Friday, 17 February 2017

Sweet, Sweet Venice - Caffè Florian Delicacies - Book of Recipes

 "Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go." 
---Truman Capote

(Venice, Italy) The Caffè Florian, in the heart of Piazza San Marco, has been one of the most beloved venues in Venice for centuries by both Venetians and visitors alike. The oldest coffeehouse in all of Italy can also claim to be the oldest in all the world, depending on how one defines the term. It was established in 1720, and has been a cozy, delightful and crucial meeting point of civilized minds for nearly 300 years.

Marco Maccapani, Artistic Director of Venice Carnival, at Caffè Florian with Cristiano Strozzi (seated)
Yesterday, the Florian launched I Dolci Veneziai del Caffè Florian, a sweet little book in both English and Italian filled with classic Venetian dessert recipes by Cristiano Strozzi, the Executive Chef Pâtissier. But it's not only about recipes -- the desserts are accompanied by fascinating anecdotes about their origins, with gorgeous photos by Marco Tortato and clever text by Stefano Stipitivich. I had never had fried cream before, and it was yummy. Here is the intro:

Crema fritta (fried cream) is a typical dish in various Italian regions and can be served as either an appetizer or a dessert. The recipe goes back many a year. It coincided with the onset of winter when the Veneto country folk slaughtered the pig as the cold began to arrive. The lard was used to cook creams, frittelle and galani, so crema fritta was another typical sweet treat at Christmas and Carnival time; the Venetian Carnival began straight after Boxing Day, on 27 December.

In the Venetian custom, crema fritta was cooked at the last minute and eaten at the end of the meal, doused in raisin wine, a "vin foresto" (foreign wine), as they used to say in the Lagoon.

Hot chocolate and cookies - Divine!
One of the most divine things about Italy is that the hot chocolate is real, oozy and thick, with sensuality and substance. It is like drinking an aphrodisiac, which Casanova liked to use in his seductions. From I Dolci Veneziai del Caffè Florian:

...It was only in the 16th century that chocolate reached Europe: Hernàn Cortéz brought cocoa to Spain in the early 1500, but no other European country would experience the joys of chocolate until the 17th century. In 1615, Anne of Austria, the Infanta of Spain, married Louis XIII and thus brought the drink to France, from where it spread to Holland, Germany and England.

The Dutch soon became the main importers. In Europe's capital cities, chocolate was as fashionable as coffee: the early "coffee shops," especially in Venice and London, began to serve not only the "black beverage" but also chocolate in a cup.

...they say that Giacomo Casanova had his lovers drink it as an aphrodisiac in voluptuous quantities with added chili. Could it be true?

Caffè Florian during Carnival - Photo: Cat Bauer
The Caffè Florian is a landmark that exemplifies Venice in all its elegance, romance and intelligence. I'm not going to give away the actual recipes -- for that you will have to get the book. The Florian is a wonderful place in which to heighten your senses at any time of the year, but now, during Carnival, it is spectacular.

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat Bauer
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

1 comment:

  1. "Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go."
    ---Truman Capote