Riviera del Brenta Food & Wine
If you choose to enjoy a day on a boat traveling along the Brenta Canals, you will undoubtedly want to partake in a leisurely lunch. The nobility of Venice enjoyed entertaining their guests with a special meal of Baccala and Polenta, which were a delicacy at the time and the preferred dish to serve on Fridays, when meat was forbidden for religious reasons. Still today, Baccala has become famous as a favorite dish in Venice.
Baccala, is a dried, salted codfish. It is slow-cooked in many variations but the most popular is to include milk, celery and potatoes, although some Venetians prefer Baccala alla Livornese, which includes tomatoes, garlic, parsley and basil. Another variation is Baccala Mantecato, which is a simple yet elegant mix of extra virgin olive oil, garlic and parsley. Regardless of your favorite preparation, you are not getting the complete Venetian experience until you try Baccala.
Accompanying any Baccala dish is Polenta. Originally, the word “polenta” is a derivation of crushed grain, which is exactly what it was, in the form of crushed barley. It was not until the 16th Century that cornmeal was substituted, giving Polenta the taste we enjoy today.
Polenta is one of the staples served, not only with Baccala, but also typically mixed with rice and peas, or fegato alla veneziana, which is calf’s liver fried with onions. Polenta also goes with any shellfish or eel. Basically, it is a staple fit for any meal.
If you are looking for a typical Venetian tapas dish or appetizer, look no further than Sarde in Saor, or sweet and Sour Sardines. Traditionally, this dish was made by fisherman as a means of preserving fish for many days. During the Renaissance, it became a delicacy, as people began to add pine nuts and raisins to it in order to bring a sweet taste to their breath after eating. Add this sweet, sour, salty and succulent dish to your Baccala and Polenta and you have a complete meal fit for Nobility!
Of course, no Nobleman would dine without the accompaniment of a great wine. Valpolicella and Bardolino are well-known from the district of Verona, where you can select a red or rose to have with your meal. If you prefer a white, try a Soave, which has a strong enough palette to accompany your fish luncheon.