Garden hops, bruscandoli and tamarisk. This is how the Rialto Market is decorated right now, to show off all the bounty in late May and early June, spilling over onto the city from the Lagoon islands. So yes, the Rialto Market is back to work, it never ceased working during the pandemic, and there’s very good news: Tommy Pasco Scocco and his family opened a new stall at the Rialto market in the midst of the pandemic, a clear sign of hope, filled with everything you’d wish for in your kitchen. Their stall even includes fresh flowers and flowering herbs!
So what can you expect during this transition season, when spring turns into summer, just weeks away from summer solstice? In short, the produce of spring and summer overlaps, making early June one of the most colorful weeks in the market year. Also, I love the special decoration of the Rialto market stalls right now: Tamarisk twigs from the Lagoon add even more summer flair, as these shrubs grow between the marshy fields on the islands, especially on Sant’Erasmo and Le Vignole.
When spring and summer overlap: The last of the spring flavors
Cherries, bruscandoli, and garden peas: In the Veneziano, the province of Venice as we call it, cherries are part of the spring harvest. There will also be cherries for solstice, as every year, but in “normal” years, ciliegie precoci (early-ripening cherries) arrive at the market around 28 April. Did you know that Veneto is the third-largest producer of cherries in Italy? We have more than twenty varieties of cherries, and the most well-known is probably la ciliegia di Marostica, called la siresa de Marostega in Venetian.
We love cherries to make pan dolce alle ciliegie, sweet cherry bread, flavored with cherry liquor and the first lavender blossoms from the garden – a recipe you can discover here on La Terrazza.
Bruscandoli are the hop sprigs growing in the shrubs next to the olive gardens on Torcello. You also find them on the banks of the quiet canals criss-crossing the islands Mazzorbo and Sant’Erasmo. Slightly tasting of sea salt and garlic, we fry the bruscandoli for a few minutes in a mix of butter and olive oil in a pan, then add a hint of spices (!) to enhance their flavor, a little panna, fresh parsley from the garden and yellow mustard seeds, and then add long pasta such as tagliatelle or pappardelle.
Garden peas are another favorite in our late spring kitchen, and while being typical April vegetables, as you can see in my blog post about the original risi e bisi here, they are also available in May. Especially, when spring feels cold and unusual like this one, garden pea pasta makes wonderful comfort food. The pea condimento for the pasta dish is a light creamy sugo, flavored with tarragon, lovage, speck, mustard seeds, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and sweet cream.
When spring and summer overlap: The first of the solstice flavors
Nespole, pomodori e pere verdi: Nespole (loquats) usher in June. There are quite a number of loquat trees in the hidden gardens in Venice, and together with albicocche (apricots), they go into the loquat-apricot-lavender cake we’ll share on La Terrazza in June.
The rich and juicy pomodori ricci (tomatoes), that you can also see in the gallery below, have also arrived at the markets by now. For those people in Venice who love eating tomatoes they are an essential part of the sugo, often enriched with zucchine (courgettes), or simply used as salad, cut into slices and combined with leaf vegetables and lettuce. Their taste is unique as they come from the northern Lagoon called Orto del Doge at Lio Piccolo.
Pere verdi: The first pears arrive at the market in early June! In the Lagoon, these early pears are called pere moscatello, an ancient variety you can find especially in the lush north-eastern orchards in the Lagoon, surrounded by vineyards. The pears are small and very sweet, and go into the crostata di pere con glassa allo sciroppo di lavanda – pear crostata with lavender frosting, made from our lavender plants on the terrace – La Terrazza.
Now, what does a typical spring turns into summer dish look like?
As this season is quite changeable, with thunderstorms and other weather events bearing down upon the Lagoon, we’ve created a series of spring comfort food whose aim is to balance unstable weather conditions. One recipe is bruschetta del Mercato, a bruschetta with toppings made from seasonal treats now available at the market! If you’d like to learn more about this recipe, and the others in this post, click here and come into our kitchen! Below, we’re treating you to pasta ai granchi – spring crab pasta, a special spring comfort dish!
Pasta ai granchi semplice
- qb. Granchi (spring crab) from the market fresh not canned
- 1 cup Panna (sweet cream)
- 1/2 teaspoon Sweet paprika powder
- Long pasta (100 gr per person) Spaghetti, tagliatelle, etc.
- Olive oil
- qb. Sea salt, pepper, fresh parsley
- 1 cup Pomodori pelati (peeled tomatoes, canned or fresh)