In honor of Carnevale di Venezia 2011:
A big part of every evening in Venice begins with an elaborate array of appetizer size portions served on small plates, like tapas or as the Venetians call it cicchetti (chi-KEH-tee).
This style of entertaining is such a pleasant way to enjoy an evening with family and friends. In place of the typical ‘big roast’ dinner party, it’s easy to put together a last minute ‘cicchetti’ menu which can be prepared ahead of serving. Many of the food items are probably available right in your own pantry or refrigerator. Serve buffet style.
Venetian Cicchetti Menu
- Deep-fried mozzarella cheese, Gorgonzola, calamari, artichoke hearts and anything that can be put on a toothpick.
- Crostini (little toasts) is also popular, as are marinated seafood, olives and prosciutto with melon.
- Meat and fish bites are ideal and with grapes, figs and fennel for a perfect mix.
- Bite size meatballs, hard boiled eggs with anchovies, fried vegetables
More traditional items can include; moscardini (tiny octopus) with polenta, soppressa and toasted bread with creamed cod, and sardines cooked and marinated with onions and vinegar, flavored with raisins and pine nuts.
Wine is the drink of choice. Serve your ‘house’ red or white wine (ombra rosso or ombra bianco) or a small beer (birrino). Pour traditional Venetian favorites such as a Spritz, a refreshing Venice cocktail of prosecco, (Italian sparkling wine) soda and Campari or Aperol bitters.
Wrap up the evening by serving sgroppino (lemon sorbet, prosecco with a splash of vodka) or a small glass of Grappa. Top with a typical Venetian sweet such as zaeti, a biscuit prepared with polenta flour and raisins or bussolai buranelli, butter biscuits made in a round shape that are wonderful when dunked in sweet Vin Santo.