Last week I joined a Venice food tour of the Rialto Markets and cicchetti tasting with wine.
Many of you will not have eaten cicchetti (pronounced chee-KEH-tee) and may never have heard of this food culture in Venice. They are bite-sized snacks eaten with a glass of wine.
Cicchetti can be crostini with tasty toppings, small panini, fritti (fried things, often fish) or polpette (meat balls). These delicious snacks are served in “bàcari”- a type of wine-bar unique to Venice. Here, to accompany your cicchetti you will have an ombra, a small glass of local wine. Legend has it that the word “ombra”, which means “shadow”, comes from the days when people would drink their “ombra” in the shade of the campanile (bell tower) in Piazza San Marco.
One of the favourite cicchetti toppings is baccalà mantecato – creamed salt-cod. Others are speck, salami, prosciutto crudo or robiola cheese mixed with black truffle. Diving down the side-streets close to the Rialto Market, we began our food tour with an aperitivo of Prosecco and two cicchetti each.
Heading down a maze of alleyways, we arrived at a cosy bàcaro for a lunch tasting of polpette with polenta, and calamari fritti on a skewer. Accompanied by some local Merlot, this was followed by yet more cicchetti and a glass of Verduzzo.
Finally, it was coffee at an old coffee-house, where the coffee selection seemed limitless.
Then a bottle of grappa was produced. I did as my guide recommended and rinsed the leftover coffee out of my tiny cup with a splash of grappa; this is known as a “grappa rinse”.
Saying mellow goodbyes, we wandered, once more, into the shady alleyways of Venice.
Cicchetti tour was courtesy of Walks of Italy.