Tag Archives: polenta

Veneto unpacked (and served)

Clockwise starting from top left: broccolo fiolaro, polenta, sarde alla veneziana, frico morbido, folpetti alla busara, bacala alla vicentina (center), asiago cheese

Prepackaged heat-n-serve meals go against my line of thinking when it comes to italian meals, but sometimes the aesthetics of cooking takes a back seat when all we want is just a little taste. Over the weekend we dug into some foods purchased on our way out of Veneto and all I know is this – we just gotta get back to the region again.

To start: sarde alla veneziana (sardines, venetian-style with onions and vinegar) and young asiago cheese with onion compote. I love onion anything.

Polenta 2 ways: baccala cooked in milk and baby octopus in a richly-flavored tomato sauce. The polenta is sliced from a thick slab and warmed on an oiled skillet until heated through.

Vegetable: broccolo fiolaro (a local variety of broccoli) and hard-boiled eggs. Cultivated in the Vicenza province, it has a vague sweet note and you can also eat the leaves. Enjoy it steamed or boiled with a little salt, pepper and olive oil.

More cheese. And potato. All in a flat, hot, delicious little round. Who can resist anything that has potato and cheese? Frico morbido is actually from the Friuli region and one of the best things to eat on a gloomy spring day. Just make sure not to burn your mouth!


Dogs welcome at the Fasulin de l’oc cun le cudeghe

Yes. I cani possono entrare. Nine years ago at the Fasulin de l’oc event in Pizzighettone for the very first time, dogs weren’t included on the welcome mat. Fortunately for us at the time of our visit, someone took kindly to our plight and we were shown to a quiet section, far from the main dining area.

Well now things have changed. Dogs (cats too, if we are to take the sign above at face value) and their peeps have a designated space at the very end in Casamatta 21. We had no idea about this, but a kind soul noticed our bewildered faces, pointed us in the right direction, and suggested that one of us could get the food while the other sat with the dogs. This event grows bigger with each year and I’m glad we took his advice – look at that line below.

While the wait may have been longer than expected (about 30′), the quality and quantity of the dishes still remain the same after all these years. Black-eyed peas (fasulin de l’oc) and pork skin (cudeghe) nestled in a thick, flavorful broth. A popular example of comfort food in Italy no matter what the weather’s like outside.

Sunday lunch for 30€: black-eyed peas and pork skin soup, raspadura cheese, cheese cubes and mostarda, lardo and salame, grilled polenta, bread and wine.

Festa di Sant’Antonio Abate

January 17th – feast day of Sant’Antonio Abate, also known as Anthony the Great, Anthony of the Desert, and Father of All Monks among other titles. Widely popular in italian proverbs and idioms, St. Anthony was the one to turn to when something went missing or was lacking in your life. Searching for a husband? Misplaced your gold ring? He is your saint.

“Sant’Antonio fammi sposare che sono stufa di tribolare”.
(St. Anthony find me a husband as I’m sick of being single.)
“Sant’Antonio con i pantoloni di velluto, fammi ritrovare quello che ho perduto”.
(St. Anthony with the velvet pants, let me find what I’ve lost.)

As the patron saint of butchers, farmers, ranchers, and protector of farm and domestic animals, festivals held in his honor occur during the week leading up to the 17th. Small or large, it’s a way to explore local neighborhoods, but it is especially big with pet owners when the priest does a blessing of the animals.

This past Sunday we went to one such occasion in nearby Olginate. They had games for the kids, a marching band, roasting chestnuts, open house of a 13th century convent (above), and a big tent offering set menus accompanied by the local beer. They fed us well for 43€!

Sant'Antonio Abate Sunday lunch
1. 2 plates of local salumi and cheese
2. fried tiny lakefish with lemon
3. buckwheat polenta
4. risotto with braised pork ribs

Sant'Antonio Abate Sunday lunch

Tender braised pork shank on polenta and a couple of zeppole (like a cream puff shaped in a donut). Everything was spot on delicious and perfect on that cold and windy afternoon.

Given the sociable predisposition of dogs it was no surprise that there were lots of them and zero cats. Big dogs, little dogs, happy dogs, yappy dogs, quiet dogs, psycho dogs, and then there was Maddie the flirt and Mister the I-don’t-want-to-fit-in-the-photo.

Sant'Antonio Abate dogs

In Veneto, legend has it that animals acquire the ability to speak on the night of January 17. During this time farmers stayed clear of the barn because to hear animals talking was seen as a bad omen. Oh where is Dr. Doolittle when you need him?

Sant'Antonio Abate dog blessing

If these two could speak I can tell you what they’d be saying. FEED US!