Thursday, June 8, 2006

You don’t need fava beans and chianti to enjoy fegato.

Okay. So who goes to Italy to eat liver and onions?

I know, I know, my odd tastes are nothing new. But for years I’d read (again, damn you, La Cucina Italiana, for getting me so obsessed) about the utter delicacy with which Venetians prepare calves’ liver. So one evening, I dined at a little trattoria in Venice with Sanni, Barbara, Beverly and John, with Blaine and Sandy at the next table. I ordered fegato alla Veneziana.

I made sure my dinner companions all got a taste. The verdict: very positive.

The liver was tender and mild, thanks to an overnight soak in milk. It was sliced thinly, the cipolle (onions) sautéed to just the right degree of caramelization, and the pan deglazed with a good white Veneto wine. Mine came with a side of Arborio rice, a perfect foil for the rich pan juices.

My dinner was made so much better by the fabulous company. We laughed and roared, and giggled when the suave, charming, devilish waiter Lucio decided to anoint us with new names: Barbara rose to canonization immediately as “Santa Barbara,” Sanni was “Sonia,” and John was “Don Giovanni!” I was dubbed Giulietta. (Beverly – I can’t, for the life of me, remember what he called you!)

As the plates were cleared away, I introduced the group to the joys of caffe corretto, or ”corrected coffee,” set right with a little splash of spirit. That night we chose Sambuca. And why waste an evening with a devilish waiter without introducing flames? So in broken Italian I asked for “sambuca la fiamma.” Float a few espresso beans in a shot of the sweet anise liqueur, then flame it. I had my saucer in hand, ready to snuff the flame, but we were having such an animated conversation about sambuca that I failed to actually put out the flame. Our glass broke – in a perfect straight line around the circumference of the glass. Italian crystal, man!! It even breaks with style.

Oh, sambuca la fiamma? A big hit with the group. Almost as much as Lucio.


Beverly said...

There was apparently no Italian equivalent for such a sophisticated, elegant, even regal name--he called me..."Beverly" with flair, and a slight roll of the rrrr. (I'm surprised you didn't remember, Gillian!)
You left out the part where Lucio's colleague attended to the perfectly broken glass by carefully and smartly lifting the top off and pouring the flaming liquid into another glass--no problemo. (...and no cowardly fear of glass shards in this group!) It was clever of Lucio to delegate that particular task!
Fortified and highly spirited, after hugs and kisses with Lucio, it was off to the next charming Venetian bar! (Thanks for a wonderful description of a memorable evening!) Beverly

Yakima_Gulag said...

you like liver too! I make the BEST liver, even children eat my liver and LIKE it!