Culinary Flavors of the Fifth Season

In the second part of August the so-called “Fifth Season” starts in Venice. La quinta stagione which comes between summer and fall. Call it harvest time in Venice and the Veneto. This is also the time of the vendemmia, the grape harvest. You can see below what our grapes look like. They are blue for in Venice just like in the northern Lagoon, uva fragola is the grape of choice. From now, ripe and luxurious grapes might hang above your head when you sit outside under a pergola in Venetian restaurants.

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In  late summer, herbs, fruit and vegetables have soaked up all the energy they can get out from the summer sun. Venetian grandmothers love using herbs and other produce NOW to make relishes, syrups or jams. They say that the energy of the sun increases longevity of the product :-)

So in August and September all the ingredients are harvested we need to make what you can call “Venetian soul food”. You’ll find out later in October when I’ll be sharing recipes ! Right now we harvest chili, peppers, courgettes and melanzane. Beans and velvet plums and sweet tomatoes.

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When you taste your next pasta e fasioi (pasta and bean soup) in Venice just recall that this dish is a wonderful reminder of the flavors of the Fifth Season.

It’s also our favorite time in Venice to harvest herbs and dry them, especially lavender and thyme from the garden. We collect them in bundles hung up to dry in a protected space on the roofed terrace.

For this reason the herbs take on the salty breeze which gives them  a special flavor.  Ideal to make syrup from, especially the curative types. We have a few wonderful recipes that really help fight the flu, coughs and colds. In Venice you must expect an extra dose of humidity in fall which makes you catch seasonal colds much easier.  We’ve developed a few extra strong remedies, though :-)

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We also make canned tomatoes (pomodori pelati) in late August. There’s so much to choose from these days at the Rialto Market, irresistible to enact old recipes and experiment with new ones. Stay tuned, there’s more to come soon !

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