Last weekend, autumn was palpable in Venice …. complete with cool breeze, showers, hazy-milky clouds yet there was a hint of summer warmth and pockets of sunshine in the secret corners of the courtyards. So this week, and to relaunch our Food Blog Cucina Speziata, we invite you to join us for a stroll across the Rialto Market. We left early on that Saturday morning to arrive at the market before the crowds …
In this series of seven blog posts, one published each day this upcoming week, we take you to shop for groceries at the Rialto Market. You will see the bounty of autumn in Venice herbs, fruit and groceries, and finally, how we use all that produce, herbs, blossoms and spices in the kitchen :-)
In the picture above you can see a fine basket of aromatic herbs I need to make our favorite scrambled eggs dish. First, there is maggiorana (marjoram) growing wild on the southwestern shores of Italy. Next to it, you can see dried oregano. Actually, this is a varietà selvatica, oregano of wild origin, harvested on the slopes of the Monti Lattari (above the Amalfi Coast). True, at the Rialto market these days, you do get bounty from near and far :-), the way it has been for 1,500 years.
In the basket, you can also recognize free fresh fennel and water mint, tarragon and the ubiquitous basil. A mixture of these herbs will go into a hearty breakfast dish at home, uova strappazzate alle erbe selvatiche.
In Venice, you may have noticed, we eggs all day long. They are called vovi in Venetian, and often come as part of the antipasti plates called cicheti. Then, you can even find restaurants that offer pizze with fried eggs in the center, and that’s a favorite of some Venetians :-)
Actually, we eat scrambled eggs all day long, making baked dishes with rice (looks and tastes exotic), or even fried potatoes in olive oil and scrambled eggs (that was my grandfather’s favorite snack) …
A little note about the herbs you find at the Rialto Market. A friend told me how disappointed she was that there were so many dried herbs on offer at the market stalls. Actually, these herbs are locally sourced and an absolute necessity to cook in the cooler season. I can’t imagine Venetian cooking without dried herbs in autumn and winter, and early spring. Also, the mixtures are quite flowery (as you can see below), but you need to know how to use them … for example, I buy calendula and cornflower blossoms to garnish vegan chocolate cake served in a jar :-)
To prepare your uova strappazzate, you need to fry slices of spring onions, wild marjoram leaves (fresh), and a garlic clove in pan in olive oil, together with 1- 2 tomatoes (sliced). As soon as the garlic cloves turn slightly brown, add the eggs, bake them and season the dish with sea salt, black pepper and chili flakes.
Garnish with green grapes, basil leaves and parmesan flakes. That’s all ! And, you might like some toasted bruschetta, that is, 1-2 toasted slices of bread. We’d use the white sour bread from the Rialto Market
Of course, before we leave the market, we stop here …. this is Pasticceria Dolce Vita Cafe, and they are well-known for their delicious pistachio cream-filled cornetti. We’ll talk about these presently :-) Cornetto means croissant in Italian, by the way. By the way, do take a look at their website and fabulous pastries here !
Tomorrow we’ll continue with the second course of our hearty breakfast, which is a sweet warm polenta, garnished with nectarines, plums, honey, rose blossoms and cornflower petals :-)