Sunday, 30 August 2009

Molto bello il pesce

Europe has some amazing fish markets with the beast of Barcelona, the pristine of Paris and the lackluster of London just to name a few. I have been to many fish markets and countless fish shops, but for me the most outstanding and memorable was my visit to the market in Venice. As with all fish markets an early start is requisite so when i told the wife she would be rising at 5am on our holiday to go and see fish i wasn't flavour of the month.

So what was so amazing about the Venice fish market?

Firstly consider the logistics. As i waited patiently with camera in hand a procession of small delivery vessels chugged quietly up and down the Grand Canal heavily loaded with water, wine, fruit & veg and even newspapers and it wasn't long before the fish started to arrive - again all by boat.

The boats were laden with some of the most amazing seafood you are lightly to see. Huge tunas and swordfish. Many bags of delicious shellfish, mussels, clams, and razers, countless boxes of squid, langoustines and prawns. Every last item needed unloading by hand, as quickly as possible, so not to hold up the next boat.
The quality of the wet fish was consistent throughout the market with some amazing John Dory, Scorpion Fish and Dover Sole. Also a large variety of extremely fresh farmed fish were also available including Dorade and small halibut and turbot.

One of the biggest spectacles were the tables laden with squid, octopus and cuttlefish. I stood cringing as one man poured ink over his octopus and then mixed it in covering each one completely - what a mess it would make over our lovely white tiles!!

This market is a must see when visiting Venice and may i also suggest walking to the Piazza San Marco before the market as sitting in the worlds most stunning square, on your own, and witnessing the emptyness is quite a feeling.

Beautifully fresh dover sole albeit quite small. the average size of seafood in the Mediterranean seems to have suffered from overfishing. these dovers are 8-12oz compared to the size sold through our London shop that would average 14-20oz.

A pile of small whole farmed Atlantic halibut. the most impressive thing about these were just how fresh they were.

Beautiful octopus lying next to one of the markets anomalies - farmed rainbow trout!!

Huge piles of cephlapods covered in ink.

From left to right. Scorpion fish, john dory, whole monkfish and farmed turbot

An excellent stall on the way from the market walking towards the Rialto Bridge.

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