Summer

A Creative Gathering in Venice and two easy-recipes from Veneto, Valeria Necchio’s cookbook

In the latter part of Venetian lagoon, where the water becomes stagnant and the flow enters the silent shoals, there is a precise point where the phone ceases to receive the signal.
Lately we have explored the lagoon with the FreakyBoat almost every evening and every time, in that precise spot, we took a look at the phone knowing it will be our last chance to post an instagram story.
In three different evenings, when we took the last look at the phone, I noticed some emails with a very promising object: the first was “August in Paris?”, the second was “Travel in The Netherlands” and the third was “Creative gathering in Venice”.
To tell you briefly about that, what is happening is that I am unexpectedly leaving for Paris, once again.
I suspect that I should be careful to desire things, because it’s incredible (and magical!) that everything I ask for is somehow given to me. I remember I thought: “Oh.. I miss Paris so much, I’d like to go there!” …and shortly after, I got the email.
The funny thing is that I am going to stay there quite a long time, in a flat downtown,  together with a cat named Baobab. Zaira, the Parisian cat lady, but this will be another story.
When I return, it seems that it will be The Netherlands’ turn. My good friend Ingrid included me in a food-trip around Holland which was organized by the Dutch Tourism Bureau. I still don’t know much about it, but I guess it will be another good story to be told.
Anyway, that brings us to the third email, the creative gathering in Venice, which is what I want to talk to you about now.

A few days after the debut of her Veneto cookbook, my dear friend Valeria organized two days in Venice, my city, by gathering under the same roof – a nice one,  in a Venetian restored palazzetto in campo Santa Margherita! – a small but great group of creative girls who share similar passions.
Other than me, Valeria and my partner in crime and great friend Valentina Hortus, the loveliest Emiko Davies and Irene Berni of Valdirose. (You can read Emiko’s post here & Irene’s post here!)
Last winter I had already taken part in a creative gathering in Tuscany (here the post!) and I was back home with plenty good photos but especially with a lot of inspiration that kept my creative flame alive for many of the succeeding weeks.
It’s incredible how powerful can be a sharing moment when you get together around a table with the “right” persons and at the right moment.. possibly having simple tasty homemade food!
Ideas, new perspective, insights can unexpectedly and easily arise in your mind, between a laugh and a glass of Prosecco and another.
For those people, just like me, who are used to manage work on their own, spending a lot of hours in solitude just doing their own tasks, sometimes it is so easy to lose sight of reality and the practical sense of things.
Sometime we have the solution right under our noses and we are not able to see it, or it can just happen that doing so many different things we lose our goal. It can also happen that we believe that all we did isn’t enough, when instead all we really need is just a friend’s voice who reminds us that it is not so.

Each one of the girls with whom I spent my time in Venice have their own particular background and the most varied reasons that brought them to lead quite different lives, but despite that, we all have so many similarities and common passions. First among them, our need to tell stories about food, travels and life… some of us more easily through pictures, others through words.
We found each other into our diversity, which is also what makes us “unique voices”.
The integrity with which these girls face their creative work, with all the insecurities of someone who is always ready to self-doubt in order to do better, is what impressed me most.
We all have some weaknesses, even though sometimes they are well hidden behind a strong temper, and I personally appreciate so much when someone allows me to see also some “awkward” nuances of his/her nature.
The frank and open way we talked to each other about future plans and about our doubts regarding the next goals to be achieved, has made the right path a bit clearer and closer to achieve.  At least, this is what I’ve drawn from our jagged conversations while walking in an incredibly crowded Venice, between a cicchetto an another in the most popular Venetian Bacari (below a short list of some of my favorite places!) while taking pictures and cooking recipes from Valeria’s cookbook, for our homemade dinner with the fresh ingredients we bought at Rialto Market.

In this regard, please let me write two lines about this long-awaited, well-groomed, very inspired book that, especially for me, tells about home.
Veneto in fact contains among its pages the essence of that gastronomic culture, but not only, to which I belong… just like when you look at the old family portraits and realize that your Grandmother’s profile is pretty much identical to yours.
So many of the recipes presented in Veneto are the same I grew up with; I am familiar even with the places.. and the way in which Valeria, through the memories linked to those plates, talks about her roots in this land makes me feel kind of proud to be part of this special region of Italy.
Also, a FreakyRaku bowl appears in one of the first images of the book, so how could I not love it?!!
Because of the heat we chose to prepare two easy recipes, presented as side dishes in the book.  They’re perfect for summer, fast to prepare, good to be shared…  like our doubts and uncertainties, just like we do with those special friends who, with a few right words, are able to magnificently illuminate the fragile profiles of tired thoughts. Just like light does, on Venetian rooftops.


My favorite Venetian Bacari (the small bars where locals pop in for a glass of wine and a cichetti!)

– Bacareto da Lele (Campo dei Tolentini, 183 – Santa Croce)
– All’Arco (Calle dell’Occhialer – San Polo 436 – Rialto)
– Cantinone già Schiavi (Dorsoduro 992 – San Trovaso)
– Paradiso Perduto (Fondamenta della Misericordia – Cannaregio 2540)
– Vino Vero (Fondamenta della Misericordia – Cannaregio 2497)
– Osteria Banco Giro (Campo San Giacometto, 122 – Rialto)
– Cantina Do Mori (Sestiere San Polo, 429 )


Borlotti Beans & Tomato Salad + Stir-Fried Fine Beans with Basil & Garlic
 
From ‘Veneto. Recipes from an Italian Country Kitchen’ by Valeria Necchio (Guardian Faber)
Ingredients
Borlotti Beans & Tomato Salad
(SERVES 4–6)
  • 1kg | 2lb 3oz borlotti beans in the pods, shelled
  • 45ml | 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 medium bull’s heart tomatoes, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • Fine-grain sea salt, to taste
Stir-Fried Fine Beans with Basil & Garlic
(SERVES 4)
  • 400g | 14oz fine beans, ends trimmed
  • 30ml | 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, whole but lightly crushed
  • 8–10 basil leaves
  • Flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
BORLOTTI BEANS & TOMATO SALAD
  1. Put the shelled beans in a large pan with cold water to cover. Set the pan over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, partially covered, for about 40 minutes, or until the beans are tender but still holding their shape. Every now and then, check the water level and add more if needed; skim off any foam that comes to the
  2. surface.
  3. Drain, season with 15ml | 1 tablespoon of oil and a generous pinch of salt. Leave to cool.
  4. Soak the onion in cold water for 10 minutes, then drain and set aside.
  5. Cut the tomatoes into segments and scatter them on a large salad plate.
  6. Whisk the remaining 30ml | 2 tablespoons of oil with the vinegar and a dash of salt until well combined.
  7. Pour the dressing over the tomatoes and toss to coat. Top with the cooled beans, onion slices and chopped parsley. Toss again, taste, and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Serve at room temperature.
STIR-FRIED FINE BEANS WITH BASIL & GARLIC
  1. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add the beans and cook, uncovered, for 4–5 minutes, or until just tender and bright green in colour. Drain and plunge into really cold water to halt the cooking.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil and garlic in a large frying pan. Allow the garlic to gain a golden complexion, then add the well-drained beans. Stir-fry over a high heat, moving them every couple of minutes and allowing their skin to char and blister on all sides.
  3. At the very end, stir in the basil leaves and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Sautée the beans for another minute and then serve.

 

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1 Comment

  • Reply Valeria | Life Love Food 05/08/2017 at 10:11

    Beautiful, beautiful my friend. As you say, these chats are so, so needed in order to gain perspective on our own work. Solitude is good, but so is community. It’s been a joy to have you with us.

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