Most of you know I am part of the Pomodori e Vino, cooking blog, dedicated to Marcella Hazan and her wonderful book “Essentials of Italian cooking.” One of the recipes I was randomly assigned was for Pasta with Botarga Sauce. I knew I could never find it in Tallahassee but lucking I came to Venice. And in a great spark of serendipity, Sandi, my partner on the blog, came to Venice, too. So, in the spirit of this charmed life, we set out on a quest to locate, purchase and cook the Botarga.
We first met for coffee, at Cafe del Doge, near the Rialto market. After wandering the marktes for a while, admiring the little purple artichokes and the perfectly red tomatoes, we began the quest in earnest. Botarga is a dried fish roe, considered a delicacy–think dried caviar. First stop was a little stall where they had dried cod in front–I came close but they only had the roe from tuna and I knew we needed Sardinian mullet roe. I learned the word for mullet is mugine and the person sent us around the block.
Finally I spotted a little “gourmet” shop–part of the Casa Parmigiano. The woman in there was so sweet and helpful. Not only did she have the right stuff, she also sold it vacuum packed, already grated so it looks like dried, amber caviar. She also gave us the brochure she had on display with it and I bought a little jar of crema di tartuffo.
We got the rest of things we needed in the veggie market and headed home.
The recipe was simple–onions in butter–toss with the cooked pasta, more butter, lemon zest, chopped parsley and, of course, the botarga. We were pretty skeptical about the results, thinking it would be too fishy, but all three of us really enjoyed the flavors with a nice glass of Soave. Success–mission accomplished.
Here I am cooking the pasta:
and here is fabulous sous chef, Sandi:
After Sandi left, I was doing the dishes and a pipe broke under the sink. We had our own little “Acqua Alta” with water covering the whole dining room floor. It really was no big deal. I called Sabrina and she quickly sent someone over to fix it. We had to wash a bunch of towels but no big deal.
After the clean up, Ken and I went to Mille Vini, and got a few bottles to have in the house. Lorenzo was so nice to us!
In the evening I went to meet Sandi and two other Slow Travelers at the La Calcina, for dinner. I really enjoyed the risotto with seafood and peas and Sandi and I shared Orata (sea bream?) with tomatoes. Not usually a fan of tomato sauce with fish, this was surprisingly enjoyable. We all drank a bottle of Lugana with the meal The fishermen are on strike so they had their boats all lined up honking their horns continually. It got a little annoying. I took the Vap home from Accademia to Rialto and then ended up staying up late with Ken, talking and looking at oil spill stuff on the internet.


The Quest — 7 Comments

  1. Jan, I’m enjoying reading about Venice through your eyes, and of course, your photos. Sounds like the best of times.

  2. WOW – you guys rock! What a fun adventure (well, except for the sink). I would have thought that the fish flavour would ahve been overpowering – good to hear that it was not.

  3. Isn’t it great when plans come together smoothly!
    Congrats on finding the Botarga and preparing your recipe – in Venice, of all places!

  4. Hi Jan, I am enjoying your blog posts from Venice! Sounds like you are having a wonderful time!!
    What an adventure to have the pipes burst. Does that mean you learned some new pipe vocabulary?

  5. I’ve become a Pomodori e Vino fanatic and suspect that I will now have to add
    your blog to my list.
    This slow travel thing has a lot going for it. Perhaps next summer….

  6. Hey Jan, enjoying your slow travel, my favorite way. Hi to Ken. Grassroots is nice, rainy, and 97F expected Tuesday. Enjoy.