Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Silent Rowing Parade & Vin Brulè

Hello, my honorary venetian, lagoon loving readers. Let me just say, after ten days of carnival festivities, I am finding it quite hard  to fasten shut my pants. I'm even struggling to fit into shoes, have they shrunk! Is that even possible? The exercise in excess that is Carnival finally comes to an end tonight, with the "Vogata del Silenzio". We're taking some friends out on our gondola, to participate in this "Silent Rowing Parade",  alongside a multitude of other types of venetian rowing crafts. 
We'll make our way up the Grand Canal, sweeping slowly beneath blacked-out "Palazzos" (Palaces) lit only by flickering candles. The noiseless procession comes to a standstill in the St Mark's basin, right in front of a wood and reed effigy of a Giant Bull, that will be set alight as the campanile (bell tower) strikes midnight. The towering timber "Toro" (bull), is a concession to our more humane, modern day sensibilities. Just think, centuries ago, real live bulls were beheaded in the St Mark's Square, people enjoyed a jolly game of wringing a gooses neck, or the Pre-Lent party favorite, head-butt the cat in a sack! This year, after the bulls' painless torching, hundreds of delicate paper lanterns are to be set free into the stoic black night, and the rowers say goodbye to Carnival for another year. 
toro inferno
Bearing in mind, that we'll be sitting alfresco in the gondola for a couple of hours, I think we're going to need some sort of hot, restoring beverage, to see us through the evening. I've asked my best friend Monica to bring round her family recipe for "Vin Brulè" (Burnt Wine). Northern Italy's version of Mulled Wine. There exist many variations on this warming winter Sangria, generally revolving around similar ingredients. The main difference being that with "Vin Brulè", you are supposed to burn off the alcohol by boiling the wine, and setting its fumes alight, hence, the name. Instead, with Mulled Wine you don't, you just let it simmer and let the flavours infuse, whilst retaining all or most of the alcohol. 

On this chilly night, I think we could benefit from the extra glow that the alcohol should give us (it's the last day of Carnival, after all)!! Its usefulness in preventing colds and its apparent curative effects gained by antibacterial and antiseptic properties, has been used by, flu fearing Monks since the middle ages. All in all, it seems to be the perfect remedy for our post Carnival, winter blues.

Go to the Vin Brulè Recipe

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