Archive for the ‘Venice’ Category

Dad, restaurant owner, and Mom at Osteria Ai Specchieri


Bread with olive oil



Pizza with salami, mushrooms and artichokes

Tuna salad with mozzarella

Jamie says:  Oops… I forgot a great meal from our trip!  Here it is!  Better late than never.

Kathryn says:  After touring Doge’s Palace, our stomachs were grumbling. Just down the street, we popped into Osteria Ai Specchieri (Calle Larga San Marco 654 Venezia; tel. 041-523-7918) to give it a try.

The owner was super-friendly and instantly befriended us. After he took our orders, he sat down at the table next to us to eat his lunch.

I got a delectable fried calamari, which was perfectly crispy, salty and lemony, and a side of polenta, which was plain but good when I drizzled olive oil on top.

Mom got pizza with salami, mushrooms and artichokes, and she was kind enough to share it with J and me. We were amazed by the flavorful cheese and toppings and found it to be our best pizza yet in Italy.

J says:  K was right!  The pizza was quite awesome.  It was hard to resist eating more of Mom’s meal.  I really enjoyed my tuna salad, too.  It was tasty and light.  There was also corn in it again.  Dad got the same thing and liked it, too.

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Margherita (cheese) pizza

Pancetta and mushroom pizza

Maccario, Buffet Stazione (Venice train station)

Jamie says:  We passed by a food court in the train station in Venice that sold pizza by the slice (Maccario, Buffet Stazione; S. TA Lucia Cannaregio 44/45, Venezia, Italy). The set-up and pizza reminded me of the pizza you get at the mall.  It looked delicious.  I ordered a slice of margherita (cheese)- straight from the oven; the man was cutting it as I approached.  It was just what I needed- greasy, hot, classic cheese pizza.  I ordered a second one- this time with pancetta and mushrooms.  It was good, but not nearly as good as the fresh, out-of the-oven cheese slice.  We boarded the train for Roma.

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Tiramisu (Venice, Italy)

Kathryn says: With a few minutes to spare after lunch and before our train departed for Rome, I fit in a quick to-go order of tiramisu from Bar-Caffe’ Olympia (Cannaregio 116, Lista di Spagna, Venice, Italy – Tel. 041715165). A local Venetian told us that tiramisu was the dessert of Venice, so how could I leave without trying it? I ate it in the train station and went crazy over it. I’m not normally a tiramisu fan, but the layers of cold, thick whipped cream with cinnamon, coffee gelato and sweet vanilla cake put my tastebuds on overdrive. Yes, it was 5 euros, but the fact that it was delicious and came in a glass bowl that I got to keep made it a good deal. I’d been thinking about buying a piece of Venetian glass, so I joked that this was my Venetian glass souvenir.

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Hot salami and provolone wrap (Venice, Italy)

Kathryn says: It was tough to say goodbye to Venice. We boarded the water taxi and I sat at the front, taking in my last moments here as we rode along, watching boats and gondolas pass us by.

When we arrived at the train station, we had about an hour to kill, so we went for a quick lunch. I didn’t expect it to be too good since it was the closest restaurant to the station, but I was pleasantly surprised. I had a flavorful, warm wrap with salami, melted provolone, lettuce and spinach. And I left room for dessert…

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J's hot tea

K's cappuccino

Jamie says:  This may sound crazy, but I would have paid 10 Euros for a bowl of Cheerios or Kashi Heart to Heart for breakfast.  I wanted something light and plain but the typical European hotel breakfast includes pastries/bread, full-fat yogurt, and whole milk.  I ended up enjoying a tea with milk (which I swear tasted like cream) and a Kashi TLC bar I brought from home and a kiwi I saved from the Hotel Maxim. I absolutely LOVED Venice, but as far as breakfasts go, I was ready for a new morning meal; tomorrow, we’d be waking up in Rome.

Kathryn says: I was sad to leave Venice. This city really captured my heart. I wonder what did it –  the gondola ride with the singing Italian gondoleer? the breathtaking paintings and gold art in St. Mark’s Basilica? the water and gorgeous view from the shore? the couples dancing to the classical orchestras in St. Mark’s plaza?  It’s no wonder Rick Steve’s podcast said it’s the most romantic city in Italy.

I woke up early on our last morning to squeeze in some extra time here. While the rest of the family slept, I crept downstairs around 7 a.m. for a quick cappuccino at the hotel before venturing off. I’m normally not a coffee drinker, but I enjoyed the foamy treat with brown sugar mixed in. To make it even sweeter, I put a bit of Nutella on my spoon and drank my cappuccino out of the spoon, letting the creamy chocolate hazelnut spread melt into the foamy, hot coffee in my mouth. This was my breakfast of choice. Like J, I was kind of tired of croissants and yogurt by this point in the trip. After my coffee, I headed out to the docks to watch the sun rise and the empty gondolas sway with the waves and to admire the gorgeous glass Mary shrine that rose up out of the water a few feet away. Goodbye, Venice. You will be missed.

