Dreaming Of Christmas In Italy
As Italians begin to decorate for the winter festivities - from Venice to Palermo and every little village in between - the Vatican is preparing for its special Jubilee year in Rome, called the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, which starts on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 2015 and continues to November 20, 2016, the Feast of Christ the King.  
Whether you are strolling the Vatican admiring the first presepe, nativity scene of the season or stepping through the Jewish Ghetto celebrating Hanukkah, there is something for everyone in Italy during this time of year .
Vias and piazzas fill with signs of the season as artisans serve roasted chestnuts in brown paper cones, street musicians play Bianco Natale and Astro del Ciel on every corner and pasticcerie serve struffoli , panforte and panettone while merrymakers sip vino caldo, warm spiced wine, in cafés across the boot.
This month we round up Venice's most famous Christmas cakes and cookies - sharing our recipes for the holiday season - and help you select, sip and swirl Italy's finest Proseccos.
Wishing you a happy holiday table with family and friends,
  Table Talk
Venezia! Often called La Serenissima, Venice is a magical place where prisms of color reflect in meandering waterways and gondolas skim along narrow canals carrying you away. And like all Italian cities, it may steal your heart, with San Marco's Square, the Rialto Bridge, the Grand Canal, the Basilica of Saint Marco and even Harry's Bar, but finding your favorite bacaro, cozy wine bar that serves cicchetti, small plates of food accompanied by an ombra, glass of local wine, is a Venetian tradition you can't miss.       
The Mercatini di Natale , the artisan Christmas markets, are another tradition you just can't miss. They open in early December and run through mid January and are a must on everyone's Christmas list. Each artisan showcases Venetian crafts made by hand. The largest market of all takes place in San Stefano. It's a colorful scene of stalls filled with vendors selling hand-made Italian toys, leather goods, jewelry, Venetian paper, Burano lace and hand-embroidered linen, Murano glass, and of course, chocolate and coffee.
Winter walkways touched with a hint of chill conjure up a cup of hot cocoa and a slice of sweetness, leading us to dolce. Sweet Venetian biscotti fill bakeries and cafés throughout the city. Zaleti, butter cookies dating back to the 1800s, bussolai e essi burane, butter and sugar cookiesmade on the island of Murano, and baicoli, crisp cookies that were a favorite amongst the Merchants of Venice dating back to 1797, dipped in Sabayon, Cypriot wine or Muscat, and pan dei dogi, a butter cookie garnished with dried figs, honey and nuts are everywhere. Enjoyed on their own or dunked in cappuccino or tea, Venetian biscotti are a welcoming sign of the holidays.

What's Cooking
Join New York Times bestselling author, Elizabeth Berg, and Cooking Vacations for The Writer's Studio in Venice, Italy, from May 23 to 27, 2016
You are invited to spend a gorgeous week in Venice with Elizabeth Berg and learn about writing and the arts in our Writer's Studio.
The week includes a full-day writing workshop with Elizabeth, a hands-on cooking class, a visit to the Rialto market, a private boat tour to the island of Murano including a Venetian glass-making tour and demonstration class, dinner at our favorite trattoria, and a food lover's cicchetti tour - the wine and small tapas style aperitivo tasting through the most famous wine bars in Venice.
Elizabeth will also accompany our group throughout the week's activities which culminate in a bacaro, wine bar, for a giro d'ombra, a wine tasting in old world Venice. Elizabeth, as you know, loves the arts and she loves to cook.
Join Elizabeth Berg and Cooking Vacations as we celebrate the art of writing and the beauty of La Serenissima, Venice, in an inspirational week that will open your hearts and minds through winding waterways, blushing palazzos and a lagoon of 117 islands

Recipes From Our Kitchen
~ Venetian Cookies
~ Venetian Butter Cookies

Get the Recipe
Mascarpone Cream
Sipping & Swirling ~ Wine Picks

When In Venice Have A Bellini!
The Bellini was first created at Harry's Bar in Venice in 1948
by Giuseppe Cipriano.  It's the key ingredient is Prosecco 
Prosecco is made from white Prosecco, Glera grapes that are grown in the Valdobbiadene Conegliano region of Italy.   The area is located mid-way between Venice and the Alps, in the Northeastern part of Italy. The capital, Valdobbiadene, is set among castles, ancient churches and vineyards.   
Conegliano, in the heart of this Veneto wine region, is home to the oldest wine making school in Italy, and the Confraternita del Prosecco in San Pietro di Barbozza. There is Rolle, a picturesque wine hamlet, Molinetto della Croda, The Abbey of Follina, and the San Salvatore castle in Susegana nestled in front of the Alps.

Prosecco D.O.C. is produced in 9 provinces of Veneto and Friuli Venezua Giulia regions. Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. has two varieties, Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG, only made in Treviso and and the smaller Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG.

Prosecco Picks

Masottina Extra Dry, Rive di Ogliano, Conegliano- Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore 2010
Aromas of white blossom with hints of orange peel, melon and white chocolate. Very fine-textured palate. Good concentration and a long, sweet, floral finish with a return of peach and orange zest.

Perlage Animae, Brut Valdobbiadene
Closed nose at first with a crusty, barley sugar character and hints of mineral and citrus. Super-refined texture on the palate and concentrated yellow fruit. Full-bodied with a long, soft, dry finish. No sulphites.

Villa Sandi, Vigna la Rivetta Brut, Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze NV Complex fruit and floral nose with notes of peach. Very fine, well-integrated CO2, with great length and development on the palate. A soft-savory finish with hints of honey

With Love From Italy

  Legatoria Piazzesi 
San Marco 2511, Campiello della Feltrina

Europe's oldest paper store first opened in 1851. Located by the Santa Maria del Giglio vaporetto stop at Campiello della Feltrina 2511/c . Venture in for an artisan's experience of old world paper and more
On-line at:  www.legatoriapiazzesi.it

Cioccolateria VizioVirtù  
Castello, 5988
 An authentic Venetian chocolatier. If you love chocolate, then this institution is a must, with white, dark and milk chocolates laced with with fruit, salt and caramel, and ginger to name but a few.

Italy On A Plate

Flavors Of The Season
By Germaine Stafford

Germaine continues her roundup of what's happening in the culinary world in Italy and gives you her chef of the month, book recommendation, and a list of seasonal foods for December.
What's in Season?  
Oranges, Red Beets, Broccoli, Artichokes, Carrots, Chestnuts, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Chicory, Turnip Greens, Endive, Persimmon, Citrus Fruits, Pomegranates, Potatoes, Jerusalem Artichokes

Trattoria alla Madonna
A local hideaway where the locals dine just by the Rialto Market, Trattoria alla Madonna serves authentic Venetian cuisine and specializes in fish and seafood. The waitstaff, some who have been working there over 40 years, treat guests like family. Portions are fresh and large with a wine selection featuring wines from Veneto.
Trattoria alla Madonna 
Calle della Madonna
San Polo, 594

Take the Line 1 vaporetto boat. The closest stop is Rialto Mercato

Book Corner 
Venice: Recipes Lost and Found
An artistic cookbook on Venice filled with authentic recipes from by Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi.

These two foodies have veered off the tourist path to retrace lost recipes from San Marco to the old Jewish area. Learn about Venetian pasta, fresh fish, main courses and desserts as they set their way through Venice
Check it out at:  Amazon.com
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Lauren is always cooking & writing from her home in Positano, Italy,

while welcoming cooking guests from around the world.


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