Carnevale..the feast that marks the 40 days filled with other Holidays approaching Easter.. Venice is one of the most famous cities in the world for its’ illustrious Carnevale..the colors, the costumes .the elegant balls…the food.
Venice, also made famous by the Victorian era duo—Gilbert & Sullivan for their operetta The Gondoliers..a comedy that takes place in Venice and is about the fictional King of Barataria. And through various mishaps a gondolier is mistakenly appointed to the Royal throne of this fictional comedy.
Venice also brings to mind other colorful characters who at one time or another used this unique city for their inspiration… Mozart, Shakespeare, Da Vinci, the Doges.
But alas Venice, Carnevale is not your possession, it is celebrated throughout Italy, with some cities like Via Reggio that organize grand productions and parades in honor of Carnevale. Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday marks the end of Carnevale in almost every city in Italy except Milan. That city has the tradition of celebrating till Saturday because of the legend of a St Ambrosius who was to return to the city on this particular Saturday,
I always pay a visit to the center of Rome after Valentine’s Day but before Easter to glance in the windows of some of Romes’ most elegant coffee bars to find the frappe (as they are called in Rome) displayed beautifully in their glass cases just waiting to be savored….here’s a recipe to try at home if you can’t get to Rome.. These are called chicchiare in other parts of Italy, chiacchiare means ‘to gossip’.
2 cups flour
½ cup sugar
¼ cup butter
powdered sugar for dusting
½ cup grappa
1 tsp vanilla
3 tblsps milk
3 tblsps unsalted butter, softened
Place flour on a wooden board. First beat eggs with milk with a fork. Make a well in the center of flour and place in the eggs and all other ingredients. Blend by hand , then place in mixing bowl or food processor till smooth dough is formed. Roll dough out to 1 inch thickness. Form chiacchiare by cutting with jagged edge cutter or knife or cookie cutter forms that are square in shape. Bake in preheated oven to 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar when cool.
For more great recipes and Holiday menus get your copy of the award winning book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions-2nd edition