Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Freezing Venice & Risotto with Radicchio, Prosecco and Baby Lagoon Prawns

What a difference twelve months make. To think that this time last year, Dino and I were enjoying the Sydney sunshine, whilst watching the pasty English cricket team, (unfortunately) bash the bronzed Australians. Nothing could stand more in stark contrast, to what we're going through here, this winter. 
freezing venetian lagoon
Currently, Venice is shivering through a severe cold snap, one of the worst anyone I've talked to can remember. Parts of the lagoon have become salty sheets of ice, and the canals of the city have been transformed into an emerald green granita! Still, it's not as bad as the bitter winter of 1929, when people could actually walk from Venice to the mainland over the frozen lagoon!!

Our friend, Margaretha Breil braved arctic temperatures to photograph these gelid scenes not witnessed for many, many decades.
icy gondolas

 None the less, I decide to face the frost and ice and make my way to the Rialto markets, to see what's on offer. I find crates full of radiant, red, radicchio. There are many different types: Radicchio di Treviso (thin, pointy leaves), Radicchio Precoce (wider leaves, pointy, shaped like a rugby ball), Radicchio di Chioggia (looks like a round iceberg lettuce, and has a round head), Variegato and Radicchio Rosa.
You can prepare this versatile vegetable in many many ways: in a salad, sautéed in butter, roasted on the grill, baked with besciamella, in a with pasta and pancetta and chili... the list goes on.
Radicchio, like most of the produce at the markets, is seasonal, making its first appears in November and remaining throughout the winter. The crunchy leaves are especially at their tastiest after frosts, so this is DEFINITELY the right time to buy some. 

I've also picked up some very naughty baby prawns, they are sold live, so live in fact, that I can feel them bouncing around in the bag attempting to make their escape! An ideal winter comfort food, for me has always been carbohydrates, carbohydrates, and more carbohydrates, so tonight I'm going to serve up a heart warming Risotto with Radicchio and (jumping!) Lagoon Prawns. I have a sneaky suspicion that most of the dead fox fur wearing old ladies, who are attempting to push in front of me, have a similar idea.

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