Category: Italy

Just a quiet Monday night in Amsterdam

Caffè Toscanini, Amsterdam   Arriving early for our reservation, we asked if we could have an aperitif at the bar. I could see we were in safe hands, they stocked all the right brands. I ordered an Americano from the drinks list; equal parts Bèrto Bitter and white vermouth, with a (mere) splash of Fevertree […]

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Ten favourite Bacari in Venice for chewing the lardo

Cichètti, or Chewing the Lardo   There’s something democratic about this city without cars. No-one can hide behind the anonymity of a windscreen, so the chances are you will know your fellow passengers on the vaporetto by sight, at the very least. Lawyers and professors share the same transport system as plumbers and market traders. […]

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Four favourite Venetian restaurants revisited

  A four night stay in November was prompted by the celebration of the 500th anniversary of Jacopo Tintoretto’s birth. This in turn triggered the question “where to have dinner?” Instead of seeking out new restaurants, we decided to revisit four that we have tried before. For the first evening we wanted somewhere lively and […]

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Tintoretto’s 500th anniversary, and Venice today

Feasting on Tintoretto Venice is currently celebrating the 500th anniversary of the painter’s birth, in 1518 or 1519. Almost all his major works remain in his home city, spread among 29 locations. I imagined that the exhibition The Young Tintoretto at the Accademia was going to be a rerun of the one at the Musée du […]

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“We don’t make coffee here, we are very serious…. We have grappa!”

Walking to dinner at Alle Testiere, a sign in an archway caught my eye – “I Rusteghi”. I recognised the name from Russell Norman’s directory of bars, in his book Venice, Four Seasons of Home Cooking.         Through the arch in a tiny courtyard was a well, covered with empty champagne bottles. […]

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“Every time someone does this, a Venetian dies”

  On the evening of our arrival in Venice in late November, we were asked for directions three times by other visitors. After all this time, we must be beginning to blend in. From the Vaporetto No 1, I was struck by the swathes of residential properties in darkness on the Grand Canal, apparently unoccupied. […]

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Nervous of a Soggy Pickle

Giardiniera, or Garden Pickle.   Giardiniera is a typical Italian pickle. On holiday, I sometimes buy a commercial version from the supermarket, to eat with a picnic. It consists of little chunks of crunchy vegetables in a sharp, vinegary brine; something like piccalilli without the mustard.   At Trattoria Anzolo Raffaele in Venice, Luigi makes […]

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Argala: in praise of bitterness

Childhood friends Enrico and Piero started making pastis in 2005, in Piero’s grandmother’s kitchen. Pastis is a drink associated with the south of France, so when they entered it in a competition, it was a bit of a joke; they live in Piemonte, on the wrong side of the Maritime Alps.  It wasn’t their intention to create […]

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A drinking game in Sardinia

“Find the oldest vintage rosé”   Noticing the poor stock rotation in the local supermarket led to my invention of this little game (and the winner was. . . . 2007! from the highly regarded Cantina Mesa).   I also noticed this example of sophisticated Italian label design:       I stocked up with […]

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Alghero, Sardinia: “The Food Stuff”

First night: La Bifora   I picked a B & B for our first night in Alghero based on its convenient location, as we planned to drive to our self-catering holiday accommodation the following day, after stocking up at the market. By the time we arrived, we were ready for dinner. The owner of the […]

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