Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Best Pizza in Venice: Pizza Ae Oche, Santa Croce

Outside Pizza Ae Oche Venice, Italy
Inside Pizza Ae Oche Venice, Italy
Estiva Pizza at Pizza Ae Oche Venice
Mangiafuoco Pizza at Pizza Ae Oche Venice
I'm a foodie. I love all kinds of foods. But I take a lot of heat for showing so much favor to pizza and burgers. Guess the kid in me still exists. I think many lambaste me because they simply haven't searched out and enjoyed the same types of pizza and burgers I have. This is certainly true in England, where most foodies agree finding a great burger is like trying to find the golden ticket in a bar of chocolate. It simply doesn't happen very often. But I'm not English, I'm American. I was born in a country that worships and idolizes the burger. We've perfected it to an art that has now become a science. But this isn't a blog about burgers. So pray, let us move on.

If you've been to Pizzeria Trianon in Naples, as I have, you know what ultra-stupidly-brilliant pizza tastes like. And now you have another pizza joint to search out and find; Pizza Ae Oche in Santa Croce, Venice.

After four days of searching far and wide for Ae Oche we finally found it on our last day. With several hours to kill until our flight was leaving and an hour before our water bus (Alilaguna Blue Line) was set to depart we decided to give Ae Oche a try. This turned out not to be the best idea as lunch took quite a long time, apparently this is where all the local builders eat, and we had to literally run from Santa Croce to San Marco to catch the water bus.

Although my ribs ached with cramps and my wife nearly fell over from a combination of fullness and a stitch in her side, we do not regret eating at Ae Oche. It's a restaurant that normally would of been completely off my radar and had I seen it without knowing how special it was, thank you New York Times Travel Section, I would of just walked right past it. It screams chain-restaurant! And, as anyone who knows me can attest, I despise chain-restaurants. With the exception of Thomas Keller's growing Bouchon chain and Sullivan's Steakhouse, of course! My Mangiafuoco Pizza with Spicy Salami, Chili Peppers, Paprika, Tabasco Sauce and Rocket, which I added for an additional €1 was painfully delicious. As was my wife's Estiva Pizza with Rocket, Parmesan Cheese, Cherry-Tomatoes and her €1 addition of Onions.

Both pizzas were as good as anything we've ever eaten in a restaurant before. I still prefer our homemade pizza though. Which is basically just variations of this River Cottage recipe. Pizza Ae Oche is certainly worth risking getting lost for a few hours while you try to navigate the 117 islands and about 400 bridges that make up Venice. And it's relatively inexpensive, except for the bloody coperto that awaits you at every table in Italy... Grrrrrr!

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Hugh's Fish Fight: The Ethical, Responsible, Healthy Alternative to the Chippy

Waitrose Fish and Chips

Many of you have probably watched, or heard about Hugh's Fish Fight, the recent Channel 4 documentary in which food activist and wholesome, country-chef, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall shows us the devastation that our insatiable, unstoppable appetite for fish is taking on the world's oceans. I was stunned by the information Hugh discovered on his journey. For instance, half of all fish caught in the North Sea are discarded because of silly European laws, apparently trying to curb over-fishing by creating insane limits on certain fish. When a fishing boat reaches its limit for that species, they must discard them... DEAD!If they don't, they will be fined for going over their limit.

Hugh has made it easy for us foodies to find fish that is truly being sourced ethically and sustainably. With videos and apps it is now easier than ever to eat only those species which are not over-fished, or tossed overboard because of legal limits.

Like most people living in Britain, I love fish and chips. Perhaps no other dish defines the UK more than fish and chips. Yet our love of this quintessentially English dish is causing havoc in the seas. Unfortunately, we eat mostly only three species of fish and two of those are a constant offer at the chippies, Cod and Haddock. As a result, stocks are low, or at least they appear to be, leading to EU laws and regulations on haulage limits.

Rather than giving up on one of my most favorite dishes I have begun to research alternatives. And I've found one that is not only more ethically responsible, but healthier and cheaper as well. That is; Line Caught, Icelandic Breaded Cod Fillets, with Organic Oven Chips from Waitrose. Throw in a good handful of Organic Garden Peas and you have yourself a meal that according to Hugh's iPhone app is completely fine to eat, with less calories than a normal take-away and it's nearly all organic. As well as being delicious.

There are of course more choices available. Marks and Spencer has a sustainable Breaded Cod and Haddock, but it doesn't state on the box whether it's line caught, or not and they don't have organic chips. I have yet to try the other UK supermarkets, but will in due course.

Alternatively, you can go to your local fishmonger and get the fish from him, batter and fry it as well as cut and fry the potatoes yourself to make the chips. This is without question the better method, but this entry makes it easy for anyone to eat fish and chips ethically, regardless of cooking skills.

Unfortunately, this entry is only targeting those in the UK, but I'm sure with a little research you can find ethical, sustainably sourced fish and chips in your local area.

Let's all please get behind this. We only have ONE ocean. Let's protect it!

Please visit my professional photography website: Taylor Young Photography