LIDO SHUFFLE

Lido di Jesolo had just opened for the summer season. David and Domenico had a golf tournament on a Sunday … and we decided to go the day before, rather than get up at dawn and drive for several anxious hours of will-there-be-traffic-and-I-miss-my-tee-time. Antonella and I would tag along, and spend our time enjoying the seaside.

We all settled into our hotel rooms … and rendezvoused in the lobby with the same question on our minds, in our stomachs. Cosa facciamo per la cena? What are we doing for dinner? Domenico volunteered to drive … always a plus for David, the sole driver in our family. We headed south, past several places still closed this early in the year. One was open, all dark wood paneling … nah, it wasn’t coastal enough for us. A kilometer or so down the road was a white building with a blue sign … it looked like they would serve fish. The un-Trip Advisor method. Even better, it was across from the jetty … with a view across the lagoon. To Venice. At sunset.

It was opening night, with only a couple other tables occupied. In fact, the owner … once we were greeted and seated … settled in the back dining room with a group of friends, everyone sitting, talking, laughing around a coffee table with wine and antipasti, watching TV.

Our menu options were limited, so we all decided just to have one course. And wine. David picked a 2016 Lugana … lighter than one would expect at 12.5%, it tasted of green apples and pears, not too minerally.

In an unprecedented move, I did not order linguine con vongole. We all got monkfish with new potatoes. I like monkfish, but hadn’t eaten it in a long time …

(Wavy screen … flashback.)

The first time I had monkfish in a restaurant more than two decades ago, the experience didn’t go very well. As I often do … usually do … (always do) … I asked the waitress about the preparation, and she said the fish was sauteed in butter with a touch of vegetable stock to keep it moist. That sounded good, so I ordered it. But when it arrived and I took my first bite, I could tell it had been made with a heavy demi-glaze that masked the flavor of the fish. I called her over … and said I wasn’t happy, and wanted to return it. Well, the chef stormed out of the kitchen. No one ever returns my monkfish! But your waitress didn’t explain the preparation properly … if she had, I would never have ordered it. He just stood there. What do you want? Grilled salmon please. Beurre blanc on the side please.

(Wavy screen … back to the present.)

This monkfish was grilled, delicious, moist and flavorful. The potatoes were crispy on the outside, tender within.

And then we shared dessert. Two plates, four forks. I had heard about this dessert, of course, but was a semi-freddo virgin … and here it was quite the presentation … almond semi-freddo served with flaming meringue. It was cool, and chock-full of finely ground almonds that gave it a great, intense flavor. The texture was thicker, denser than gelato … more softening than melting … without being heavy or gummy. (I did some research afterwards, and the texture is a combination of whipped cream and Italian meringue … the meringue that is made by pouring boiling simple syrup into egg whites.) David ate the meringue when it had cooled …

Ristorante Oasi … Punta Sabbioni (VE).

The next day while the boys golfed, Antonella and I shuffled around Lido di Jesolo. Literally … she had had bunion surgery a few weeks earlier, just out of the walking boot, and wearing a pair of Converse All-Stars sneakers … size 40 on the operated foot, her regular size 38 on the other. She was looking for a sun hat … getting ready for the lazy, hazy days that were sure to follow. She did find a really pretty blouse … linen-y and light, white with blue trim. As lunch time approached, she asked if pizza was ok. Sure … so we began to look for a place. Then across the street, she saw a blackboard with the lunch menu. Paccheri with tuna and black olives, she read, let’s eat here. A dish with tuna … I’m in.

We sat near the back … with a view toward a painting of Naples on the wall of a small outside alcove. At that time, paccheri was a new-to-me pasta shape … and it was love at first bite. Paccheri are tubes, about 2 inches long and an inch in diameter, and when they cook, they collapse. And tuna meant that I had a treat to bring home that evening to the kitties. A subtle hint of spiciness in the tomato sauce and salty black olives, it was a great summer dish … and one easy to make at home. I’m still looking for whole wheat paccheri, but have made this classic and delicious tomato-olive combination to use on fish.

The menu had almond semifreddo. We exchanged a glance, and decided to indulge. Again. It didn’t come blazing or even blazing adjacent, but the cool, crunchy texture and rich flavor certainly tasted just as good on a warm afternoon as it did in the cool of the evening.

Pizzeria Bella Napoli … Lido di Jesolo (VE).

We continued to stroll around the quiet streets of the beach town, Antonella especially, shuffling more as the day continued. We headed back to the car, hatless. Clouds started to roll in, puffy white and flat gray, and it looked like it might rain, so we decided to drive to the golf course to have a drink with the guys on the 19th hole … celebratory or consiliatory … before driving to our respective homes. She was glad to put her foot up at the clubhouse, and a little pot of hot water and basket of teabags was the relaxing Rx she needed. For me, too.

(Rewrite the ending. Pink page.)

We continued to stroll around the quiet streets of the beach town, Antonella especially, shuffling more as the day continued. We calculated the time for the golf tournament and a celebratory/conciliatory drink with the foursome on the 19th hole. We wanted an easy walk back to the car when one or the other husband called. She never found a hat she liked, that day or later in the summer … she said they all seemed like they would make her head hotter. I understand … it doesn’t take much time for me to use my wide-brimmed hat as a fan, curls crunched and matted. Two blocks from the car, we ended our day sitting on a bench watching the waves and the listening to soothing sounds of the surf. [Fade to black.]

FISHERMAN’S BREAD

If you’ve been to Venice, you’ve seen these tempting little rolls in every bakery you pass. When you see how easy they are to make, you’ll want to recreate them at home.

1 oz. (2 Tbl.) butter, melted
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
⅓ cup sugar
1 cup raisins
½ cup candied orange peel, chopped (if you like citron, use ½ and ½)
1 oz. (2 Tbl.) pine nutsOrange rind from 1 orange
1 egg
¼ cup Marsala or white wine
¼ cup milk

- Preheat oven to 350° F (170° C). Line a cookie sheet with a silpat.
- In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients.
- In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix wet ingredients … then pour into dry. Blend to form stiff dough.
- Divide dough into two pieces. Shape into 6 x 4 inch rather flat ovals … or form into 4 smaller buns.
- Bake buns for 20–25 minutes … ovals for 30–35 minutes until lightly golden.
- Serve at any temperature.
Enjoy!

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