28 September 2007

Settling in

I had thought I would do a much better job of keeping everyone up-to-date on my comings and goings here in Venice, but the truth is, I was having too much fun to sit down and write about it. So now I will provide a brief catch-up…

“Deana 2” turned out to be a bright, breezy, pretty little apartment, if all decorated in (yuk!) blue. I have really enjoyed the views – my inner court neighbors on one side and what you see above on the other, Piscina de Frezzaria.

I’ve had a great time shopping for my groceries and cooking in my little angolo cottura (efficiency kitchen). Thus far I have been able to turn out respectable spaghetti alla checca (spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce), penne alle noce e gorgonzola (penne with gorgonzola sauce and fresh walnuts), spaghetti con vongole (spaghetti with clams), involtini di melanzane (eggplant rolls stuffed with creamy cheeses), panzanella (tomato & stale bread salad), pappa di pomodoro (tomato & stale bread soup), insalata amalfiata (fennel, orange & olive salad), spiedini di pollo e di gamberi o di capesante (skewered, grilled chicken or shrimp or scallops), caponata (eggplant salad), polenta con funghi (cornmeal mush, grilled and served with sautéed mushrooms), verdure alla griglia (every kind of grilled vegetable you can imagine). Not bad for only having two electric burners and a bar fridge!

I also like the cheap and cheerful experience of visiting the wine vendors. True, we’re not talking any fine Barolos here, but you can get very good house wine for shockingly low prices – a liter for only slightly more than the price of a glass at any osteria. Plus you have the added pleasure of chatting with the vendor for a few moments as he fills up your plastic bottle.

Here is a list of things you need but don’t even think about having to buy when you move to Venice:
Laundry soap, dish soap, cleanser, floor cleaner, glass cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, sponges, scrubbers, dishcloths, a dish rack...
A knife – Dear Heaven, how I miss my Henckels!
A funnel – How else will you get the wine you buy from the wine vendor’s cask into a decent storage bottle?
A peppermill – It’s rare to find my favorite condiment being served anywhere here.
A nutcracker – I left only about six of them back at home.

Here is a list of things that are really great fun to buy when you move to Venice:
Hermetically-sealed bottles for storing the wines you buy from the wine vendor’s casks
A thermos for taking your coffee over to Accademia Bridge just after dawn, where you can watch the Grand Canal when it's being used by the regular working folks of the city
Incredibly clever, washable, sticky, stretchy plastic circles for sealing bowls in the fridge – like permanent plastic wrap
A chic little glass plate with three round dents for the “mostarde” you will serve with your cheeses when your guests come for dinner - and it only costs one euro!
Your first bag of freshly-roasted coffee – and all your coffee afterward, if your coffee vendor is as handsome and warm and charming as mine!

Here is a list of things that are surprisingly affordable in Venice:
Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes! – I have eaten more than 50 perfect tomatoes thus far.
Prosciutto – Soft, sweet, fresh, fragrant, delicious, and available everywhere for a pittance.
Parmigiano Reggiano – I keep thinking the chunks must be mismarked.
Really good quality sea salt – I bought roughly a pound in a very chic box for the equivalent of 15 cents.
Lovely real linen curtains – What a pity I will have only two windows in my new apartment, and they already have curtains!

Here is a list of things that are incredibly expensive in Venice:
Eggs - Here you get four for the price of a dozen in the U.S. Only for the Diamond Jim Bradys!
Shelled walnuts – Entirely beyond my budget. Unshelled ones are only slightly less costly, but they're super-fresh.

Here is a list of things you cannot buy for love nor money in Venice:
An ordinary, cheap glass vase – I guess the Murano folks have a lock on this whole area. Those of us on a budget must display our birthday flowers in our thermos.