==B Venice, Day 7: Lessons from a Professional Chef ==
Three of us spent the day in the kitchen of professional chef Marika Seguso, absorbing her best tips for cooking the local fish of Venice. We took a waterbus to the end of a bus line to reach Lido, the suburban-like island of Lido, with real streets filled with traffic from cars, bicycles and Vespas. After 6 days on a water-based island, it was strange to see the land vehicles. After a short walk to her home, and a brief wait in her bountiful garden while she shopped for our meal at the local farmer's market, we ascended to her 3rd floor kitchen which practically took our breaths away.
It was large, sunny, modern and equipped witrh every possible cooking appliance and utensil. We serve essentially as sous chefs to her to learn how to clean, cut and cook fresh calamari, baby shrimp (a local seafood delicacy). The seafood (seasoned with fresh herbs from her garden) turned into a simmering sauce which was the foundation for a risotto which was cooked to perfection. We also helped to create a foam-based dessert that was so light it almost floated away.
After hours of cutting, dicing, sauteeing, simmering, our collective labors of love evolved into a delightful 3-course meal, served with glasses of chilled Persecco (Italian sparkling wine) under an shady umbrella in her lovely garden. The final results were delicious but no surprise considering that Marika operates catering kitchens in Paris, Milan, Venice and New York City and has catered for clients such as American Airlines, Dolce e Gabbana, Ferragamo and Giorgio Armani. We got to take the complete recipes home but I learned so much that day, much more than the recipes, about the ART of cooking. At the end of the day, we were all smiles. It was well worth the trip and the cost.
==B Venice, Day 8: Coming to the end of a Dream Vacation==
All in all, the Venice trip was my best one yet. It featured everything I love: great food, great wine, travel on water, friendly locals, a compelling walking history, wonderful shops! Cooking with local seafood and produce, freshly-made pasta, cheeses and olives, and the accessibility of good wines made the adventure even more exciting. Yes, cleaning up the small kitchens after those gourmet meals for 12 (see photo) was a little challenging but we got better at that also.
==I According to the Around Dublin blog:== "BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse recently received a key approval from the Dublin Planning Commission to move forward with building its 8,376-square-foot freestanding restaurant at the southeast corner of the Fallon Gateway shopping center in Dublin, CA. Aiming to open for business by early 2012, BJ's will benefit from having great visibility to drivers along I-580 and Fallon Road."