Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Venice's Rialto Food Market & Cicchetti Walking Tour

I can't think of a better way to see a city that through a local market, eating and drinking your way through, learning and experiencing as you go. We booked a tour and met just over the Rialto bridge in the church square for the market food and walking tour of the 700 year old continuously operating market.  Barbara,  our guide, is a local Venetian from  the Isle of Lido, she's darling and fun, and chock full of interesting info.

Venice itself a combination of small islands attached by bridges and canals and to say it's beautiful is a gross understatement.  Like Rome, I had very big expectancy for this city and this place exceeded every one of them.  I've got some more posts to write on the islands of Murano and Burano, this is one is about Venice and the food alone.  

Just to set you in the right frame of mind, here's a little shot from the hotel balcony.

Our food walking tour was through the market, seeing the sights, tasting wines and cicchetti, the Venetian version of tapas. Small bites of food with wine is always yummy in my book!
We started with a quick tour through a couple fresh market squares and streets and then a walk along the grand canal as Barbara told us what a great place the side canal cafes were to come back to enjoy.  

Our first stop was at mini stand in an open square,  maybe someplace you wouldn't look twice at,  but this place was packed with locals. 

It was barely 11am, but we stopped for a couple of small sandwiches and a glass of Prosecco. The sparkling wine in inexpensive in Italy and I wholeheartedly recommend it.
Below is a shot of the sandwich case.  I had one of the spicy tuna and the spicy salsiccia, but everyone on the tour was able to pick their personal choices from the 12-16 varieties. 

Not the best photo of the sandwich case, but it gives you an idea of the variety.

The prosecco was served in real glassware,  and nice stuff at that! They let you wander the square with the glasses and people stand in groups visiting.  

Here's a couple of my favorite shots of some of the locals around us.  

The couple looks to be older, very chic local Venetians out for some shopping and sipping some prosecco before getting to their chores, I guess.  She was wearing wonderful orange pants,  loafers and socks.
I quickly called "my team", quoting a fun kids game where you dibs "your team" members of people who are within your field of vision.


My hubby got second pick and these guys (below) have to be his team.  They were actually quite cute, sipping on their red vino and making small talk.

Haha,  clearly everyone was having a great time (and we just started!).

We walked through the fruit market,  vegetable market,  meat and fish market. 
In one stall we noticed a box of funny disks in a water bath, they were tubs of trimmed artichokes in acidification bath to keep them from discoloring.  Little did I know we'd be cooking those up later in our hotel "apartment" kitchen, but more on that in my blog post coming soon. Update- here's a link to that recipe

The Rialto fish market was one of the first to have standards for the sizes that were allowed to be sold, starting over 200 years ago.

Our guide mentioned that the numbers listed after each fish were in centimeters,  however the metric system has only been used since 1799 in France, so this must have been pretty progressive if these numbers were actually in centimeters.

One other note, the Venetian language has some differences to the Italian language, and many of these words are different from regular Italian. "Venetian" language is not considered a dialect of Italian, as our guide said that "languages have their own army and navy" something that Venice had in their past!  I liked learning that! 

We meandered through the maze of side streets talking about the spice market and other sites.  We stopped next under an arch for another glass of wine and more cicchetti.
All' Arco means "under the arch", which unfortunately I didn't get in this photo.
Here I had a crisp white wine with a runny gorgonzola cheese topped with an anchovy.  Rich,  decadent,  delicious. We  loved the Baccalà Mantecato, a Venetian specialty that is whipped salt cod.  Sounds a bit strange, but this cicchetti was one of our favorites.


Inside the shop, full of delights!

Plates and plates of yummy cicchetti.

These are stuffed baby octopus for 2 euros a piece. I didn't get to try one, but maybe next time.

Later,  we crossed the grand canal by gondola to the other side to a sit down osterria for squid ink pasta and also a Venetian classic penne with shrimp and zucchini (recipe to come), plus a touch more wine. 

This actually was pretty good, but didn't look so great.  Our teeth were hilarious after eating this.  Had to swish with white wine, hahaha.

Hours later we decided to venture back to the Rialto for another sandwich and prosecco for a light dinner.  Alas,  the wine bar was out of sandwiches but the prosecco was running freely.  Six of us stood with Venetians our kids ages and gabbed far longer than appropriate. Ahhh, the perfect day in Venice obviously needed to end with one more glass of wine in the Rialto square. 

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I love food markets!  Here's a posting I did the Tokyo Fish Market last year

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