We discover that we can get lost in less than 10 minutes.
We arrive at the train station. The vaporetto stops are just out the front. For €15 each, we buy a 24 hour pass. Only one of the booths takes credit cards, the others take cash only. We remember to validate our passes.
We debate going to Murano because Robin hasn’t been there, but has been to Venice before. But first, we need some lunch. One of the owners draws on a map the path to go from the hotel to a enoteca which will be open and serving some food as it is already after 2 p.m. We head out and in less than 10 minutes we are at a bridge and street neither of which are marked on any of the 3 maps we have. We eventually find our way to Prosecco [Santa Croce 1503, Campo San Giacomo dall’Orio; 011-39-041-524-0222], the enoteca we are looking for. The bar, not surprising, has a lot of prosecco and some interesting looking snacks included marinated fish, which is not red wine friendly, so we don’t try it.
We saw rain for most of the train trip to Venice but the sun is now out, we’ve ordered a Veneto red wine, some panini and a variety of cheeses, and Murano looks like an unrealistic possibility. Instead, Robin proposes after we finish eating and drinking, that we walk around and if we get lost, try to figure it out from there.
After lunch, I suggest we try to find Basilica Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari [Piazza dei Frari, open Mon-Sat 9-6pm, admission of €2.5] where there are 2 Titian paintings, Assumption of the Virgin and Madonna di Ca Pesaro. I did a presentation on the Madonna painting for a Italian Renaissance history class I took, but have never actually seen it. After a lot of wrong turns, we find the church and look at the Titians.
We decide to walk back to the hotel by a different route, get lost some more but eventually find our way.
The menu items are not traditional at all. We are served two amuses, a rabbit consommé and tuna tartare. My starter of four “Cicchetti” was a squid ink gelatin square topped with a poach prawn, squid and a seared scallop; mousse of eel and crab, baccala on a brioche with yoghurt and an anchovy surrounding an anchovy mousse topped with a caper. Scott had squid salad. Robin’s starter was an elaborate layered dish of guinea hen, handmade pasta, cheese flan and tangerine. Scott and I split a risotto “Amatriciana”. Many of the items came with scare quotes. The risotto was given its name presumably because it was made with a very smoky pancetta and tomatoes, surrounded by a pesto sauce and topped with prawns and pine nuts. Robin had handmade pasta with lentils, a rice cracker, fish and a sauce with a curry spice, cardamom, we thought. For secondi, I had hare “salumi” which was jugged hare formed into a sausage shape accompanied by a juniper flan which had the most amazing taste. Scott had baby beef cheeks done in Valpolicella with blood oranges and onions. Robin had red mullet on an artichoke heart with almonds, olives and a “nougat” which was a sauce we couldn’t identify.
Again, we manage two bottles, this time of Barolo and a Guado al Tasso, an Antinori super Tuscan. For the latter, I have a long chat with the sommelier about the various choices. Here, too, he cures the wine glasses before pouring the wine. The sommelier, who has become our best friend by this point, notices that we are going to share the chocolate tasting dish, so he recommends something which he says is not on the menu because they found it in the cellars. It is a Barbaresco Chinato, similar to the Barolo Chinato, a slightly sweet wine flavoured with herbs. The bottles he brings out do not even have a label on them. It makes a very interesting compliment to the chunks of different dark chocolate we are served. We are completely full but are brought a tray of tiny pastries and manage to eat most of them.
The meal was a unique experience and not nearly the astronomical cost we expected, in fact, it is less than Il Convivio.
It is after midnight so we have to wait for the night vaporetto. I can see Palladio’s San Giorgio Maggiore across the laguna. Interestingly, I realize the facade, which is travertine, looks nothing like the rest of the building which is brick.