Posted by: jeanne | February 20, 2015

Cicchetti crawl for Marie’s last night

so there we were, marie had been with us for a week and was ready to go home (i use that term loosely), and we still hadn’t eaten anything venetian except for hot chocolate and fritelle.  so we decided to go on a cicchetti crawl.

we didn’t make that term up; apparently that’s what it’s called here.  like a pub crawl, but mostly about the food.

jim and connor stayed home.  neither of them were up to an evening of aimless wandering.  but it was great for marie and me, because we both live to eat, rather than eating to live.

we used several guides for our crawl, taking our hints from these blogs.

the trouble was that it was ash wednesday, the day after carnival ends, and in catholic countries it’s a very serious holy day, where everybody goes off to church and gets rubbed with ashes to show how penitent they are (after all that partying).  so lots of places were closed.

the first place we stopped was behind the strada nova, cannaregio’s shopping street.  but the place we were looking for didn’t open until 6:30, so then we got on a traghetto, our first, and stood all the way across the grand canal to the market (tourist price 2 euro, but with our pass it was 70 cents).

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we were a lot lower to the water than in a vaporetto, and standing is not a problem either.

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we even figured it might be fun for connor to do, tho we imagined jim would want to sit down.  connor wouldn’t, however, and would probably want to get up and row with the boatmen, which they might not enjoy…

we went to a bar that is reputed to be a favorite of casanova’s… as we walked in, the bartender was talking to some locals about tourists, and he was being very dismissive of them.  which i happen to agree, even tho i’m a tourist.  nonetheless we didn’t feel all that welcome there.  do mori, it’s called (i think).  here’s a review.

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but we got one of these and one of those, and two glasses of ombre, which means the house plonk.  the food was more expensive than the wine.  to eat were little bites of…let’s see if i can remember.  baby octopus, tuna polpetta (fried ‘meat’balls), artichoke bottoms, fresh anchovies on bread with a pickled onion, zucchini with something, maybe some eggplant something.  anyway, it was 20 euros for a plate of food and two glasses of wine.

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i enjoyed the surroundings, which was old fashioned pub, and took several pictures in case i want to do a painting (i used to specialize in pub interiors).  but then we moved on, looking for the one that was supposed to be around the corner.  it was closed, and tho people were working inside, they said ‘come back tomorrow,’ so we went.

it was still daylight, so we wandered a bit, and finally crossed over the rialto bridge and went looking for the other recommended places.  the one we tried in the beginning was still closed, even tho it was now past 6:30, so we went to the next one, very close.

this one (i think) was in a ‘modern’ setting – a not 14th century hovel – and the woman running it was very nice.

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when she saw the looks on our faces as we looked at the offerings, she suggested the large plate, and we agreed, and then did our best to split the food when she let us have it.  again, the wine was one euro, and the food was 2 euros a pop.

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we got fried eggplant, stuffed tomatos, some sardine in saor (like picked herring), potato pancake with proscuitto, another tuna polpette, some chicory greens, and i forget what else.  we sat and ate, and talked, and then decided we wanted another glass of that great wine, and went looking for the restaurant we visited before the opera, on marie’s first day.

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about that great wine.  we had been hunting for a bottle of it to take home to marie’s mother, but had no luck.  we walked into the droghera where i’d been buying jim’s peanut butter, because they advertised 600 local veneto wines, but they looked puzzled when we asked for it, and when marie showed the guy a picture of the bottle, he turned his nose up and said that it was a mixed wine, and they didn’t carry it.  instead, he sold us a valpolicella which was at 11 euros a bottle worse than the 3.50 a liter table wine i get at the local grocery store.  i got a bag of raw oats, for jim, and we sauntered out of there.

oh yeah.  right before we hit the droghera, we passed the same cafe/bar where the locals were so kind fo connor, and stopped for a fritelle, because they had them.  i had thought they’d disappear once carnival was over, because lent, but evidently they still have them, no matter how temporarily.  and marie and i can’t resist them, so even tho we were on a cicchetti hunt, we indulged in a fritella each.  mine was con crema, and hers was zabbaione.  alcoholic pastry, yum.

