Our last day has been pretty glorious despite the damp and drizzly weather here. The previous two days were sunny and pleasantly cool.
We moved into the hotel Palace Bonvecchiati today and Daniel, the friendly manger here, upgraded us to a huge modern room with a view of a canal. As K said, this is the best room we have stayed in together in Europe. The layout is rather unique and there is a writing desk the moment one enters and K said I had to write on it. Which I am doing right now and it is quite a change from siting on hotel beds and blogging which I did all this while on the trip.
K is deliriously happy with the room which is great. She is the one who found this hotel after we landed in Venice and first checked into the hotel we had booked through booking.com, The Best Western Monte Carlo.
The Monte Carlo was fairly easy to reach. We took the rather crowded water bus number 1 down the scenic Grand Canal from the Venice train a station when we arrived a couple of days back. We took a Tren Italia train this time from Milan which didn't have wifi unlike the earlier .Italo trains that we took.
It was fairly easy to reach the hotel from San Marco Square through which we dragged our suitcases to the hotel. We were shocked by the tiny rooms that they offered us and finally got a slightly larger one with no view. The room was dank and musty unlike what the picture on the net showed and K was very upset. Specially since we were paying Taj Mumbai sea view room rates here for a rather crummy room. The bathroom was clean but took a while to get hot water. It was like staying in an old North Kolkata house has glory days are long gone. The Ms Havisham of hotel rooms.
Which is when K decided to look out and we managed to get this beautiful room at Bonvecchiati on the last day. Almost like a goodbye gift from Venice and Italy to us.
Coincidentally the magnificent room at Bonvechhiati cost us the same as what we paid for the depressing room at Monte Carlo (about 220 euros a night).
We took a city porter to go one from hotel to another at 20 euros for 2 bags which helped us avoid dragging stuff over the bridges.
Cost us 15 when we left to take the water bus to the airport today.
We have just got back from a lovely dinner from a place called Osteria Alle Testiere recommended to me by blogger Anoosrini.
It is a small place where you have to book and go which our hotel did for us. We walked through the tiny lanes in Venice in the drizzle to reach there and got a table after a short wait. The place had a nice buzz. Owner partner, Luca, who looks like Ben Kinglsey, went from table to table taking orders.
The restaurant specialises in seafood and has a daily menu depending on the catch of the day. There is no cover charge here and the bread is good and free which is rare for Italy. The place is nearly as small as Cafe Churchill in Mumbai but has a washroom unlike Curchill and a clean one too. The kitchen is small and looked busy.
We had a spaghetti with clams to start with. Cooked with olive oil, white wine and clam stock. Seasoned perfectly and brilliantly understated in its flavours and yet a dish which lit up your senses. This is the sort of pasta I want to go back home and cook.
We followed this with red tuna done in a Mediterranean style. Slightly seared on the sides and rare in the centre as they show in Masterchef Australia. Served with fresh porcini mushroom. Tasted pretty good and punchy and the fish was juicy.
A brilliant gastronomic opera to end the holiday with and the meal cost us 51 euros. The rest of Italy made Rome seem cheap.
Our last dinner was a far cry from the overheated pizza slice and tepid cappuccino that Venice station welcomed us with at the store in the station next to the Grom gelato outlet when we landed here.
We had some great meals at Venice and the odd not so great one. The undercooked roast duck and taste less duck pasta at Leon would fall under the latter.
Last night's dinner at Osteria San Marco (different from Ristorante SM) was epiphanic. A posher place than Testiere where we were lucky to get a place without a booking. I chanced upon it through Tripadvisor reviews. The food matched up to the reviews though some people said it was cheap which it didn't seem to be.
K had a crab meat spaghetti which was bursting with the flavours of the abundant crab meat in it. A far cry from the crab fried rice or crab soup in Mainland China back home in Mumbai where you can never spot the crab. A dish which proves that Italian food is far from bland and is actually packed with taste if you go to the right place and put yourself in the hands of the right chef.
I had the most expensive dish of the trip at Osteria San Marco and the most exquisite one too.
