Some people shy away from Venice. They say it’s too crowded…too many tourists.
There’s some truth to that.
But there’s more truth here: Venice is like NO OTHER PLACE. It’s a beautiful history captured in space and stopped in time. To go to Venice is to time travel. Back centuries. And centuries-old wonders have all been preserved.
If you want to avoid crowds, it’s easy to steer yourself off the beaten path and feel like the city is all yours. Intriguing and relaxing neighborhoods are everywhere.
One of my favorite experiences is cooking with Chef Marika of Acquolina on the Venetian island of Lido. Her cooking classes are hands-on with all local fresh ingredients, and her personality is buoyant and encouraging. If you take the full day class, you start by meeting her in the center of Venice at the famous Rialto market, where dozens of tables and booths are spilling over with produce, seafood, pastas, and spices.
Here you go shopping with Marika to choose what you will cook. She’ll listen to your requests and also make some knowing suggestions. She knows where to shop, which are the best vendors…her favorite produce, the best fish.
My group from Nashville shopped with her…picking out baby scallops in the shell, small soft-shelled crabs, prawns, and baby squid. We bought fresh whole artichoke hearts (just the bottoms, which we braised and ate like steaks), cherry tomatoes, and fresh peas.
When her rolling shopping cart was completely full, we made a couple of other short stops before boarding a taxi boat to the outer island of Lido. Marika took us to the classic age-old wine bars hidden behind the market. We sipped small glasses of wine and nibbled cichetti — bite-sized appetizers.
Then we took the short boat ride to her home on Lido…
Marika’s home is just a short walk from the boat stop on Lido.
As soon as we arrived we started cooking!
We learned to clean baby squid and scallops, how to make a batter for deep-frying small soft-shelled crabs called moleche. We sautéed prawns, and made a fresh tomato sauce for pasta….we prepared all of the wonderful seafood and vegetables.
And then sat down to a fabulous feast.
On our boat ride back to the center of Venice, we were happy, sated, and full of wonderful recipes!
for info about Chef Marika’s classes, contact:
Chef Marika Contaldo Seguso