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Culinary delights in Veneto

The cuisine of the Veneto region

The Veneto region has a lot to offer its visitors in terms of cuisine. Venetian cuisine is generally considered light and tasty, and it’s mainly based on rice and polenta. Polenta is served as a side dish with almost all meals. Unlike many other regions of Italy, Veneto is not known for heavy meat dishes. The wines of Veneto are also a delight to connoisseurs. Bardolino, Valpolicella and Prosecco are not only popular among Italians, but are well known throughout Europe and are widely consumed there too.

Rice & polenta: The basis of the Venetian cuisine

As a trading power in the eastern Mediterranean, Venice came in contact with many cultures and influences. Veneto was the first European region to use spices, rice, corn and many other fruits and vegetables. The marshes of the Po Valley were ideal for rice cultivation, so a large number of different rice dishes were created, which are still an integral part of Venetian cuisine. Rice with peas (risi e bisi), risotto with shrimp (risotto con scampi), tripe with rice (riso e trippa) and rice with black calamari sauce (risotto al neri di seppi) are just some of these numerous dishes.

A second integral part of the Venetian cuisine is polenta. The yellow corn cake is served with many Venetian dishes as a garnish. You should definitely try this typical Venetian dish: Veal liver with onions and roasted polenta (fegato alla veneziana). We can also recommend Pasta e fasoi, a thick noodle soup with red beans, Venetian guinea fowl (faraona), or around Lake Garda the popular Tortellini di zucca – pasta filled with sweet pumpkin mash.

Fish, vegetables and other food

Because Veneto is near the sea, fish has always played a key role in Venetian cuisine. Typical and very popular is Norwegian cod (stoccafisso or baccalà) which serves as basis for many dishes. Highly recommended for all fish lovers is the “Fritto misto” – fish, shrimp and squid, deep-fried in olive oil and served with polenta. You should also try the Venetian fish soup (brodetto).

Besides the well known radicchio salad from the Veneto region, the asparagus grown around Bibione is very popular. You can get a good impression of the region’s former trade power if you look at the spices Venetians use for their dishes – many of them seem to be very oriental. Visitors with a sweet tooth will discover some excellent desserts too. Because of the Habsburg occupation, Venetian desserts are primarily influenced by Austrian cuisine. You should definitely try the sweet pastry slices (sfoglie e frittole) and a Pan d’oro – a light vanilla-flavoured pastry made in Verona.

Veneto wine region

World-famous but often a surprise to visitors to the region are the Venetian wines. In the hills between Verona and Treviso grow some of the best wines of Italy. In the Valpolicella area, north of Verona, the famous Valpolicella wine grows and prospers. Excellent Valpolicella wines are the “Amore” and “Recioto” – they are not cheap, but both of these are definitely worth their price. On the east bank of Lake Garda, north of Verona, grows the Bardolino wine – a light red wine that is very popular with the tourists, especially in summer. The last two wines to mention are Soave, a mild white wine that grows between Verona and Vicenza, and the sparkling wine “Prosecco” from the Prosecco region near Treviso – one of the most famous sparkling wines in Europe.

Tips for wine lovers

In every major town you will find a typical wine bar (Enoteca or Osteria), where can taste all the wines of the region in a pleasant atmosphere. An absolute insider tip and a must is a tasting directly at the wineries. Small growers in particular are always happy about your visit and most offer private tastings. If you want to buy a wine, you should definitely pay attention to the quality mark or designation of origin (DOC and DOCG) to avoid buying low-quality bulk wine.

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Culinary specialities in Veneto
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