Tag Archive | Torcello

Valentine – Memories of Torcello

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                                                          Love is indescribable and unconditional.
I could tell you a thousand things that it is not,
but not one that it is.
– Duke Ellington

2V ….is for VALENTINE!
Right now the Internet is crowded with advertisements to buy this, that and the other for your loved one on the occasion of Valentine Day. Buy, buy, buy is the bombardment onto your brain, conscience and purse. So a small fortune will be spend on highly overprized flowers, mainly deep red roses, chocolates, champagne etc. etc.

Not in this house thou, take me for example – I loathe deep red roses (call it bad memories), don’t particular care for chocolates and champagne…….! hmm, now that is a totally different matter, but sadly this we cannot get here easily (so we will have to wait for another trip to Le Paris!).
JS today surprised me with two things: he wants to take me out for Dinner and a bit of dancing on Valentine’s Eve and he also wanted me to cook for him one of his favourite Pasta dishes for Lunch taking him (and me!) down a very beautiful memory lane.

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Venice lovers know of this beautiful little island just off the northern end of the Venetian Lagoon. For JS and I there has and never will be a time we visited Venice when we would not take the boat and motor away from the main frenzy of tourists from all over the world in order to enjoy nearly a whole day in the far more peaceful surroundings of this beautiful little island – Torcello!

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On the odd occasion we not only had our customary lazy lunch there but even spent a night in the famous LOCANDA CIPRIANI. Heaven – sheer Heaven!

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The Locanda and the Island deserve their own story, but another time, for now just enjoy the recipe given here and maybe you too have your own memory of this place; do let me know. So, at my very own Valentine’s request I give you today

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Memories of Torcello
(i.e. Spaghetti, Prawns in a creamy caper-white-wine sauce)
For 2 servings I used today:

½ lb spaghetti
½ lb of cleaned/deveined prawns
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 Tbsp capers in their brine
1 big handful of Spring onions (greens and all), chopped, app. 2 cups
1 Tbsp crushed dry red pepper flakes (adjust to your personal taste)
1 large lemon, zest and the juice of…
½ cup of dry white wine (adjust to your personal taste)
¼ cup of heavy cream
Salt to taste

Preparation:
Boil your Spaghetti in a large pot of salted water until just ‘al dente’.
Wash prawns, pat dry and add some salt, mix.
Heat ½ of your olive oil in a wide pot (I used my Wok), add prawns and cook only for 2-3 minutes maximum i.e. until they turn just a bit pink. Lift out of the oil and keep aside.
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Now add the rest of the oil and all the spring onions for another 2-3 minutes, keep stirring all the time. Add the capers and the chilli flakes and cook these for app. another minute. Add lemon zest and juice and white wine and simmer for another 2 minutes or so.
Take ¾ – 1 cup of the cooking water from the boiling spaghetti, add this to the pan together with the cream. Simmer very gently for another couple of minutes.
When Spaghettis are cooked remove from their water with a tong and move them straight into the sauce.
Gently mix all this together. Garnish with a few more red chilli flakes, green Spring onions and prawns and serve with a big smile to your loved one.
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Mangia Bene – Enjoy our memories.
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PS: For a more in-depth story re. Valentine’s Day, please read JS own story on his personal blog http://www.manningtreearchive.com : “The Roots and Wings of Valentine

PPS: Sadly I lost most of my pictures in a computer crash, hence I used other sources.

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Risotto Primavera alla Cipriani

-Cipriani’s Spring Risotto-

With many of you starting to send out posts about the first signs of spring, which I sadly cannot do since I live in a tropical climate, I like to take you with me instead on a short journey ‘down memory lane’ to the beautiful city of Venice.

Andrea-Venice

One of the domes of the Basilica di San Marco, Venice

Many many years ago a number of our international friends and I had a very noisy, and I confess, slightly boozy, but, oh so enjoyable Lunch at the world famous Harry’s Bar in Venice.

Andrea-Bellinis2

…..preparing our Bellinis

In fact it was one of those wonderful impromptu get-togethers one really cannot organise – they just happen!! And certainly nobody wants them to end quickly.

Andrea-Harry's

(Andrea outside Harry’s Bar)

The original plan that day was for all of us to meet at “Harry’s”, have refreshments and take Cipriani’s own boat out to the Island of Torcello to their beautiful and romantic Locanda – one of those wonderful little honeymoon locations , where we all were going to have lunch. But, one way or the other, we never made it to Torcello that day but remained in Venice until closing time! I of course now cannot, by the best will in the world, remember what each and everyone had ordered that day, except I do remember, that I had “Risotto primavera” (Spring Risotto) making use of many of the vegetables grown near the Locanda on Torcello. This dish was created and recommended to me by Arrigo Cipriani himself – so how could I refuse? It was a dish so divine, that I never, with all my travels around the world, have forgotten the smell and taste of this exceptional Risotto. He very kindly gave me permission to use this recipe in my own blog or book. And before I forget let me tell you – this dish is really very easy to prepare, so do not be put off by the length of the ingredients list. I hope that you enjoy this risotto as much as I did then and in fact once again only two days ago when I tried to recreate this for my post here.

For: 6
For the spring vegetables you need:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large clove of garlic, crushed
250 g of shiitake mushrooms; thinly sliced (I used button mushrooms)
3 small artichokes, thinly sliced (were not available)
1 tsp onion, finely chopped
4 small zucchini, diced (I used green ones)
12 asparagus spears cut into short lengths
1 large slice of red capsicum, cut into pieces
1 small leek, white part only, cut into short lengths
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the Risotto you need:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
150 g risotto rice (I used Arborio)
1.5 l chicken stock
40 g butter
3 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
Salt and pepper

Andrea-Food1

To prepare the vegetables: heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, then remove it from the pan and discard. Add the artichokes and cook for 8-10 minutes, then add the onion and cook for a further 2 minutes. Finally, add the Zucchinis (courgettes), asparagus, red pepper and leek, increase the heat to high and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Andrea-Food3

To prepare the Risotto: heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes. Stirring the rice, lower the heat, add about 120 ml of the stock and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Gradually add more stock as each addition is absorbed. After about 15 minutes, when the risotto is half-cooked, add the vegetables and continue to cook for a further 10-15 minutes until the rice is tender and creamy. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
For a softer risotto stir in a few more tablespoons of stock.
Serve with extra grated Parmesan.

And the next time Jo and I are in Venice, maybe we find the time to once again enjoy Cipriani’s splendid hospitality.

Ciao Carina