We'll be stuffed at that point, but must leave room for a traditional Italian Christmas dessert- Panettone!

Another mission on Thursday was to find the duck breasts we're making for Christmas dinner. Mission accomplished.  By the time I finished marketing on Thursday, I had just about everything needed for the weekend food fest.  When we double checked our cooking plans after I got home from shopping all over Venice, I discovered there were a few items still needed, so I sent Mike out with a list yesterday afternoon.

Mike's first stop was the butcher's to pick up some sausage for Christmas morning breakfast. As he was paying, the butcher gave him a Christmas gift- a Cotechino!!!!

I've seen them in the grocery store, and knew what it was, but have never eaten one. Cotechino is a traditional Italian meal served on New Year's day. It's sausage like, made of pig parts and lots of spices including mace, cumin, coriander, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove and cayenne. I had to look up a recipe for it.  You pierce the skin with a fork, wrap it tightly in foil, and either simmer it in water for several hours, or cook it in the oven. When ready to serve, you peel off the casing, slice it in thick slices and eat it while it's still hot with either polenta, lentils or potatoes.  Guess what we're eating for New Year's??

The butcher on the corner by the Scuola dei Carmini ,who has been open a little under a year now, has been one of our favorite new additions to our little neighborhood. Besides the fact that he has the best meats, this is another opportunity for us to shop local, and develop a relationship with the owners.  For us, one of the draws of the Italian lifestyle has been the little mom and pop stores.  We love being able to pop into the wine store, the cheese store, our local fish guy, or the butcher on a regular basis. It's a good life.

Buon Natale a tutti.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing the sounds, sights and tastes of Venice. I love Venice and I enjoy your blog so much.
Wishing you a peaceful Christmas.
Best wishes,

Maïté said...

Buon Natale ! a presto !

Maïté said...

Buon Natale ! a presto !

Jon (Bilbao) said...

That looks like It'll taste good. Enjoy it!
"Buon Natale" to you too, Karen.