It was a few weeks ago and it was a lifetime ago. Christmas, New Year, Epiphany (which here in Venice we celebrate with a visit from la befana, an old witch who travels on a broomstick and comes bearing sacks of coal). Somehow, already the new year doesn’t feel ‘new’ any more. It’s a little worn, more comfortable perhaps than when we first greeted it with plots, plans and lofty resolutions. Rather like a pair of shoes, that while all very nice and fancy when you take them out of the box – still wrapped in crinkly tissue paper, the leather stiff and sharply polished – somehow you enjoy them more once they’ve begun to mould to the shape of your foot. Twenty-sixteen, shall we say, has begun to mould to the shape of my foot. And I like how it’s looking. It feels like we’re old friends already. Twenty-fifteen a fond memory – and this year stretching out ahead is full of promise, ready to be filled with much cooking and eating and many new memories.
New Year’s Eve itself was chaotic. But in the very best kind of way. We spent the day wandering from bacaro to bacaro with friends, stopping off for cichetti, until we had eaten so much salame, baccalà and polpette that we could eat no more. Then we walked through the frosty streets to the Frari and the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, where the ceilings sparkle with gold leaf and I could sit for hours just gazing up at the frescoes above me. By the time we got home, it was late in the day. By the time we had warmed ourselves with hot ginger tea, later still. We had had grandiose plans for celebrations on the night itself involving dinner at an extravagant restaurant and waiters in white jackets, but in the end we settled for a cozy candlelit dinner at home, followed by fireworks in Piazza San Marco. [Read more…]