Sunday, 3 August 2014

Ted gets Venetian blinds


The other day I was wandering around town and my tummy started rumbling – “how unusual for you Ted” ... I hear you all say … kindly naturally. I found myself in the Smithfield, Clerkenwell way, home to a still functioning commercial meat market, which is surrounded by restaurant paradise. The venerable St John Bar & Restaurant pioneered the first settlements here many years ago, when it was the domain of the now fast disappearing greasy spoon cafĂ©.  Credited with starting the resurgence in British food, Fergus Henderson took a simple “nose to tail” eating philosophy and inspired many others. But I can’t tell you about St John, as when I turned up with the Doll and two friends of the gourmet persuasion visiting from Paris who shall remain nameless (Trevor and Patti) we discovered that I had err umm booked for completely the wrong day, week, month, and almost year.

I was reminded of this embarrassment the other day in Smithfield as I made my way to Polpo for lunch and spotted the St John sign out of the corner of my eye. I shut my eyes and quickly walked in, seated myself at the bar, and promptly decided that I needed something to help me forget that night of self-inflicted gourmet shame and disappointment. A Gin and Campari "Old Fashioned" cocktail started me off nicely.  I know that Old Fashioned cocktails are usually made from Whisky or Rye, but this one made no excuses for purloining the name, and acquitted itself nicely.

Polpo is a take on a Venetian Bacaro – a restaurant serving simple food and local wines. The Doll and I found one when we were in Venice once. We had a great time and ate very well for a reasonable amount of money. I can’t tell you where it was, nor could I find it again, because we were lost .. oh sorry I mean we were on an “unscheduled adventure”. I spilt olive oil on my clothing and the owner whipped out with a spray can that looked really dangerous, about a hundred years old, and sprayed it on me - to my relief it soon turned into a white powder and brushed away taking the stains with it.  I haven't been able to find any of that since either.

Polpo lived up to its Venetian ambitions nicely.  I had a little Pizzette with chopped green olives, white anchovy, and basil. It was tasty, cheesy, light, puffy, and crunchy, all at the same time.

Then mackerel tartare with cucumber and horseradish that would please any mackerel  lover. I finished with the grilled lamb and caponata.  The caponata took me back to Italy with the sweetness of the tomatoes, smoky aubergines, and fresh basil that all just melts in your mouth.

Polpo will likely stay above water longer than Venice if, sadly, it continues to sink at its current rate. Like New York, it is one of those places that you should see at least once in your life.  Just don't ask me where it is ...

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I need some of that stain remover and that Pizzette looks like a lunar landscape - did you take that picture Ted?

William Kendall said...

An unscheduled adventure! That's a very good term for it that I'll have to remember!

Lowell said...

It's always good to acquit oneself with a proper alcoholic drink, so kudos to you. I'm not sure about the spray stuff and perhaps you need a course in memory retention?

Just kidding. Very interesting post even I only understood about 1/2 of it! :)

Thanks for your comment today on Florida Fotos!

Sharon Anck said...

Ahhh....you have given me fond memories of Venice. Now all I need is some pistachio gelato and a lovely ride in a vaporetto with a light rain falling.

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