Tuesday, June 23, 2009

At Last!...It's Time for Bellinis

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There are bars that have invented famous cocktails. There are restaurants that have invented famous dishes. There are very few places that have done both. Harry's Bar in Venice, opened by Giuseppe Cipriani in 1931 right on the St Mark's bay waterfront, is one of them. The drink is the Bellini, a mixture of white peach juice and sparkling Prosecco, named after the fifteenth-century Venetian painter Giovanni Bellini. The dish is Carpaccio of beef, a plate of trimmed sirloin sliced wafer thin and dressed with a Jackson Pollock spray of mayonnaise mixed with lemon juice, which was invented for an Italian contessa who was on a diet free of cooked meat. It too was named after an Italian painter, Vittore Carpaccio, who was famous for his love of deep reds. I am not fond of Carpaccio, or anything raw for that matter, so when I go to Harry's, actually when I went to Harry's, I usually ordered the cannelloni or their Scampi alla Amatriciana.

I have been to Harry's bar on more than a few occasions, sometimes with friends and once by myself. I'll have to confess that it is one of the few places in the world where a woman can go alone and not feel strange or self conscious. The trick is to have your hotel concierge call and reserve the table for you, particularly if you are staying at the Gritti Palace or the Danielli. Years later, I found out an interesting policy of the restaurant's:

On the subject of getting a table, Arrigo Cipriani says 'My father always said that you should first seat the people who are by themselves because they have no one to talk to.'

You may be alone but, at Harry's Bar, the potential for people watching will more than make up for it!

As to the Bellini, if you want one just like the ones they serve at Harry's Bar, follow these directions:

1/3 part white peach puree
2/3 parts Prosecco

Make sure to pour the white peach nectar into the glass first.

If the peaches are not sweet enough, you can add a little sugar syrup to the peach puree.

A true Bellini is made with the nectar of white peaches and Italian sparkling wine, or Prosecco. White peaches, particularly the ones from California which are the best, are now arriving at supermarkets nationwide. Don't substitute the white peaches with yellow, particularly now that white peaches are in season.

White Peach Puree

You can easily peel the peaches by dropping them in hot boiling water for about a minute. Remove and peel immediately. Drop the pulp into a fine sieve and push down with a mortar to extract the juice. Freeze in individual containers and take out about a 1/2 hour before mixing.

Harry' Bar prices have always been outrageous... I can't imagine what they must be like now. A couple of years ago, a Bellini was 15 Euros, almost US$ 20 now! There is nothing like a Bellini drunk at Harry's Bar, but believe me, in the right atmosphere, they can be almost as good and you won't need to mortgage the house to order a couple!

I like to serve Bellinis before lunch, especially when the menu consists of risotto or any other Italian dish for lunch. They also go well with brunch and with cold salads. Very seldom will I serve a Bellini before dinner, unless it's terribly hot and we are having dinner outside.


  1. I just wanted to say that you have a very informative and interesting blog. I found you through the Foodie Blogroll and I will be back to check it out :)

  2. Many thanks for your kind words..do come back better yet, please subscribe (its free!) and send us some friends!

  3. I, too, am new to your blog and I love it!

  4. I was goggling and found your post...thank you for the suggestion of a Bellini for an upcoming ladies luncheon I have, I like it much better than a boring Mimosa! Thank you!

  5. Welcome back !
    Yay ! Something to look forward to


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