• Nicoletta Fornaro

A Morning at the Lido Market and a Fig Cake Recipe


Venice in summer is definitely challenging. The climate, especially in July and August, is incredibly hot, and when I say hot, I mean pure dampness. The humidity that rises from the waters of the lagoon permeates the city in a thick watery veil and us inhabitants in small dew-like drops. In this period, the islands are the places to go to, offering a bit of shelter from the heat and a nice occasional breeze.

The island I go to the most is Lido, where I was born and where both my parents live. In addition to this, Lido is also where the beaches are, so if I have a full day, I like going to Alberoni, otherwise I sometimes take advantage of my father's hut at the Excelsior. My favourite activity, though, remains food shopping! As some of you know, every week there are two markets on the Lido, one on Tuesday, much bigger and with all sorts of things besides food (kitchenware, clothes, shoes, fishing tools, etc.), and the Friday Farmers Market, by far my favourite!

As you can read from Riccardo's apron (Riccardo Ballarin is a farmer from Vignole), here the food is right, with the word giusto meaning both correct and fair. All producers come from the nearby territory and offer natural/organic food. It's possible to buy greens, cheese and other dairy products, meat and cold cuts, flowers, oils and condiments, and bread and flour. As everyone, I have my reference stalls, one of which is the Vignole's! My mum has become a regular client too and the weeks I can't go, she always provides me with a little bag of goodies ("Riccardo gave me some extra veg, I'm sure it was for you" she tells me). We describe their fruit and veg as 'brutta ma buona' (ugly but tasty) and we start a sort of fun recipe competition, sending each other pictures and sharing tips. If possible, we try to have a family lunch once a week and I bring something from home. Last week, she was definitely the winner! Not only her baked purple carrots tasted amazing, also the raw marinated zucchini were amazing: sliced super thinly (mum, in case you are reading, could you get me that cutting machine too? Thanks!) and covered with the juice of a lemon, mint and extra virgin olive oil.

In general, I always bring some sort of hummus or legume spread and sometimes a cake. Being sensitive to yeast, I tend to make my own bread and morning cakes, so at the Lido Friday market I never fail to stop at the Dal Bo Tarcisio truck. The farm is based outside Treviso and it is specialised in stone ground flour, apples (thus apple related products, like apple juice and cider vinegar) and, in the different seasons, a few vegetables. They also sell loaves of bread, pieces of jam tarts, cakes and addictive cookies. Maybe not as inviting for those with a sweet tooth, but I always buy the rusks, which I eat every morning topped with honey or use as base for simple home bruschette. The flour is of the 1,5 type, meaning that it is stone ground and almost fully whole. In Italy, in fact, the types of flours are classified from the 00 type (the whitest and most treated one, but widely used in lots of regional recipes, both sweet and savoury) to type 2 (the most nutrient, rich in proteins and minerals, whole and stone ground).

The difference in taste between the different types of flours is notable. With my husband we played a game. I once made the same cake, but with two different types of flours, and he had to to a sort of 'blind taste test'. Well, he was well able to choose the better one and told me that the main difference was in the aftertaste. Anyway, I recommend to visit the Lido's Friday Farmers Market to anyone passionate about good food and curious to learn more about the food Venetians eat in their homes! Just behind the market there is a small park with some benches and two or three tables, ideal space for a picnic! I don't do it that often just because I either go straight to the beach or return home with a heavy load of food. In fact, as resolution, I always tell myself not to buy a lot, but then, when I arrive in Riviera di Corinto and see all those deliciousness, I just can't resist!

The cake recipe I'm sharing today is super simple and involuntarily vegan (I realised it only after reading the list of ingredients!). Please consider that I'm not so fond of sugar, so if you like your sweets to be really sweet, I suggest to add 50 gr more of sugar. Another important consideration is that I use a tiny electrical oven, so you may need to adapt a little the timing. I used two varieties of black figs, some from Vignole and some bought at the Dal Bo Tarcisio truck, natural lemons, organic brown sugar and the above mentioned whole wheat flour.

Really lovely, with a natural homey flavour. I'm surely going to bring it to my mother's at our next lunch and I hope you'll like it too!

RECIPE: #VEGAN FIG CAKE

Prep. Time: 10'

Cook Time: 35/40'

Yield: 8/10 slices

Ingredients:

300 gr whole wheat flour

120 gr brown sugar

16 gr baking powder

4 black figs

300 ml water

100 ml olive (or seeds) oil

natural lemon zests

1/2 lemon juice

a pinch of salt

Directions:

1) Pre-heat oven at 180 degrees.

2) In a bowl combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, lemon zests and a pinch of salt. Mix with a wooden spoon.

3) In a jar add some warm water, the oil and the lemon juice and stir to blend the liquids.

4) Rinse and dry the figs, cut them in half lengthwise and then horizontally in thin slices. Keep aside.

5) Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and with a wooden spoon stir until everything is well amalgamated. At this point add 3 figs and give a final stir.

6) Put some parchment paper on your baking pan, grease and pour the dough. With a knife, practice a cut at the centre (like a cross) and use the last fig to decorate the top.

7) Bake at 180 degrees for about 35/40 minutes. When ready let sit in the oven for 5/10 minutes and wait for it to cool.

Excellent served with yogurt and fresh fish. I also like to grate some extra lemon zests on top.

#VeniceFoodShopping #VeniceFoodStories #sweetrecipes

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