Last weekend, I watched the Venice episode of Gourmet’s Adventures with Ruth, a series showing on my local PBS channel. It was a wonderful show, mainly about food but with some lovely scenes of Venice interspersed with the cooking class that Ruth Reichl and actress Dianne Wiest took with Venetian contessa Enrica Rocca.
The show opens with the bells of Venice, always a magical sound. There’s some nice footage of the Rialto market, and another scene where they go to eat chichetti and drink a Spritz. They also visit the incredible San Polo chocolate shop, VizioVirtù. The dishes they made included shrimp risotto and tiramisu. I was inspired to make the peperonata in saor (pan-fried bell peppers). Mine came out a bit soupier than the photo on the Gourmet website, but the flavor was fantastic.
The other episodes I’ve seen have been good too, especially the one about Morocco. I was a big Ruth Reichl fan even before watching these shows; I’ve read all of her books and really enjoyed them. She’s writing a series of “memoirs with recipes” (a genre I love), and her life is fascinating as she progresses from a hippie-style commune in Berkeley to restaurant critic for the New York Times and then editor of the now-defunct Gourmet magazine. Her story begins in Tender at the Bone, and then continues in Comfort Me with Apples, and Garlic and Sapphires (this one is about her time as the restaurant critic and it’s hilarious how she had to come up with all these personas and disguises to go out to eat in NYC incognito in order to review the restaurants).
Anyway, you can watch the Venice show online and find the recipes there too.