Venice, the fog and a spicy orecchiette with rapini recipe
Some days are luckier than others. This morning started with Vito proudly telling me that he had won 36,62 euros at the superenalotto (an Italian lottery game). After which, he handed me the ticket and added "collect the money and do something nice". Well, thank you! How kind.
When we looked outside the window, Venice was permeated in a thick layer of fog. The climate is strange in these days, it's incredibly humid and it's warmer now than at the beginning of the month. The fog, though, has something particular of its own, and in Venice it is beautiful. It even has a very specific smell, difficult to describe, fresh and watery at the same time, and slightly fizzy.
On days like this, I like to combine both outdoor and indoor activities, so I decided to go to San Trovaso and re-visit its church, which inside, in the Cappella del Santissimo Sacramento, has Tintoretto's "Last Supper" (1566). To reach San Trovaso I passed in front of the Gallerie
dell'Accademia, which, to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the artist, have recently inaugurated the notable exhibition "Il giovane Tintoretto". Although tempted, I didn't stop because I want to wait for Vito. Instead, I took the large calle at the right of the museum, turned right again at the second street, and arrived in Fondamenta Nani. From there I could see one of the few squeri (shipyard for gondolas) left, the small green area and the church.
A man was painting, some other people were eating cicheti and drinking wine at Cantine Schiavi, and I stopped for a moment to enjoy the calmness of the scene. Then I crossed the bridge and proceeded with my mission.
The church of San Trovaso is small and simple, with one nave, some side chapels and a spacious presbytery. According to Giuseppe Tassini, Italian historian of the 19th century, it was built shortly after the foundation of Venice and eventually rebuilt around 1028. Other significant renovations were carried out at the end of the 16th century and in the 19th century. One of its peculiarities is that it has two facades, one overlooking the canal, and the other campo San Trovaso. The visit itself doesn't take long, but it will definitely be worth your time.
Inside, in fact, there is one of the Last Suppers by Tintoretto. It is dated 1566 and it is particularly intriguing for some details. The moment captured is the one when Christ reveals to the apostles that that night one of them will betray him.The representation is dynamic, many details like the books, mantles, walking sticks recall Jewish traditions. The chair on the floor, the hungry cat, the young boy on the left and the general feeling of 'movement', as if something is about to happen, make this painting extremely captivating. The down side is that you won't be able to see it frontally, as it's not possible to walk inside the chapel. Still, if you have the occasion, do pay a visit.
Once out of the church, I went to Zattere for a walk. The fog was still intense and the buildings on the other side of the Canale della Giudecca merely visible. This is the sort of fog I like, the type that folds everything into a soft layer of dew. Unfortunately it never lasts long, in fact, usually it looks beautiful for a couple of hours and then it either becomes dark and grey or ultra white and blinding. Anyway, I was lucky enough to be there at the right time. I stopped at Chioschetto alle Zattere to say hello and drink a quick coffee and then I fled to do my favourite activity: food shopping (for food shopping tips in Venice, please refer to this post here)!
In the end, I spent half of the winnings in food! I got a few bits and pieces for the pantry and a big bag of greens for the week. I have a couple of simple recipes in mind, which I want to combine with some Venetian story.
Today I'm sharing a simple pasta dish: garlicky orecchiette with rapini, anchovies and chilli. Easy, delicious and very flavourful. Although the recipe has no relation with the painting (except if we exclude the fact that rapini are bitter and among the foods that traditionally appear on the table of the Last Suppers there are bitter herbs), I hope you will enjoy it anyway!
RECIPE: GARLICKY ORECCHIETTE WITH RAPINI, CHILLI AND ANCHOVIES
Prep. Time: 20'
Cook Time: 15'
200 gr orecchiette
3 rapini stalks
1 fresh chilli
1 garlic clove
1) Bring a pot of water to a boil.
2) Wash the rapini and chop thinly. Heat a pan, add some oil, a crushed clove of garlic, some chopped chilli and the rapini. Stir, lower the heat and cook for about 10/12 minutes. Remove the garlic and, after a couple of minutes, add the anchovies. Don't let the pan get dry, so every now and then wet sprinkling some water with your fingers.
3) When the water in the pot is boiling, add sea salt (taste water), pour the pasta and cook for the time indicated on the pack.
4) When the pasta is ready, drain and pour immediately on the pan with some of its boiling water. Higher the heat, stir well until the ingredients are well amalgamated, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and serve.
Tip: leftover pasta tastes even better baked in the oven the following day, with an extra topping of breadcrumbs and parmesan