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venetian cuisine

harry's bar cookbook, venice italy

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Visiting this legendary bar in Venice, with an incredible view of the Grand Canal from its first floor, was made famous by Ernest Hemingway,  is a memorable experience.  

Ernest Hemingway used to have his own table in one corner of Harry's Bar. At the end of World War II, Hemingway dedicated to the bar a page of his famous novel "Across the River and into the Trees." The list of famous people who frequented Harry's Bar is long and includes Arturo Toscanini, Guglielmo Marconi, Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, Truman Capote,  Baron Philippe de Rothschild,  Aristotle Onassis, Barbara Hutton, Peggy Guggenheim, Woody Allen, and most of the latest stars in Hollywwod: it is a must stop in Venice.

Harry's Bar opened in 1931 when Giuseppe Cipriani, bartender at the Hotel Europa in Venice, was rewarded for his earlier generosity to a rich, young American from Boston named Harry Pickering. Pickering had been suddenly frequenting the hotel bar; when Giuseppe Cipriani asked him the reason why, Pickering explained to the bartender he had been cut off by his family because of his fondness for drinking, and moreover he was not able to pay his hotel and bar bills. Cipriani loaned his patron $5,000 U.S. so that Mr. Pickering could pay his bills aand his transportation home. Two years later, Pickering walked back into the Hotel Europa, ordered a drink at the bar, thanked Giuseppe Cipriani for the loan and handed him enough money to repay the loan and enable Cipriani to open his own bar.

The bar soon got famous for elder Cipriani's recipes, dishes which are still served today. Giuseppe invented the Bellini and the Montgomery cocktails. The Bellini, contains white peach pulp, juice and Prosecco (an Italian sparkling wine). Giuseppe is said to have invented it in 1948, and named it after the Renaissance painter Giovanni Bellini whose works were exhibited in Venice that year. The Montgomery instead, one of  Hemingway's favourites, is a very dry martini with a proportion of gin to vermouth of fifteen to one - the same proportion that the famed British General Bernard Montgomery was said to have endured when he lead his soldiers to fight against the enemy during World War II.

Other classics include: hot sandwiches; shrimp sandwiches (favorites of Orson Welles and Truman Capote); egg pasta with ham au gratin; risotto; and Carpaccio -- another original invention -- which is the most popular dish served at Harry's Bar. It is mande of paper-thin sheets of raw filet mignon, seasoned with a light white sauce. It is said that the Carpaccio was inspired by one of Cipriani's regular customers, the Countess Amalia Nani Mocenigo, whose doctor prohibited her from eating cooked meat. The dish was named after another fanmous Renaissance Venetian painter, Vittore Carpaccio, whol loved using bright red-and-white colors.

In 1991, Giuseppe's son, Arrigo Cipriani, wrote  "The Harry's Bar Cookbook", which includes more than 200 original recipes with color photographs, anecdotes and stories. Easy, well-written and useful, it is a living memory of the Harry's bar atmosphere.


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