Tony Eklof, originally from New England, has settled in Clonakilty after a career as a librarian at University College Dublin. His knowledge and passion for wine has been inspired by frequent visits to the wine growing regions of the continent, particularly Italy and France.
Christmas in Venice would be wonderful. In the winter Venice takes on a mystical air and one can move around freely in this most beautiful of cities, which understandably gets very crowded in the summer.
Three tips if you are thinking of flying to Venice for the first time: do make sure to see Piazza San Marco or ‘la Piazza’, it is stunning, but always crowded, so to experience the real Venice you have to spend time in the other five sestieri or districts of Venice, including the wonderful Dorsoduro where the two main art museums are located.
Second tip is to brush up a little on the fascinating history of this unique place. Even a rudimentary knowledge of how Venice evolved into a major seaborne empire underpinned by untold riches from Byzantium will enhance your appreciation of the city.
Finally if you have any interest in Renaissance art, great masterpieces can be found in most of the hundreds of churches throughout the city, for example the iconic Santa Maria Della Salute, the last great landmark built during Venice’s golden period, houses masterpieces by Titian and Tintoretto.
I plan on spending Christmas this year as usual with my family in West Cork, however I am looking forward to having a backdrop of Venetian music, for when I discovered the Museo della Musica on our latest visit to the Veneto in November, I bought a CD, ‘Christmas in Venice’ featuring festive compositions from Venice’s leading baroque composers. The ‘Music Museum’ is just one of those many treasures one can discover wandering the narrow calli or fondamenta of Venice away from St Mark’s Square.
Incidentally I have a ‘Veneto Christmas Menu’ from the excellent Rizzardi winery on the shores of Lake Garda. It states that what the typical menu on the holiday consists of very much depends on what region of Italy you are in. In the Veneto the starter is typically Soppressa, cured meat made of pork and spices, followed by a warming broth, and then a roast with polenta, a corn based specialty of the region. The roast is traditionally marinated in the finest wine of the Veneto, Amarone, admittedly an expensive preparation but also an excuse to drink the rest of this powerful red when the roast is ready to serve!
Happy Christmas to all our readers, whether in Venice or home in West Cork.
While in Marco Polo Airport I picked up some of my favourite Veneto wines. If you are not planning on flying over to Venice soon after reading my article, here are some lovely wines from the area which you can source closer to home.
Sartori Valpolicella Ripasso, Super Valu, on special at €12
Cantina Valpantena Valpolicella. M & S – €11
Lovely young, fresh Valpolicella in the old style, from one of best regions of the Veneto. Valpantena is Greek for ‘Valley of the Gods’.
Cantina Valpantena Valpolicella Ripasso. M & S – €15. Same wine as above except it is oak aged and made in the Ripasso fashion and thus more full bodied and stronger.
Should you wish to try the marinated beef recipe, there are plenty of examples of the Veneto’s finest wine, Amarone, available locally. Don’t expect to pay less than €20 for the treat!