I love Venice and was so happy to hear that our cruise would begin in this beautiful and romantic city. Patrick and I made plans to arrive a day early so that we could adjust our body clocks a bit and also enjoy some leisure time. A glass (bottle actually) of prosecco and some seafood by the canal on a lovely sunny afternoon was a great start.

We had arranged to visit with our incredible friend, Contessa Enrica Rocca who lives and works just down the street from where we were staying in the Dorsoduro neighborhood. She asked us to come on over for a drink while she and her fabulous assistant, Marloes, were busy with one of their cooking class/dinner events. Before we knew it, we realized that we had stayed for hours, talking, drinking, learning and eating the fantastic meal that was prepared by the group.

The next day, our crew arrived. Unfortunately, without their luggage. Thankfully they had their camera equipment in carry-on as we began shooting on our first day. Enrica made all the arrangements for filming for us and after a pleasant lunch with the crew we joined her in our hired boat and headed off to our first location, The Londra Palace Hotel, to get the best Bellini in all of Venice. It was rather fantastic, made with the ripest white peaches and bartender, Marco’s special recipe.

Next was the first of my cicchetti (cicheti/cichetti) experiences. These are small snacks (like Spanish tapas) that are generally served in “bacaras” or “osterias.” It’s bar food on a grander scale and Enrica took me to one of her favorites, La Cantina. I then had my first “spritz”, a refreshing drink made with prosecco or white wine, Aperol and a splash of soda. This was better than any wine spritzer I’ve ever had.  On our way out we popped into Trattoria di Bepi for more cicchetti and treats from Chef Loris. The food was so delicious (the spider crab is a must try if you’re in town).

Later that evening, we were treated to an exceptional meal at the Michelin-starred restaurant, Da Fiore. There was an impeccable seafood served as the appetizer, followed by risotto seasoned with delicate yet fiery peppers from Southeast Asia, and paired beautifully with a dry white Soave Italian wine.  As if we needed more we are served the main, a rich duck dish served with a compote, and accompanied by (what else) a delicious Valpolicella wine that cut through that heaviness perfectly.  It was impossible to finish it all. Chef Mara and her husband were lovely and I was given their fantastic cookbook as a gift.

The next day Enrica took me to a place where she buys the majority of her food, the well-known Rialto Market.  She explained that it’s the market of choice for all the best chefs and restaurants in Venice (we bumped into Chef Loris from Trattoria di Bepi and the chef from All’ Arco, a fabulous bacari we would visit later, while we were there).  We went to Casa di Parmigiana for cheese, her favorite vegetable stall and the best fishmonger. Chef Loris pointed out all the special fish of the area including the spider crab that I had so enjoyed at his place the day before.

Just down the road from the market, All’ Arco is possibly the best bacara in Venice since the family run place uses only the freshest possible ingredients. Enrica and I enjoyed some of their chiccetti along with a nice “spritz.”  To finish my stay in Venice before heading off on the ship, we went back to Enrica’s cucina where she showed me how to prepare chiccetti and I helped make a few for the crew.

Grazie Enrica and Marloes for really showing us “all the best” of Venice!


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