The Venetian lagoon is home to one of Italy’s greatest restaurants. Our gourmand recalls a dazzling lunch on its terrace, and shares one of its classic pasta recipes
It was autumn in Venice. Pale mist hung over the canals in the early mornings before vaporising as the sun rose, and the city dressed up in its familiar, magical brocade of opulence and decay, like a raddled courtesan donning her finery for one last flourish. It should have been a time of melancholy, as my great adventure – spending six months pottering around the Italian islands on a Vespa – came quietly to an end in this, the most romantic and melancholy of all cities.
But it wasn’t remotely melancholic. I’d met my daughter, Lois, and my old Australian chum and former rugby compadre, Rory, beneath the lions in the Piazza San Marco, and gloom and despondency proved impossible in their humorous and diverting company. The day we met, we’d dashed off to a Venetian version of a crowded English pub to watch Australia trounce England in the Rugby World Cup, a victory that naturally had to be celebrated with numerous beers and several bottles of prosecco. That rather set the pace and the tone for the days that followed – high spirits, the rambling anecdotes of two old codgers, the amused tolerance of my daughter, food here and there, drink there and here, and a dash of culture in between.
Lunch had the air of sublimity about it, of being outside time, of languid perfection