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map-of-Italy

To get you in the valentines mood for ‘amore’ and to continue my culinary tour of Italy, I’m looking at the north-eastern region of Veneto this week. Home to culturally dominating and culinary significant provinces such as Venice, Verona, Treviso and Vicenza. By far one of my most favourite regions, mostly due to the territorial diversity and the culinary traditions that have developed – steeped in history derived from the social and cultural factors affecting the area over the years.  As a result the produce, flavours and aromas represent each province and terrain within the district proudly and beautifully.

There are several dishes and ingredients that define Veneto as a region, including polenta, risotto and Italian chicory that have been staples throughout Venetian, Austrian and Italian rule. One of the most famous dishes of the region is ‘fegato alla veneziana’, Venetian style calf’s liver with onions and polenta. However, Veneto can be divided into three geographical regions, the hills and alpine, the plain and the coastal territory. Venetian cuisine can be divided into these same categories:

THE LOWLAND PLAINS

Meat – The Po Valley stretches from the Alps to the Adriatic Sea and is mostly covered by fog, providing fertile conditions for agriculture. Grilled chicken, beef and pork is often served barbecued, accompanied with polenta and root vegetables

Risotto – A very popular dish in this region cooked with a variety of foods such as seafood, pork and ‘radicchio’ (Italian chicory). ‘Risi e bisi’, or risotto with peas is a traditional warming creamy dish

Pasta – Fettuccine, ravioli and gnocchi are staples in these parts, served with a ragu made from duck meat

THE HILLS AND ALPINE

proscuitto

Meat – Pork, braised beef and game are popular dishes, served with polenta, cheese and mushrooms. Prosciutto Veneto Berico-Euganeo DOP is the regional cured ham of the area and Sopressa Vicentina is cured Salami that also originates in the hills

pasta rf

Pasta – ‘Casunzei’, a half-moon shaped type of ravioli is a regional dish filled with seasonal vegetables or ricotta

Cheese – Asiago is semi-skimmed cow’s milk that is matured in the highlands, it varies in flavour depending on maturation time, but generally has a is slightly spicy taste and is often used in soups, pastas and salted cakes

COASTAL AREAS

Seafood – Along the Venetian Lagoon and coastline of the Adriatic Sea, fish soup or ‘brodetto’ is an established starter. Clams are also prevalent in the area, delicious when simply cooked with fried onions . ‘Sardele in saore’ is a beautifully rich dish of sardine fillets, marinated in softly cooked white onions, usually with vinegar, raisins and pine nuts traditionally eaten in winter.

Pasta – ‘Bigoli’ a traditionally long pasta shape is a regional dish of this area and very commonly served with local seafood

Seafood Risotto

Risotto – Of course seafood risotto ‘Risotto alla pescatora’ is a great way to sample the combined local produce in one dish. Risotto with shrimp ‘risotto con scampi’, tripe with rice ‘riso e trippa’ and rice with black calamari sauce ‘risotto al neri di seppi’ are other classic dishes from this area

Check out my valentines day ‘Risotto alla pescatora recipe here

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