With the any-day-now realease of our cookbook, it’s been hard to find the time to write about Venice–the food, the sights, the energy, the food…

We were actually staying in a small town just to the north on the famous Piave River, where we were being hosted by Italy’s premier sous vide company. So when we first rolled into Venice train, we immediately climbed the bridge over the Grand Canal and started following the signs ‘per Rialto’ (pictured above). Rialto is the famous bridge that leads back over the Grand Canal. The bridge itself is lined with shops that sell everything from exquisite Venetian glass to cheesy tourist trinkets. And the tourist are not is short supply on Rialto- every square inch of the rails are three people deep, with an endless stream of photos being snapped. (Yes I understand the irony of that statement coming from a tourist who made Rialto his first destination.)

The real attraction of the Rialto is not the picturesque bridge rising above the water. It’s those things that were in the water just hours ago. Just about 100 yards from the foot of the bridge is the Mercato di Rialto one the most famous seafood markets in the entire world. It’s an amazing sight and the freshest seafood I’ve ever seen when not standing on a boat, a mile from the coast in the Gulf of Mexico. A place where very particular grandmothers examine fish side-by-side with the city’s tops chefs picking out the best of the best. All the fish is local, of course, and a few of the slippery little suckers can’t be found anywhere else in the world like the Folpi (tiny octopus, below).

What about sardines, you ask? Yup!

True to the heart of Italian cuisine- all around Venice you’ll find plates of the local seafood simply prepared, shining examples of the virtues of freshness and locally sourced ingredients. We ate these everyday… and not always by choice. The grand seafood plate is clearly a source of local pride, something that people love to show off to visitors and something we really enjoyed- well, at least we enjoyed it the first three times we tried it!