Please join me as I share my kitchen adventures and stumbles – simple food inspired by childhood memories, seasonal produce, esteemed chefs & cooks and my own travels. I also feature restaurants, delis and markets in South Africa and out, and all the fabulous things in between! I’m a cook and food and travel writer indulging in an intense love-affair with food, and the fabulous!
The muscled gondoliers, balmy May temperatures and stunningly rebuilt Opera House aside, I was in Venice for four nights, and I was there to cook, learn and eat. A good enough ranking of priorities, I hope you will agree.
Escorting us around the Rialto Market, was the incredibly funny and very colourful Enrica Rocca, a Venice native who spends her time between the sinking city and London. Now, before I booked her day long sojourn, I had a look at her youtube video.
Naturally in this day and age, it’s almost a prerequisite to google stalk and check out any one – friends, potential employees, lovers. And what a little surprise I got when I did. This is Enrica:
So, armed with that knowledge that there are two things in life that should never be compromised on: food and, uhm, sex and that life is too short for bad of either, we headed off to meet Enrica for coffee and a tour of the Rialto Market and surrounds.
Thereafter, trolley heaving with fresh produce, we set off to Enrica’s modern loft apartment, along with Lisa a British journalist and three Canadians. Enrica’s kitchen was constructed to sit around a large counter, cook and relax and we all got stuck in.
My husband eased himself into the crowd of cooking enthusiasts by shelling beans and cleaning artichokes.
The monk fish head went into a pot and the stock for the cuttlefish risotto we were going to make, got off to a happy simmer.
First up, we enjoyed some deep fried zucchini blossoms, coated in a feather light beer batter. We prepped, cooked and ate as we went along.
Next a variety of small fish- one resembling a short snake, oddly enough, was given the same treatment and enjoyed as we took little breaks between chopping or cleaning.
I cleaned and stuffed baby squid with a mixture of parsley, tomatoes, garlic, some breadcrumbs, pine nuts and raisins. This was cooked in a pan with tomatoes, chilli, lemon peel, capers and white wine till very tender.
Our fish roe was blitzed with garlic and seasonings to make a lovely pate with a delightfully popping texture.
I’d like to add that it was a sweltering day and between sips of wine, we glugged down iced water- tap water being perfectly fine for consumption.
A handsome sea bream was stuffed and baked with thickly sliced potatoes, mini tomatoes and black olives. In 30 odd minutes, it was baked to perfection.
I manned the risotto pot (my very first risotto I’m both shy and proud to admit) and pretty soon (read: after much stirring and stirring) we had bowls of rich, not quite jet-black (this little cuttlefish let us down in the ink department), silky risotto.
We also enjoyed pea and artichoke dishes (a bit on the overcooked side, but who’s complaining).
A few weeks later, I received an email with some of the recipes as well as other’s from Enrica’s repertoire.
For details on Enrica Rocca’s classes, dates and prices, please visit her web site. It was a fun and very educational day.
Enrica lived in Cape Town for 11 years
cindy muller on 20 July 2011
Thank you for sharing your memories and pictures – it brought back a flood of memories for me. I went to Enrica’s first cookery class in Panorama and I had some of the best fun with her cooking and drinking very early in the morning! She is a fabulous host and a really good cook – I still use some of her recipes today.
Wow Ishay, such a lovely post. That is one mighty fish! Looking at the pictures, with so many ingredients – it must have been a dish full of beautiful flavours. You need to remake that sometime… hint hint
[...] privilege of cooking with Reza Mahammed, UK restaurateur and celebrity chef in Franschhoek, Madame Enrica Rocca in Venice and Chef Candido in Barcelona and in Jenny Morris’s Cook’s Playground – [...]
[...] me to the Mediterranean and remind me of travels to Italy and Spain. Most notably, the salty, deeply flavoured cuttlefish risotto I made in Venice under the expert guidance of Enrica Rocca, similar versions of which are easily [...]