Venice Must Eats: Gnocchetti alla Veneziana and Seafood Platter
When you have fully immersed yourself to Venice’s popular sights like admiring Tintoretto’s painting inside the Doge’s Palace, the intricate mosaics inside St Mark’s Cathedral, seen a Murano glassblower in action and perhaps listened to Vivaldi’s Concerto, then I guess, it’s high time to immerse ourselves to the famous Venetian cuisine, Gnocchi or Gnocchetti alla Veneziana.
Indeed, this potato flour turned pasta is a popular dish among Venetians. Legend has it that in the past, St Pantaleone asked some poor farmers for food. Despite the hardships, the farmers offered him what they had and in turned been blessed by the saint. In honor to St Pantaleone, they have prepared a simple dish yet very delicious to mark that thanksgiving day that falls on the 29th of September. Later on, this dish has been so popular that eating Gnocchi on that day is considered a sign of good luck.
Through the years, Venetians have fallen in love with Gnocchi. They have learned different ways in making the best Gnocchi dish in town. As a maritime republic and highly revered one in the past, it’s not surprising to know that Gnocchi is best served with seafood. So many restaurants offered their original style or perhaps a hand-down knowledge from ancestors in concocting that mouth-watering Gnocchi alla Veneziana.
What are the secrets then to a sumptuous Gnocchi dish? The pasta need not be soft nor hard, a little bit chewy with some air on it. And grandmas would add that every gnocchi must be really immersed in the soup, a fish soup, crab soup or anything you could think of. It should be completely soaked, stirred continuously to absorb the desired flavor. Every restaurants would add their own style and signature to it, either adding some leaves, vegetables but a simple yet traditional way is always the best.
With this in mind, I did find myself a small trattoria away from the maddening crowd. I followed a group of local people, perhaps attending a party or just recently watched a concerto in one of the small churches some 20 minutes away from the Accademia. I thought they know where the best trattorias are. Indeed, without any iota of doubt, I pampered myself to the most delicious Venetian dish I had ever tasted. Mind you, after being to some Michelin-awardee restaurants, my palate became a bit snobbish and surprisingly discerning. I realized that I became a bit particular to local cuisines, adventurous, daring, always looking for the extra-sensory taste, beyond what my normal taste buds have been accustomed to. In short, I yearn for something special, albeit, short that heavenly pleasure is.
And yes, with a good wine in hand, I had the most enjoyable early dinner affair of my life. With the gondola slowly making its way along the narrow canals, and the teasing of the fading sun, I was just captured instantly and without any hesitation at all, enjoying my famous Gnocchetti alla Veneziana.