Monday, 26 March 2012

The Cholesterol Rowing Regatta & Sardines with Onions

Glorious springtime Italian Style, has finally arrived in Venice, just in time for the first social regatta of the year.
La Regata Del Colestorolo (The Cholesterol Rowing Regatta) is held at the rowing club Canottieri Giudecca, on the island of Giudecca, and is the crazy invention of our friend Claudio who's nicknamed “Puffo” (which means smurf in Italian). It is a sporting event with a twist, as the diminutive and very wicked Puffo has decided not only should we engage in the customary eating and drinking AFTER the race has finished, but there should be a delightfully rich lunch, immediately BEFORE the race starts!!
the end of the razor clams
Knowing this, I have prepared the classic Venetian boatman's dishes of Sarde in Saor and Scampi in Saor (Sardines with Onions & Scampi with Onions) for appetizers. Our friend Massimo (the self proclaimed king of the barbeque) downs a glass of wine after putting the finishing touches to some freshly caught grilled cape lunghe (razor clams), served with lemon wedges. Also on offer, are pizzetta, omelette, a pasta dish, barbecued meats, free flowing wine (obligatory), followed by coffee and fiery home made grappa. Being the Cholesterol Rowing Regatta, fatty, artery blocking sausage and salame are used as liberally as possible, even the salad had chopped up grilled sausage in it!
carb loading before the event!

one for the road...
The last grappa is downed, 10 wooden rowing boats are lowered softly into the sea, followed by 20 overstuffed, oar wielding, athletes of all ages and both sexes. After three false starts, because Massimo, usually a very skilled gondolier, and rowing instructor, is not able to get his boat pointing in the right direction, the race commences. 
Almost immediately, the first collisions happen, threats and much swearing would be the norm if this was a real regatta, but in todays event, it's just smiles and jokes about the strength of the grappa. Eventually, the stretched bellied boatmen reach the half way stage, Dino with his partner Luca, take advantage of an entangled group of boats in front of them, and move from sixth place to fourth, and stay that way until they come puffing past the finish line. In Venetian rowing races, tradition dictates that only the first four positions are awarded prizes, so by coming in fourth, my weary limbed husband and his  partner  have won themselves a blue flag for their twenty-odd minutes of punishing paddling. The not so sweaty but definitely  thirsty, Massimo and his partner finally come in last, he's been telling jokes, and singing opera for the entire duration of the race, and claims victory, saying, in this type of regatta, last place is actually first. 
massimo heads for the bar

Go to the Sardines with Onion recipe

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