Bringing A Little of Italy Home

Matthew and I have been leading our Arts Sojourn group to Italy for almost twenty years. He is the impeccable planner. I am the foodie. He takes copious notes on the logistics of our travel and I take notes on how I can replicate the foods we have enjoyed. We usually spend part of the long flight home planning a post Italy dinner party for some of our friends.

Our 2015 location in Venice gave me the chance to sample many of its unique culinary traditions. One of those traditions, cicchetti, like the gondola, is found only in Venice. It can be compared to the “small plates” trend found everywhere these days. Part of the fun is wandering the bars, the Venetian bacari, to sample the various treats of the day.

My challenge was, could I bring a little of  Venice home to my kitchen?

Our Pennsylvania Cicchetti bar.

Our Pennsylvania Cicchetti bar!


Our good friend Pat is a Sicilian by birth and a master bread baker. He brought some very welcome contributions.


A bit of an insalata bruschetta – mostly my own concoction.


Polpettini di manzo with polenta con fungi – In other words meatballs and little toasts of mushrooms and cornmeal. Always sounds better in Italian!


Baccala mantecato – Very Venetian pureed salt cod.


Sarde in saor – A sweet and sour sardine dish, also very typical.


Le Capesante crudo – Fresh scallops marinated with pomegranates.IMG_1187

Gratinata di muscoli – mussels baked with cheese and breadcrumbs. It looks like we rounded things out with prosciutto e melone as well, hiding behind the scallops.

It’s so much fun visiting Italy and then sharing little bits of it with our American friends.

Matthew Daub is a professional artist and university professor with works in major public and private collections throughout the United States and Europe. He has been leading plein air painting workshops in Italy since 1994. In 1999, Matthew and his wife Barbara formed Arts Sojourn as “a vacation for artists and their friends.” The program is designed to appeal to artists of all levels as well as non-artists who enjoy the company of creative people in a slow travel format.

Slow Travel Tours is an affiliation of small-group tour operators who offer personalized trips in Italy, France and other European countries.


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