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Chocolate and tiramisu gelato

Jamie says:  After our walk back from dinner, my second stomach opened up and I was ready to try some Venetian gelato.  I also wanted to compare it to the gelato I had in Florence (the city known for its gelato).  I ordered chocolate and tiramisu- tiramisu is the dessert Venice is known for- and shared it with K.  I liked the chocolate and K liked the tiramisu- perfect, again.  It tasted like ice cream but didn’t rival the gelato we had in Florence.  We met up with Mom and Dad in St. Mark’s Square, enjoyed a last tasting of the orchestra’s classical music, and strolled home.

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Our family at Trattoria da Giorgio ai Greci

Bread rolls

Vegetable soup

J's gnocchi in tomato sauce

K's anchovy pasta

Jamie says:  I was on a mission to find Trattoria da Giorgio ai Greci (S. Lorenzo, Castello, 4988-89 – 30122 Venezia, Italy; tel. 0415289780), a restaurant highlighted as the best canal-side dining in the Rick Steves’ Italy guidebook.  It was quite romantic- a canal-side table, the music of an accordion player, and an entertaining and patient waiter.  I ordered a vegetable soup and gnocchi with tomato sauce.  The bread was pretty good and went very well in the comforting, hot, soup.  With some salt and parmesan cheese, the gnocchi was just what I needed.  The conversation at the table was the best.  We realized we just passed the half-way point of our trip.  We reflected on the trip by making up pretend awards.  Some of them included: Unsung Hero Award, Most Improved Pedestrian Award, Time Keeper Award, Navigator Award, Trip Planner Award, Romantic Award, “Most Likely to Give Yourself An Award” Award, and others.

Kathryn says: Our “family awards ceremony” at dinner had me cracking up. I think my favorite award was the one J gave me, the “Best Food Orderer” award; she said she’d been impressed by my tasty meal selections thus far in the trip. This particular evening, however, my main dish was just OK. I ordered the anchovy pasta, which was plain and a bit oily.  My appetizer, the vegetable soup, was better – it tasted fresh and homemade.

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Chocolate truffles

Dark chocolate candy

Our purchase

Eating our truffle

Jamie says:  On the gondola ride, we passed a cute little chocolate store that I never thought we would find again.  But on the way back home we walked passed it.  The shop was called VizioVirtu Cioccolateria (San Polo 2816/15 Venezia; tel. 00390412440301; www.viziovirtu.com).  K and I gazed into the storefront window and found two chocolates that captured our eyes.  A chocolate truffle and a dark chocolate candy.  I favored the truffle and K took a liking to the dark chocolate candy, which had an interesting crunchy hazelnut/almond nougat filling.

K says: The chocolate truffle was smooth and creamy, more bitter than sweet, and dusted in cocoa powder. The candy tasted like toffee. They looked better than they tasted, but they certainly satisfied our chocolate craving and made for a sweet ending.

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Cookies in storefront window

Jamie says:  The display window of cookies in a little dessert storefront were quite beautiful, but I was more in a chocolate mood.  Mom ordered a pistachio cookie (pan pistachio) and K and I sampled it.  We all agreed it was much prettier than it tasted.  It was dry and not very flavorful.  One bite was plenty… I was saving room for chocolate.

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The bar

Hot ham and cheese samples

J's proseco

K's Spretz

The family on a gondola

Jamie says:  We were going on a gondola ride!  Before boarding, we found a quaint bar and ordered drinks.  While we waited, we sampled the tasty, little hot ham and cheese sandwiches the bartender placed on the counter. For drinks, I chose Prosecco, “the wine of Venice” according to the Sun Sentinel article “A tour of Veneto region’s wines” (September 1, 2011), Mom followed suite, Dad ordered a rum and Sprite, and K sought the advice of the bar tender and ordered a “Venetian signature”- Spretz.

K says: The Spretz was sweet and tangy – a mix of white wine, apricot liquor, Campari, and sparkling water. It came with a large green olive on a stick and a slice of orange.

We boarded the gondola with our drinks in hand. I felt like I was in a dream as we wove through the charming canals of Venice in the late afternoon breeze. Alexander, our gondoleer, sang Italian love songs to us. He decided to profess his love to me about halfway through the ride, which was hilarious, although Dad quickly drew the line.

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