Travel to Italy While Staying Home

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Modica, Sicilia

When I’m not in Italy, I’m in Italy in my dreams, in my imagination, in my thoughts, in my kitchen, and in my paintings. The country is part of my whole being and inspires so much of what I do.

When I am in Italy I snap images, and take video, in an effort to bring home “a little bit of Italy.” Here are two videos I put together with those images. One is a short compilation of the beauty of Venice…

The other is a short tour of Palermo’s Capo Market…and then a peek into the cooking class my group took on a yacht in Palermo’s harbor…

Later this year I’ll be visiting Assisi, Siena, Florence & Rome. I’ll bring back some more Italy for you. (And me.) In the meantime, visit Italy right now from home…and then, if you can, visit Italy.

Osteria La Zucca in Venice Italy

La Zucca, Venice Italy

La Zucca, Venice Italy

Zucca means squash in Italian. Specifically those pumpkin-like green-skinned orange-fleshed squashes perfect for pasta filling, roasting, grilling, and all-around indulging in tasty earthiness that’s also SO good for you.

The restaurant La Zucca is in the sestiere Santa Croce in Venice, a bit of a ways from the neighborhood we stayed in of Dorsoduro. But with map in hand we strolled from calle to calle to campo to campo, getting lost but finding beauty at every lost turn…it’s inevitable…it’s Venice. Getting lost is actually on many top 10 lists of what to do in the city. I highly recommend it!

La Zucca in Venice

La Zucca in Venice

Up a pretty bridge and over a pretty canal we finally found La Zucca. We all agreed it was so worth the effort.

Different than a typical Italian restaurant, this one had a lovely creative focus on vegetarian cuisine, but didn’t shy away from meats, too. The interior immediately hugs you upon entering in a warm, yet modern way. The walls are covered in multiple slats of comforting wood. The tables are of the same wood. The menus are beautiful little sculptures of yellow shaped like small houses. And the place mats match the friendly yellow.

La Zucca menu

La Zucca menu

Just reading the menu is an impressive culinary journey. Deciding what to order is the hardest part. You want to try everything.

La Zucca place setting

La Zucca place setting

I ordered the tagliatelle with lamb ragu. The flavors were deep, multilayered and PERfect.

La Zucca lamb ragu

La Zucca lamb ragu

Duane ordered Porri Grattinati…leeks in a gratin of cheese & cream…seriously heavenly.

La Zucca porro gratinatti

La Zucca porro gratinatti

Lana ordered the red rice with tofu and almonds…the creative winner of our table …light and scrumptious.

La Zucca Red Rice w Almonds & Tofu

La Zucca Red Rice w Almonds & Tofu

Our co-travelers sat at another table and enjoyed more and wonderful menu choices.

La Zucca co-diners at another table

La Zucca co-diners at another table

Of course, we could not resist dessert. Duane had the luscious limoncello mousse…

La Zucca limoncello mousse

La Zucca limoncello mousse

Lana the panna cotta, a dessert of gorgeous taste and color!

La Zucca pana cotta

La Zucca panna cotta

And I had a fig topped cake drenched in bittersweet chocolate. Yes. To die for.

La Zucca fig cake w chocolate

La Zucca fig cake w chocolate

If you’re in Venice this is a must visit. Here’s their website:

La Zucca

Lana & Paulette

Lana & Paulette

Duane at La Zucca

Duane at La Zucca

Beer "bionda" at La Zucca

Beer “bionda” at La Zucca

Thanks to Lana who suggested it (and Whitney, too!)

Lana at La Zucca

Lana at La Zucca

Wine Bars “Bacari” of Venice, Italy

Wine Bar

Wine Bar

One of my favorite things to do on my recent visit to Venice was to take a meal at a wine bar. Not just a liquid meal! At wine bars they serve cicchietti, small bites, like Italian tapas. These bites, with a small glass of wine called un’ombra (literally meaning the shade), is dinner enough and a small, satisfying adventure.

Osteria Portego, Venice

Osteria Portego, Venice

At one such place, Osteria Portego, we nibbled on potato-onion cakes, octopus salad, and crostini w baccala mantecato (a tasty spread of creamy baccala) . Most of these places have standing room only that spills out to the calle, or campo, or canal-side ledge. I had a glass of pinot grigio, my husband a glass of Castello beer. So fun. So delicious.

Cicchetti at Portego

Cicchetti at Portego

At another wine bar, this one in Dorsoduro called Al Squero, I tried the popular drink “spritz”…a combo of Aperol, white wine, and sparkling water. Mine had an orange slice, too.

Wine bar menu

Wine bar menu

One favorite cicchetto that I learned years ago in Venice and still make is simply mortadella and green sotto aceto pepperoncini. Get a 1/2″ slice of mortadella. Cut it into bite-sized squares and triangles. Top with a small green pepperoncino and put a toothpick through it. A yummy bite to follow or precede a sip of wine, beer, or a spritz!

Let me know if you’d like more details about these wine bars and others. Buon Appetito and Cin Cin.

Zucchini Agrodolce Recipe from Venice

Herbs at the Rialto Market

Herbs at the Rialto Market

Here’s a short video of my cooking segment on Channel 4’s More at Midday WSMV-TV Nashville…includes a brief glimpse of video from the Venice trip…but I will be posting MORE soon!

 

Zucchini Agrodolce from Venice on WSMV TV Nashville