Creamy Tagliatelle with Black Cabbage, Shopping in the Neighbourhood and Personal Meditations on Ven
Some of you may have noticed that I have been writing a little less about Venice lately, and this is because it has been a period of thoughts and meditations (and a lot of work too...). I have always wanted to keep the blog as a positive space where I could focus on the pros of living in Venice, but the reality is that the city is changing and I am not sure I like what is happening.
It's not a novelty, it's years that Venice is going through radical transformations, but the speed with which these are happening now is scaring me. I had to change my Food Shopping in Venice post at least three times, because some of the places mentioned have already closed (like Le Perle del Mare in Rialto), and consider that my blog is two years old today, thus relatively 'young'... Consider also that while small shops have closed, big supermarkets have opened. Right now, the fish stalls in Rialto are 5 and the plan of the administration is to transform the Loggie into a small centre with the museum of trade and quality restaurants. Of course, I am happy if this will give the opportunity to those few fishmongers to survive and maintain the service for locals too, but... it also highlights how much tourism has become like a terrible drug that is killing this place. I'm a bit doubtful also because the funds are coming from private investors, and I have personally never heard of privates investing money to help local communities and, anyway, the target audience and the type of service is certainly not addressed to the local population... Sometimes I wish Brugnaro had the same plans for Venice as the ones he has for Mestre and Marghera, where the funds invested -though- are public (I'm sure you can grasp my opinion between the lines...).
As for Vito and myself, next year our rental contract expires and to be honest with you, if our landlady decides not to renew it or to increase the rent... I have no idea what will be of us, and sometimes it feels tiring to constantly live in a state of precariousness. But I have hopes and, even if I confide in our landlady's intelligence, I am starting to think of a plan B because one never knows in life. What I know, for sure, is that I want to stay.
I want to stay because Venice is my home and there is no place like it. So many people have asked me how I can cope with the fleets of tourists in the summer (well, throughout the year now) and how I can accept passing from creative jobs to low skill jobs when needed, just to stay here and pay a high rent for a tiny apartment. How can I make them understand that, for me, despite all the limits, the quality of life in the lagoon is so high that it would take nothing to make it better? Venice is a city with plenty of potential, if you ask me, I see it as a second seat for some sort of European governative agency, for international artists and important congresses. With the extended wifi service called Venice Connected and the third most important international airport in Italy, we have all the right cards to play, we just need the will and an administration with a long-term plan focused on the lagoon (and not just the mainland...).
In what other city can one walk everywhere? A city with no cars, where kids can run freely in the streets without risks, where I -and all other women- can jog at 6 am in the morning without fears, with art and history at every corner and a unique and very solid social tissue, made of people that walk the same streets and all know each other (and each other's business...a lot of gossip going on here!) and help each other, a place where one never feels alone, because you just need to step out of the house and you will hear someone call your name and invite you for a coffee (or a spritz...). In Venice, everywhere I look I see beauty. I see beauty even in the fading window blinds and cracking old doors, in the old signs with stylish fonts emerging from the walls, which remind us of what there was once (like in the picture above, with the sign PLIP -the old milk factory located in Mestre- just next to one of my husband's favourite cheese shops, the only one where he buys the formaggio Friulano). I could continue forever listing what makes living here so special to me, but I'm sure those of you who have been reading me from the beginning know them well.
Look, the other morning I was finally free and felt blessed because the weather was lovely. Still freezing cold, but sunny and with a sky so clear that it almost felt as if we could touch the Dolomites. Vittorio was working, so I decided to do some shopping in the neighbourhood and pass by his workplace to say hello. I crossed Campo Santa Maria Formosa, Campo Santa Marina, Miracoli and had a coffee with him at Caffè Brasilia in Strada Nuova. When he returned to his duties, I went to buy our greens in the stall in Rio Tera' Barba Frutariol and then decided to proceed towards Campo dei Gesuiti and have another coffee at We Crociferi, just to do myself some good. It may sound silly, but these are the small things that make me happy, sitting in a beautiful cafeteria, surrounded by students, locals and foreigners, sipping my coffee and leafing through the papers.
From there I took the longer way, walking along F.ta Nove and then stopping for bread and frittelle (Vito's weakness) at Crosera bakery. That area is wonderful for me, it's incredible how it is always tranquil and peaceful, even in the warmer months. A beautiful residential area.
When I arrived home, I decided to cook tagliatelle. I will immediately say that I bought the tagliatelle at the supermarket (I got the Integrali ViviVerde Coop ones). I do love to make pasta, but I don't have the machine for cutting tagliatelle and the last time I tried, the flavour was delicious, but the shape recalled more the one of maltagliati (which literally means poorly cut). I did make the pesto though! I don't know if I can actually call it pesto, maybe it's more like a thick cream/dressing, in fact I sautéed the black cabbage in the pan with garlic, dried tomatoes and chilli, then I blended it with walnuts and olive oil in the mixer. DE-LI-CIOUS !!! For inflammation reasons, I'm drastically cutting down dairy, so my version is great for vegans, while Vito added a great amount of parmesan to his!
I enjoy cooking in the morning because I do all my cutting, chopping and blending at the table. My house, in fact, may be tiny, but... what a view I have from my kitchen window! I can see the cupolas of San Zaccaria change colour in the different hours of the day, the cosy corte del pozzo roverso (court of the upside down well) beneath my house and I understand how windy it is looking at how much the tree branches are moving. It is in front of this view that I enjoy my simple dish of pasta, so... I hope you'll like it too and buon appetito!!!
CREAMY WHOLEWHEAT TAGLIATELLE WITH SPICY BLACK CABBAGE
Prep. Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 6/8 minutes
180 gr whole wheat tagliatelle
1 black cabbage
2 dried tomatoes
5/6 crushed walnuts
1 chilli pepper
1 crushed clove of garlic
extra virgin olive oil
1. Wash and finely chop the black cabbage. Heat a pan, add oil, garlic, chilli and roughly sliced dried tomatoes; when the oil starts popping add the black cabbage. Give it a stir, remove garlic, lower the heat and with the tips of your fingers, sprinkle some water onto the pan. Cook for about 6/8 minutes at medium heat, adding water whenever the pan seems to be getting dry.
2. When ready, let it cool and then blend it with your crushed walnuts and a good amount of oil. (optional: if you wish you can add some grated parmesan to your sauce now.)
3. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add a pinch of salt of the tagliatelle. Cook the pasta one minute less than the time indicated on the pack.
4. When ready, drain the pasta and finish cooking it in the pan with a little bit of its cooking water and the black cabbage sauce.
5. Top with extra walnuts or parmesan and serve.