Join me for a visit to Serra dei Giardni on a Saturday morning. It’s past 11 am though, they open late. In the little courtyard in front of the hothouse you can see the shelves packed with trays of new herbs and vegetables. Take a look at what we’ve got here in Venice and what will be growing in our gardens and terraces soon.
First of all, there are salvia – sage plants. We love frying freshly picked sage leaves and fry them covered with a little flour in olive oil. A crispy decoration for slices of new potatoes or used to garnish risotto.
My grandmother swears that salvia alleviates migraine, colds and a sore throat. For that purpose, she makes sciroppo di salvia, our homemade sage syrup sometimes mixed with thymes. We keep the syurp up to a year in a cool and dry place in our dispensa = pantry. Whenever someone in the family catches cold we dilute a spoonful of sage syrup in a glass of warm water and add a teaspoon of lemon and honey. It’s our natural way of making lozenges in liquid form. If you prefer them solid, just add maize starch when making the syrup, leave the syrup to cool to room temperatue, stir well and form little lozenges.
On the shelf below, you can see thymes, chives and wild oregano. We use wild oregano leaves to make a favorite dish in Venetian families, uova alla portoghese.
Portuguese eggs consist of an uovo fritto – fried egg surrounded by tomato puree (sometimes passata di pomodoro). On the table we decorate this egg dish with fresh oregano leaves, black pepper and coarse sea salt.
While I was taking a look at the shelves it started to rain all of a sudden so I went into the coffeeshop adjacent to the plant nursery. I wasn’t the only one seeking refuge from the downpour. This cat was such nice company for the next 30 minutes of my day :-)