Venice’s Fish Market

I don’t need any excuses to reminisce about Venice. However, we had a terrible snow storm yesterday that for me, led to one of those white knuckle driving experiences. There were cars stranded on the roads in what was a pure ice storm. At one point, I wasn’t sure if I was shaking from cold, or the stress of being out at a dangerous time.

This morning, safe and sound as the world outside recovers, I fancy that I live in Venice where I don’t ever have to drive in dangerous conditions, because there are no cars. Where would I go, car-free this morning? The pescheria!

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Living in the middle of the U.S., I crave fresh seafood. So whenever I travel close to the sea, all I want to eat is fish and shellfish.

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With its place on the sea, Venice draws in fresh seafood every day for its restaurants and citizens to pick from. The variety of creatures for sale are amazing, leading to endless dishes!

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Always clean beds of ice; assured that your seafood is kept cool and fresh.

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I’m attracted to food displays where colorful fare is laid by type in heaps. The bounty and organized clutter looks like art to me! I always have to pull out my camera, whether tables of cheese or piles of shrimp.

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Those long crustaceans to the right are canocce, a kind of shrimp. They look like they have big black eyes, but those spots are actually at the end of their tails…maybe to frighten predators with?

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These are seppie (cuttlefish), which produce black ink to ward off predators when they are disturbed. In Venice, you can order spaghetti nero di seppie, which is pasta mixed with the ink of the cuttlefish. The pasta turns black, and though I haven’t tried it, it is said to make pasta whisper fresh flavors of the sea. Cuttlefish dishes are abundant in Venice; the animal is often stewed in its ink and served with pasta or risotto.

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Seafood heaven, what more can I say? I’d learn how to cook it all if I lived near a market like this.

What I especially love about seafood is how simple it is. When it is fresh, it doesn’t need a lot of fancy cooking and sauces. A little roast or steam, a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of green garnish; let me sit to that table for a while!

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Ah well, I’ve enjoyed this momentary respite from the weather by thinking of Venice’s fish market. But alas, I must now bundle up and see how much ice remains on my car.

A chapter of Venice is dedicated to this fascinating place, where the boats pull up from the Grand Canal to deliver such bounty. If you want to take a stroll through the market, but can’t get to Venice just now, I hope you’ll enjoy my storytelling as you amble through the market in my book.

And as for those of you in Venice just now, please share something special about the market in the comments! We’d all like to know your favorite part about this spectacular, cultural, Venetian jewel!

Steak & Seafood at Pete Miller’s

Every morning, I stand outside and assess the weather. The Weather Channel, what’s that? Not for me, I like to walk outside and figure it out for myself. I admit, not exactly the greatest tactic for preparing for how the weather may develop as the day progresses. This morning, as I stood looking at the cloudy sky and felt the cold air, I thought to myself, “Winter is coming”. Yes, I imagine myself as one of the characters in Game of Thrones sometimes. But winter is coming, and in northern Illinois, it can be brutal.

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There is only one way to face it, cozy restaurants with good food. Preferably, they’ll have a fireplace, and serve heavy dishes filled with tryptophan and other endorphin releasing chemicals. How else will you manage to survive?

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It isn’t winter yet, but we thought we should do a restaurant test run just to make sure we’re ready. On Friday night, we went to Pete Miller’s in Evanston. We found the ‘food coma’ inducing tryptophan levels in the rib eye steak and king crab legs to be most satisfactory. Ok, I jest…we didn’t even get sleepy from feasting like kings. But we sure as heck left feeling pretty good!

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To start, we enjoyed warm bread & butter, East Coast & Blue Point oysters with LaMarca Prosecco and a fruit & burrata salad. Oysters are served with different condiments everywhere we go. I liked the traditional lemon and cocktail sauce (which was very tasty) here at Pete Miller’s. Burrata is a creamy Italian cheese (a little like ricotta and buffalo mozzarella). For this salad, they served the cheese with merlot-poached pears & balsamic drizzle. Oh heavens! For our main course, handsome had the rib eye with garlic mashed potatoes and steamed spinach. I had the king crab legs with truffle parmesan fries and asparagus with hollandaise; served with two glasses of Uppercut Cabernet. Delicious! We were far too full for dessert (but I enjoyed leftovers the following day).

It isn’t food alone that makes for a great dining experience however. Our server Vasi was cheerful, informative with the menu and very timely, as were all the staff that kept our table tidy and our water glasses filled. We appreciate this restaurant’s excellent presentation of steak, seafood and impeccable service! To get through the winter blahs, reserve a table at Pete Miller’s if you’re near Chicago’s North Shore!