anyway, we also passed a wine shop close to casanova’s haunt, and stopped in there to ask for the same wine.  when the woman looked insulted, we insisted that la mia mamma wanted it, and left quickly.

after leaving the place in cannaregio, we stopped at a gift shop.  until now i hadn’t given that kind of store a second glance, but with a few glasses of wine in me i was much more tolerant.  and everything was a euro, so i got several nice chunks of glass for presents for family and friends.

then we walked back to la fenice, where vino vino is, and sat in the very crowded dining room, full of tourists, for a glass of that great wine – geodoro – a salad and a plate of grilled veggies.  i couldn’t actually finish my wine, and made marie eat most of the grilled veggies, but i finished the salad myself.

turns out the restaurant is right around the corner from calle larga 22 marzo, and from there it’s only a stone’s throw from san marco.  i found some shoes allison might like, and they were allison-priced, at only 2500 euro a pair, so i took some photos to tempt her,

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and then walked to the san zaccaria stop and got the vaporetto home.  we’d been out about 5 hours, and marie still had to pack, so i went to bed.

except that my stomach was upset, and rather than fidget and finally toss my dinner, i decided i might as well walk it off, and got up, got dressed, and hoofed it to san marco, which was only 30 minutes from my door.  i saw 5 people, mostly tourists trying to get into their hotels, and took the night vaporetto back home.  it was a great idea; i thought a lot about my upcoming unpublished novel while i was walking.

we got up around 5, had coffee and tea, and headed for the vaporetto.

i learned that if you take the number 1 you end up taking almost an hour to get to piazzale roma, but if you take the number 6 it takes half that time.  good to know when we’re all packed up and heading for the airport.

so we went to the airport.  our bus ride was marred by a group of extremely loud chinese tourists going to the airport.  i never noticed, but marie said they’d been doing some serious shopping, and were loaded down with bags from fendi and prada.

i dropped her off at the security gate, after having a chocolate and apricot croissant,

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and then headed for the panorama hypermart to get things i needed (a pepper grinder, a coffee press for our next guest, more diapers for connor, toilet paper, paper towels).  i’d brought the grocery trolly with me, and figured i’d have to take the bus back to piazzale roma and then get another one to the tram to panorama, but fortunately i took the wrong bus from the airport, and by the time i noticed i wasn’t going to venice, we were in the middle of mestre, and i got off right after passing some tram tracks.  and the panorama tram was just pulling into its stop, so with a little running, i made it.  nice mistake, that.  i’ll remember when it’s time to take kay back to the airport.

kay arrives march 3, so it’ll be a little while, and in the meantime jim and i are going to try to catch up on our painting.

i bought connor a three wheeled scooter while i was at panorama.  with three wheels it’s stable enough for him, so he’s been going around the house crashing into things with it.

and today it was foggy,

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but we went out for the photos jim wants anyway.  we made another try at the pigment store, which was still closed.

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we resolved to try to go in the evening, when maybe we’ll have better luck.

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then we went to the contarini del bovolo house (the one with the famous spiral staircase),

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that jim wants to paint, and from there we found yet another testolini art supply store (still an abominable range of available pastels), right next to a really good scarf shop, where we got two nice silk scarves on sale.

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san marco was back to almost manageable levels of tourists, thank god,

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and we took the time to explore the courtyards

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behind the procuratie, which hold a wealth of statues and well heads,

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just lying around.

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connor thought a sarcophagus was a bed,

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and i had to chase him out of there, just in case somebody didn’t like him climbing on the archeological specimens…

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then a hot chocolate and pastry for connor (and us), and then back onto the vaporetto,

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which was crowded with locals going home to lunch and a nap, but we went to lido to do the day’s shopping, and while i write this connor and jim are both napping.

the days are so full here.

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