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

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Great Octopus Experiment!

Ever since we first ate grilled Octopus in Santorini, we fell in love with it.  We loved it so much we ate it numerous times while there. The photo above was taken at Mama Thira's in Firastefani on the island where they string out the legs to dry in the sun for hours before grilling them.  We also had excellent octopus recently in Porto, Portugal. Craving some octopus, we decided this week it was time for us to try our hand at grilling them at home.  Here in Venice, we see octous at the fish market regularly, but we don't ever see grilled octopus being served anywhere. It's always prepared as a marinated seafood salad.  But- we wanted grilled.  We researched several recipes and decided to try one of Mario Batali's. How bad could a Mario recipe be, right?  

The next step was to go to the fish monger to procure some octopus.  Mike went down to our neighborhood fish guys in Campo Santa Margherita and asked for a kilo ( roughly 2 lbs) and they cleaned it right there for him. To be honest we were not keen on the idea of having to clean it ourselves at home.

Unwrapping the package at home, Mike discovered he had 3 of them in the there! We put 2 in the freezer, and proceeded to the next step in the recipe. The octopus was washed (see above), then put in a pot of water along with a wine cork (this is Mario's method), and boiled for about 45 minutes.

 Here's our dinner boiling! Not a pretty sight!

 And here it is, just out of the pot, looking a little bit better!  Next step is to marinate it in olive oil, lemon and some spices for 15 minutes to an hour.

 Here's the octopus being readied to go out on the grill.  Grilling only takes about 5 minutes on each side. Mike cut the legs apart, we did not eat the head part.

 And here is dinner, plated along with grilled potatoes, red peppers, onions and some roasted cabbage.  The final verdict on the experiment- it was good, but not as good as we had in Santorini.  We have 2 more in the freezer, we're determined to try another recipe to see if we can improve on it. If not, I think we're headed back to Santorini.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Blessed by the Risotto Gods

The sun was shining brightly Wednesday morning as we boarded the vaporetto at Piazzale Roma on our way to meet my friend Rita and her husband Derek for lunch at Da Romano.  Da Romano has a reputation for it's risotto, and Wednesday they did not disappoint.

After having placed our orders we were busy catching up - and drinking some wine- when the waiter returned to our table, inviting us into the kitchen to watch the chef prepare a risotto. We grabbed our cameras and made a dash to the kitchen, quite in disbelief to be granted such an opportunity!

Having thoroughly enjoyed the lunchtime entertainment- the chef was certainly happy to be sharing his cooking skills, but wouldn't share any secret recipes- we made our way back to our table. Just as we sat down, the waiter arrived with a large bowl of steaming hot risotto "Da Romano".  We had no idea the chef was literally cooking our meal as we watched!  Lunch couldn't have been any better- good friends, good food, good wine.

For me, it would have been unthinkable to leave Burano without stopping in at my favorite pastry shop to buy some Buranelle cookie, those delicious S-shaped treats.  Carmelina Palmisano's shop is right in the main square.

Here are a few more photos of Burano from that afternoon for you-

This last one is the most colorful house on Burano, also the most creatively decorated!

Karen's tip- when you are planning your trip to Venice, give yourself a little treat and stay one more day, just so you can spend it on Burano. You won't regret it!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

When it rains, it pours.

 First- many, many thanks for the kind words of support and comfort after Sam's passing.

I am heartbroken to now write that our beloved corgi, Leopold passed away two days ago after having spent 3 days in the emergency veterinary hospital in Mestre. After Sam passed, Leo wouldn't eat or drink.  He went to the vet's for an IV on Tuesday afternoon,  but took a turn for the worse shortly after that. Mike rushed him to Mestre where they did everything they could to save him.  There are no explanations, we are now convinced he died of a broken heart.  This little guy brought us great joy. R.I.P sweet Leopold.

And, other news-- on a happier note- the vegetable boat at Campo San Barnaba has indeed reopened recently. We are delighted to know that some young, local Venetians have decided to take it over, and that this wonderful Venetian landmark will continue on into the future.