Dash of Prosecco
learning to cook and writing about it + how to make infused vinegar the Venetian way
Hi! This is the first instalment of Dash of Prosecco, where you'll find a bit of housekeeping first, including what to expect from this publication, and the Venetian method to infuse vinegar as found in an old book written in the local dialect. Enjoy and thank you for being here.
Dash of Prosecco
My dearest friends, let me introduce you to Dash of Prosecco - a playful newsletter about food, identity & life on the mainland of Venice.
Besides being evidence of a clear love for fine prosecco, this newsletter is about learning to cook and writing about it.
As simple as that.
What to expect?
Dash of Prosecco is where I share my hunger for good food and an urge to belong. For the peace that chopping and stirring give me, and the warmth filling my heart when I look at that burnt pie I just made with my own hands.
These are monthly (give or take) emails presenting you with the very best of:
1. Baking Mischiefs
I just got a long-awaited oven and I can finally play around with it. Expect lots of recipe testing and faffing... I've been collecting baking inspiration for ages so I'll be sharing it all with you here, finally.
2. Weekend Cooking
Let's be honest, after a long day at work, the only thing I may whip up is my bed (that's been waiting undone since the morning). Nonetheless, on my daily 15-min train ride commute, I scour the internet for happiness-inducing dishes to try during the weekend. Sometimes I make them, other times, I just sleep in.
3. Forgotten Venetian recipes
I literally stole an old Venetian cookbook from my in-laws'. On the yellow pages, there are recipes that read like a Venetian gondolier on a hunt for customers... they're all written in the typically dry and fun local dialect, and, since there's no Italian or English translation available to date, I'll be translating them for you. You're very welcome.
4. Food for thought
Cookbooks, podcasts, reading lists... all the food-related inspiration I come across during a week or month and which I'm glad I can share with you.
A bit of housekeeping
If you originally subscribed for the self-care, slow living, and creativity content, don't worry, there will still be some of that woven in here, too. After all, it's all thanks to slow living that I discovered my love for food.
I moved all existing subscribers to this newsletter, but don't worry you can unsubscribe by scrolling down any of my future emails and find the usual "unsubscribe" link. No hard feelings.
Substack: a new platform for writers & readers
For Dash of Prosecco, I decided to test an interesting platform, Substack. Digital whisperers say it's made for writers, putting the focus back on content and fostering "dialogue" between authors and readers.
In layman terms, Substack gets rid of the middleman, the evil algorithm that decides on your behalf what you should be reading/seeing/watching. When you subscribe to a newsletter you'll simply receive it, no one is going to hide it from you!
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No algorithm: You get what you subscribe for, without filters and, in my case for free (but you can donate here).
An old book, Venetian dialect and infused vinegar for salads
Have you heard about that book? My aunt used to have a copy somewhere… Do they even sell it on Amazon? Apparently, it’s very hard to find…
Now, think of a mythological creature. Everyone talks about it but only a few have actually ever seen it, right? That's this cookbook, A Tola Co I Nostri Veci we're talking about. Everyone tells me it's amazing but not many own it. Anyway, I got mine from the in-laws, stole it when they weren't looking.
The title literally translates into "At the table with our old ones" and contains hundreds of traditional Venetian recipes from the 'ol days. Now, as soon as I picked it up, I noticed two things about the book:
The language - A Tola Co I Nostri Veci is written in the Venetian dialect, rather than Italian, with fun expressions and notes that truly make you giggle or scratch your head as you read.
The origins - Popular recipes of cucina povera (poor man’s food) sit next to dishes from the archives of noble or rich families that have ruled and influenced the history of Venice, its maritime reign, and, of course, its mainland. ILOVEIT
As one can imagine, the book is heavily oriented towards fish-based recipes. Nonetheless, I find that there's an almost equally large section on "vegetables, cheese and eggs" and another one on sweets and desserts, from which I'll be testing recipes, starting today with how to make a flavourful infused vinegar for salads (which is also a fantastic substitute for balsamic).
Vinegar is at the heart of several Venetian dishes (think saor, for example) and it’s also widely used as a simple dressing for white bean cannellini salads, alongside olive oil, salt, and pepper, and sometimes it's even added on top of halved boiled eggs as an accompaniment to a glass of wine in the late morning or afternoon (what we call cicchetto).
Testing out this old-fashioned infused vinegar seemed like a good way to ease into the world of forgotten Venetian flavours. Original text + translated ingredients and method below.
Infused vinegar for salads
Original title: Axeo aromatico par salate - from A Tola Co I Nostri Veci La Cucina Veneziana by Mariù Salvatori De Zuliani
Pareciar un misioto pestà fin de: fogie de basilico, 2 segolete, 1 spigo de agio, 5-6 grani de pevare e qualche ciodo de garofolo. Butar ste robe in t'una botilia da un litro, impinendola, dopo, de bon axeo. Lassar chieto par un mese, po passar el liquido traverso na tela fina (butando via le verdure e el resto). Volendo, se podaria zontarghe anca salvia e osmarin.
good quality wine vinegar, 1Lt
garlic clove, 1
A few whole cloves
Optional: sage and rosemary (fresh leaves?)
1lt glass bottle or jar
Chop and pound finely all the ingredients. Add the mixture into a clean 1lt bottle and fill with the vinegar. Let it rest for one month then filter the liquid with a cheesecloth. Keep only the vinegar and discard the herbs, spices, and vegetables. If you want, you could also add sage and rosemary.
Container: I’m using a 1lt glass jar that used to hold several yellow peaches in syrup. Its wide “mouth” makes it easier to scoop in the chopped onions and herbs, but, because these are a lot, I can only fit in 700ml of vinegar (500ml of expensive one + 200ml of cheap one).
Ingredients: Because the recipe calls for “good quality” vinegar, I actually went out and spent 4 euros (!) on a 500ml bougie pinot grigio vinegar that, apparently, taste like peaches! As for the aromatic herbs and veggies, I used fresh garlic because it was still in season, and I utilized a whole small yellow onion and a bit more than half of a larger one. I didn't want to pick too many basil leaves from my baby basil plant so probably you could go heavier on that (I only added 3 tiny leaves). Sage-wise, I used 5 small leaves, then 5 black peppercorns, and plenty of cloves (maybe 12).
Storing: I store the jar in my fridge for a month as it’s too hot in July/August and I’m afraid it may go bad. The recipe doesn't provide any instruction about where I should be keeping the jar during the infusion process!
As expected, the vinegar is really strong and acidic, although it smells divine, mostly of cloves and onion. I am dividing the strained vinegar into two 700ml glass bottles, to which I add regular cheap white wine vinegar that has a milder and less acidic taste. The result is really nice, fruity & oniony.
I've been using this vinegar, which I named "the magic vinegar", almost every time I make a salad, and as a substitute to balsamic for roasted carrots, for example. I wasn't sure I was going to like it, but now I don’t think I’ll ever want to live without it. It takes any salad to a whole another level - but beware if you don’t like onion this might not be for you.
Thank you, Olivia (see comments on the original newsletter) for suggesting storing the vinegar outside the fridge as a way to sweeten up the onions. I’m not sure about the hot Italian summer months, but I’ll do a test now that Autumn is upon us.