01:13 1 NOV 2015 Boston Massachusetts by GS Jade Barrett CsbNews correspondent
«It’s so easy for me to get caught up in the feeling of a city like Venice, where everything is just beautiful color and gorgeous buildings that are so peaceful. You can roam around and get lost in the labyrinth» – Nanette Lepore
Venice’s canals are romantic, but less so when the Piazza San Marco is one of them. One of the side trips we typically make is to The Florian, one of the great cafe’s of Italy. With classical pieces performed by truly excellent musicians, dining al fresco mid afternoon on a beautiful October day is a true treat. Having to buy Wellington’s in order to wade across the piazza did not add to the ambiance, however.
Dr Donna had correctly warned all of us that one gets their exercise in Venice (and we should listen to her more often), for aside from the water taxi’s it is only possible to travel by foot along the canals and narrow alleys that pass for walkways – an especially tight fit in some places for those of us of the extra large variety. Venice is an attractive stop for those who enjoy shopping, for there are many merchants of various commodities, and is well worth the visit for those of an acquiring nature.
It is a pleasure to visit the glass artists on the island of Murano – a 20 minute water taxi from the Piazza San Marco – their skill sculpting and blowing glass amazing to behold. My family were glass cutters and blowers in Southern New Jersey, so I have a special personal connection with the art. I take great enjoyment from the adventure of seeking out the independent artists while looking for the unique design or color, always on the watch for the next «big thing» in the field.
However long we spend on our daily outings, we seem to find ourselves enjoying a meal where the time flies by. We arrived in Al Fanal, one of the many restaurants that the indefatigable Paolo Clair loves – and with good reason. A fine kitchen, excellent service and seafood that simply cannot be beat for freshness and flavor. The generosity of the portions was impressive and we were challenged to keep our forks flying as course after course landed on our table with the same regularity as airplanes landing in Rome. We could not stop the tasting of these exceptional examples of Veneto’s cuisine and I am sure that they would have kept delivering them for days if we had not begged them to stop. Branzino (both chilled and hot), clams, mussels and tuna tartar were my favorites, but the sorbetto they served us will never fall from my memory.
It is almost a curse when someone serves you a perfect item, for you are compelled for the rest of your life to seek its equal, and upon each new testing find yourself saying to your dinner companions «this is excellent, but it is not Al Fanal’s».