Thursday, November 14, 2013

Day 2: Venice: Falling in love over a cup of coffee and a bowl of risotto

Restaurants / Cafe visited:
  1. Caffe del Doge: cappuccino (5-star, amazing!)
  2. Caffe Florian: Caffe del Doge (Yep, the name of this coffee in Caffe Florian is the name of the caffe above. A bit confusing... Sorry. 3-star, great service and presentation. Coffee was just okay. $14 Euro for one cup of coffee. Crazy)
  3. Trattoria da Romano, Burano: Risotto "Romano" (5-star, best risotto I've ever had)
  4. All'Arco (4-star, Great cichetti. Almost all of them are presented bruchetta style. (bread with topping) Pretty good. The wine was really good.
  5. Osteria Al Diavolo L'Aquasanta (4-star, Squid ink spagetti was okay. A bit too salty. Grilled shrimp was delicious. Wine was great. Dessert was okay.)

Morning walk: Fall in love in Venice

My day started with a glorious morning as the sun broke through the fog and casted a golden canopy all over Venice. As I walked across Rialtor bridge, I couldn't believe what was in front of my eyes. Can any other city top Venice at this moment for its stunning beauty? It was so surreal. I felt like I was in front of a painting, a movie set. The above was the photo that I took on the bridge. Just as is. Breathtaking. I'm so glad that I woke up early in the morning for this.

One thing that I realized after all day navigating through countless back allies and bridges in Venice is that: GPS navigation doesn't work very well in this city. There are too many narrow streets (Some are so narrow that only one person can pass through at a time.) and it makes acquiring GPS signal impossible. Google map, which I used for navigation, just couldn't keep up with updating my location.

What does this mean? Use navigation/map as general directional pointers. Since you are for sure going to get lost all the time, don't plan a fixed and tight schedule in Venice. Keep it loose and very casual. Venice is such a beautiful city that it would be a shame if all you try to do is to rush through places. You will for sure have a frustrating experience because you will end up late for every place you want to go.

As I wondered through the city, getting lost, using my intuition to find places, greeting people with a smile, I gradually let go and started embracing the feeling of never knowing what comes up in front of me at the next turn. It was just like falling in love. Full of unknown and surprises. A little bit scared but yet excited for the thrill of it. Just like love, I said! Yes, just like that. I fell in love with Venice as I wondered through it. No expectation and just living in the moment. Wonder. I just wondered. Because this is the only way to fall in love. Now I understand why Venice is the most romantic city in the world. It is.


Caffe del Doge: Coffee of perfection.

And this leads to my first love affair with Venice: Caffe del Doge. I had a cup of cappuccino and as I took my first sip, I almost cried. It was THE perfect cup of coffee. Creamy and smooth. That was definitely love at first sip! It is on one of the side streets and Google map has it on the wrong spot. Just off the main shopping street. If you like coffee, you have to visit this place.

Caffe Florian: Oldest cafe in the world (Since 1720!!)

There are so many stories already online about the history of this place and how famous musicians and writers all spent their time here creating amazing works. I'll just focus on the coffee I ordered, which was just okay. It was the most expensive coffee I've ever paid for. 14 Euro for this cup of coffee, and it was not worth it. The service was great though. It was mainly because I wanted to check it off of my list and know that I've been to the oldest cafe in the world.

Trattoria da Romano, Burano: Best risotto that I've had.

Trattoria da Romano is on the island of Burano, and you have to take a boat ride from Venice for about 40 minutes to get there. Take Line 12. A round trip costs 14 Euro. There is a toilet facility on board. Burano is beautiful. Great photography opportunities there.

About risotto: I cook risotto of my own and I am super picky about my risotto. I keep ordering risotto when I go out to different restaurants, and have never really had a bowl of risotto that I found satisfying. So, when my friend, Yenyi, told me about this place, I was really skeptical. How can there be good risotto in Venice, where tourist traps are all over the place? Well, Yenyi was right! Trattoria da Romano served me a bowl of risotto that was the best that I've ever had. Seriously. So creamy and full of flavor and lots of depth. A truly amazing dish. Thanks, Yenyi! I also ordered their grilled white corn polenta and fried soft-shell crabs. That dish, while was really good, was no comparison to the risotto that they served. I have to figure out how to make risotto like that when I get home. LOL.


Burano short walk

I didn't have a lot of time on the island so I didn't take a lot of photos. The island is relatively small, but the houses are very colorful.


Campanile di San Marco: Panoramic view of Venice

After I got back to the main islands, I went back to the hotel and took a short break, then set out for a panoramic view of Venice on top of Campanile di San Marco at San Marco square. I got there a bit too late and the sun has already set. I still got some great panoramic shots with high ISO settings. Oh well, I guess this gives me one more reason to come back to Venice at a later time. :) (I wonder how much LG paid to be displayed right there at San Marco square.)

All'Arco: Great Cichetti and awesome wine

Time to eat again! All'Arco was closed when I got here yesterday. So I was happy to see it open when I went there today. Lots of local people standing around the bar area eating cichetti and having great conversation over wine. Too bad I don't understand Italian... The food was delicious. They had a truffle cheese one, so of course I had to order it! Also got a fried small fish. Pretty good! I got 3 cichetti and a glass of wine. Only cost me 6.5 Euro! Amazing.

Osteria Al Diavolo L'Aquasanta: Great food and service. Nice people there.

I had to have a sit-down meal before I leave Venice tomorrow. So, even though I just had some cichetti at All'Arco, I decided to come here for a proper sit-down meal. The service was really good, a sharp contrast to many other cichetti places, where people who don't speak Italian (like me) feel totally out of place and they just want you to get out of there ASAP. Here, the service was really warm and the waitress made jokes with me several times. LOL. Pretty authentic and good Venetian food.

I ordered the squid ink spaghetti and grilled shrimp. The spaghetti was pretty good, but the shrimp... Oh my God. So delicious! The meat is softer than regular shrimps and it is really really sweet. It tastes like something right in between a shrimp and a crab. A must-have if you come here. I ordered a glass of Soave per my friend, Jennifer's recommendation. It was awesome! Thanks, Jennifer!

I ordered the chocolate panna cotta for dessert. It was just okay. I'd try a different dessert when I come back next time.


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