A Venetian steak, done medium raw. Seasoned well which a nice char. Topped with a crown of bewitchingly grilled foie gras. The combination had me oohing and aching through every bite. My dish of the trip for sure.
The meal came to about 54, come to think about it, not that much more than today's.
There there was the lovely Genovese pasta done with a thin local spaghetti called trenette which we had for lunch yesterday at a restaurant called Noemi which we happened to walk into. Genovese means a pesto based pasta which brought back memories of the pesto pasta that I first had In the now shut restaurant called Da Vinci in Bandra. That's the first time that I actually liked a pasta and became a pesto fan since then. The flavours in this simple dish were epiphanic at Noemi and gave me pleasure.
Then there was our first night's meal at a place called Osteria La Campana which we chose after seeing a happy mix of local families and a few tourists. Seemed like a mom and pop, dhaba sort of place where the chef hugged and kissed a family of locals when they left after their meal.
Here we had two local dishes recommended by my friend Jonaki who is married to an Italian chef and who evidently loves Venice.
We had the Viennese style veal liver which is sauted in white wine with caramelised onions giving a sweet counterpoint to the bitterness of the liver making for a nice balanced dish. The creamy polenta was a good contrast to the liver too.
I had the local squid ink pasta with cattle fish which was quite flavoursome though the its fishy taste notes and large quantity made it a bit too much for one person to finish.
A good introduction to local food which cost us about 40 odd euros I think or a bit under 40.
Here's a vlog I did while having the seafood pasta:
Here's a vlog I did while having the seafood pasta:
Then the was the hot chocolate which I had at the sepia tinted Quadri cafe at the San Marco square giving the over priced historic Florian tea room a miss. The hot chocolate at Quadri cost us about 2 euros if one had it while standing at the bar. Sitting pushed it to 8 plus.
Check out his vlog to see how magical it was at San Marco square:
There were two great visits to the Venchi outlet in Venice of the chain which was started in Rome in 1878. Rosa at Fabio Massimo in Rome had told us about it.
We went for the superbly dense and intense, dark chocolate and no milk gelato yesterday.
We bought chocolates for folks back home from here.
Today I had the thick and heady hot chocolate with barely discernible Cuban rum. The hot chocolate in today's drizzle was perfect just as the gelato was in the sunny afternoon yesterday.
Both were about 3.5 euros each making it almost twice the price of standard gelato places in Italy but then the experience and quality of chocolate was twice as glorious at Venchi.
We took advantage of the sun yesterday and did the gondola ride (80 euros for 30 minutes).
Did we have fun?
We absolutely did and keep taking selfies and shooting videos in between feeling romantic during the ride. No, the gondolier was busy on his phone and didn't sing to us.
Which was good perhaps.
San Marco square was empty today because of the rains.
But we went there yesterday morning and did a 40 years after pic of me with the pegions to go with the pic my dad had taken of me here when I was 6 months old and which my mother had preserved all this while.
The square was pretty magical in the two previous evenings when it was was not raining. There were bands playing classical music those nights. Some people would sit on the chairs and have expensive coffees and listen to the music. The rest of us would stand and watch and take in the music. Some danced and waltzed like the gentleman with a bushy moustache and his young daughter.
And a giggly young couple very much in love, seeing whom, K had the following to say on fb:
'The orchestra plays outside Quadri Cafe in Venice every night. The rich people sit on maroon chairs with their twelve euro cups of hot chocolate to listen to the music.
Then you see lovers who look like they shared an eight-euro pizza for dinner, dancing their souls out to the same piano and the same violins.
Music is for everyone.
Love is for everyone.
#feet #sanmarco #aftersunset #loveismyfavouritesubject
Venice to me has always been the city of romance. In my pimply teenage days I had dreamt of having a honeymoon here when I found the right person.
It was 14 years after we got married that we made it to Venice.
If it wasn't such a cliche, and the phrase wasn't used by someone else, I would say that Eat. Pray. Love is what summed up our stay in Venice.
Every lane of Venice oozes love and most of them lead to great food.
What more could one pray for?