Discover my culinary moodboard of the lushest month of the year! The cover image shows you what a late morning during the first week of April looks like when Venetian red facades are wearing fresh flowers!
I know … but I just can’t make up my mind what’s the most beautiful month in Venice, I’m undecided between April and November. But then, April has its benefits. Just like November, it comes sprinkled with feasts. Like November, a heart-felt day is celebrated in April. La Festa di San Marco, the Feast of Saint Mark takes place on 25 April. It was the national holiday of the Republic of Venice, and here in Venice we still celebrate it – in a very special way. we’ll soon tell you more on the blog :-)
I love those balmy mornings in April, promising sunny, while Venice is veiled by high-floating fog. Hazy mornings, so to say. You might even experience a few drops of (warm) rain on your face while you’re swiftly walking to your favorite breakfast bar, which in my case is Pasticceria alla Bragora.
It doesn’t take me longer than ten minutes to arrive there, though sometimes, I stop along the way because the smell of the freshly baked apple-marzipan croissants at Pasticceria Chiusso’s is just too tempting.
After savoring breakfast, watching people wake up drinking their cappuccino at the counter, while I’m seated in the adjacent room or outside enjoying the balmy air, I walk towards Via Garibaldi to take a look at the primizie, the vegetables coming to Venice from the islands.
Read the complete story of my favorite morning walk in this article, in which I take you around my neighborhood – My Venice !
Work in the garden really starts over now, there are lemons and kumquat to be harvested on the secret terracescape. We love to make jam with kumquat or use them to garnish vanilla-flavored panna cotta. So calming to spend hours on end in the mild salty air, working on the garden terrace, while the vines are so lush green and you can make out morning dew on their leaves.
The aromatic herbs on the terrace are growing again, edible geranium leaves, cinnamon-flavored basil, ginger, lemon grass and our favorite sweet mint tasting of chocolates. In April, we use young mint leaves to make mint butter (simply butter, mint leaves, cane sugar, rum and raisins) which serves as topping for our home-made brioche cakes. And yes, these brioches also come as larger version of themselves, covered with a mint-sugar frosting.
We also harvest the first edible blossoms now in April. In particular, lilac blossoms to make jam and syrup. That’s not easy at all, but grandmother knows what to do to preserve their scent. And of course, my favorite – il glicine, wisteria – blooms in Venice in the second half of April.
By April, Venetians look forward to cooking with their “own” Lagoon-grown vegetables called le primizie. Maybe you would expect these vegetables to be extra large – but they aren’t, they are smaller but so extraordinarily tasty. Some even look like miniatures and you will never forget their lingering rich and salty flavor. This is due to the soil they grow on, a mixture of mud and algae bathed with salt water. Yes, it IS a challenge growing plants in the Lagoon.
Venice in April tastes of the last cima di rapa – tender broccoli eaten in winter, the last purple-green radicchio, succulent wild herbs like agretti or barba di frate, spring onions and the first artichokes harvested, called le castraúre.
April usually starts with Easter, and in Venice, we celebrate it twice. As a rule, one week after the Catholic Feast, the Greek Orthodox Feast takes place. Thus, April tastes of vacation time and on Easter Monday, Italians – ALL of them – go on a collective day trip somewhere in the countryside. One might say it’s a nation-wide spring greeting.
For Venetians, the closest places to go to are of course the Lagoon islands. So I dare say that on a sunny Easter Monday morning, the boats leaving for the islands of the Northern Lagoon, towards Burano, Mazzorbo and Torcello, are full, as are the boats going to the beaches of the Lido.
Is there a special dish we love to eat in April ? Yes, there is, it’s called risi e bisi, which is rice flavored with garden peas. Just like fritole (frittelles), risi e bisi was a national dish of the Venetian Republic. Both are still available in Venice, you can taste your risi e bisi dish on 25 April if you are in Venice.
Click here to read more blog posts about Spring in Venice and the Lagoon !