With a passion for food and cheese, Otto’s Deli King, Harry Hempsall finds there is always something new and inspiring happening in the world of food. Each issue, Harry shares his knowledge on the best when it comes to gourmet delicatessan styling and eating.
The Best Food in Venice!
Arguably the most captivating city in the world, Venice exudes magic, romance and tradition.
So it would come as no surprise, that a city with enchantment at every turn should have some little-known culinary treasures, too.
Pronounced “chee-KET-eeh”, cicchetti are often described as Italy’s answer to Spanish Tapas – although this is probably a little broad (and you may do well to not make the comparison in front of a Venetian).
Yes, they are small plates of finger food (bar snacks if you will), and they are traditionally designed to be enjoyed with a glass of wine or a spritz.
But the difference between cicchetti and tapas is contextual, referring more to where you’re eating as to what you’re eating. That is, cicchetti specifically refers to the bites lining the counters of ‘bacari’ (the casual bars of Venice), where locals regularly stop in for small glasses of wine known as ‘ombra’, and single bites, which they generally consume while standing up and having a chat in the evening, or even at lunch time.
So; fried olives served at the table before your dinner, is antipasto. But if it’s offered alongside your drink in a bar – then we are talking cicchetti!
Cicchetti can vary from stuffed olives to meatballs, to small bruschetta, to fresh meat, fish, cheeses and so much more – they come together to essentially create a vast and varied platter of delicious bites to be enjoyed!
Those who were lucky enough to attend the Otto’s Parlour at last year’s Townsville Cup race day will know what I mean, with the luxury of having experienced Otto’s Continental Deli’s very own take on these tasty morsels. It was so amazing to look around the marquee to see our guests being wowed with a range of our very own handcrafted cicchetti which highlighted fresh strawberries, gorgeous Barossa Wagyu Beef, the most incredible Lachsschinken pork and a range of silky, flavourful spreads, condiments, breads and additional produce.
As you can see, cicchetti has the ability to demonstrate the variety and quality of food from the area, and regardless of the specific cicchetti you encounter, it should all be freshly prepared and created with local, seasonal products.
But cicchetti also make the perfect food for entertaining at home. Whether for pre-dinner nibbles or a full-blown party, you can bring a little taste of Italy to your kitchen at home and the best part is, we have every single ingredient you need to make it happen, here at Otto’s.
You can pop in and see myself and the team at the Continental Deli (the counter right alongside the Meat Market) and we would be more than happy to discuss your needs and help you choose the right ingredients to prepare your chichetti from scratch. Or, even better, if you would like us to do the hard work for you for your next party, function or event, with a little bit of notice we can design up a menu so you can wow your guests without lifting a finger.
For a Venetian, there aren’t many things more delightful than to take a break and spend some time with friends, meeting and chatting with whoever drops by, all while enjoying a delicious nibble and washing it down with a glass (or a few) of wine. In fact, it’s considered essential to vitality and wellbeing.
So make like the good people of Venice and turn your home into your very own ‘bacaro’ by putting on some cicchetti at your next function. Because let’s be honest: When it comes to food and wine, who doesn’t want to be just a little bit Italian?
Don’t forget the Ombra!
Venetians love to linger with their friends, chatting over cicchetti with a refreshing beverage (and in Italian culture, a good glass of wine is always consumed with something to eat as it helps to avoid getting a bit too tipsy unintentionally)!
The best and most typical drinks to pair with cicchetti are a glass of wine, or a Spritz.
When it comes to great wines to pair with cicchetti, you want to look for Veneto wines that are young and smooth. The light and sparkling Prosecco is a popular choice and likely to be one that you are already familiar with. If you like your reds, a nice choice is Raboso (a light red, peppery wine) and a traditional Merlot. If you are looking more on the white side of things, Pinot Grigio is the most common dry white found across Venice, but Ribolla is another great choice – it is light and delicious.
If you aren’t in the mood for wine, you can instead pair your cicchetti with a world famous Spritz – which incorporates Prosecco, sparkling water and an Italian aperitif of your choice. My favourite by far is Aperol, but Campari is another great option (it just depends on how bitter you might like your beverage to be).
Otto’s Delicatessen makes entertaining easy with an exceptional range of continental smallgoods, cheeses and antipasto mixes, sourced from the best Australian suppliers • In-house smoked meats, handmade dips and condiments • Experts in pairing complementary ingredients
• Gorgeous platters to suit your budget with professional styling
• Seasonal fruit and vegetables direct from our produce department
• Served with fresh baked breads from our Artisan Bakehaus
Otto’s Continental Deli | Otto’s Arcade, Illuka St, Currajong | 0457 778 678 | ottosmarket.com.au