Dining in Venice, Paleoista Style

What are the options above and beyond looking for gluten free pasta?

Any time I travel, whether to a not too distant race up the coast, a vacation in Mexico or spending the holidays with family across the pond, the first thing I do is determine what type of exercise I’ll be able to do, and where.

Running, primarily as, aside from the occasions where I’m actually going to be racing, it’s simply the easiest thing to do almost anywhere. No gear required (well, shoes, I suppose), and any weather can suit a good run, making it the most straightforward of activities, along with walking to do anywhere in the world.

Next, but certainly no less important is figuring out where and what I’ll be able to eat. This is extremely simply in some places, and incredibly difficult in others, but regardless, given the fact that we all need to eat, it’s indirectly something that’s got to be sorted out in some way, shape or form.

Which is precisely why on my current trip (coming to you from Venice), I began my query with a simple Google search for Paleo dining in Italy, just to humor myself, if for no other reason.

Since I’m racing Sunday in Kaprun, Austria, so training was actually on the mellow side, given I was tapering for the event.

What popped up first?

Not surprisingly, a few sites with links to such places as gluten-free pizza places, gluten-free pasta offerings on menus and the Italian Celiac Foundation.

While I think it’s fantastic that gluten free now has this type of recognition which was nonexistent as little as a decade ago, it’s still missing the boat to a degree to think that gluten-free pizza embodies what Paleo really is.

So, with time on my hands, I took it upon myself to explore and see what I could come up with, the use of the word Paleo taking a back seat to the actual cuisine.

Incidentally, this very approach has organically become more intuitive for me of late. What with all the permutations of Paleo these days, some of which are nearly there and others, so far off, I find myself far more inclined to simply talk about eating real, fresh food, listening to how your body responds to it and adjusting accordingly, versus coming on strong, full Paleo ahead.

Not to say I no longer believe in it, which I whole heartedly do; rather, I’ve begun to feel dispassionate about the word as sadly, it’s been so exploited from what it could’ve been.

At any rate, if we reposition the fact that we’re just looking to eat local cuisine when we travel, and we still want to focus on fresh, with in season veggies and whatever type of proteins the area we happen to be traveling in has to offer, it becomes far simpler to fit the bill.

And in Venice, where food options are plenty, it proved to be a non-issue at all.

To think that one cannot enjoy Italian food if they happen to follow a Paleo (shhh….) approach and therefore cannot eat pasta is no different from folks in LA, surrounded with fast food Mexican joints who think that’s all there is to offer South of the border.

As if!

How about all the local roasted veggies? The sardines? The olive oil, so rich and decadent I wanted to drink it on its own?

And the wine?

Oh, yes, it’s a time to partake. When in Rome…err, Venice, after all!

Among the particular places I encountered, on my first few days are:

A little hole in the wall in San Marco, Rosticceria, offered exactly what I was craving after a 16 hour fasted flight: veggies, local fish and a healthy dose of olive oil and my word, was it delicious. Their casual salad bar, if you will, offered several grilled vegetable options, perfectly steamed spinach and escarole and more than enough grilled fish options to choose from that sadly, I only had room to try a couple! The sardines won out by a long shot and the taste of everything together hit the culinary mark on the head so well, I thought I was dreaming.

Many hours later, my husband and I wandered around the tiny streets and canals and happened upon Osteria Oliva Nera in a practically hidden courtyard.   Quaint and Romantic, the owner took it upon herself to make sure that we, along with the other guests dining had their each and every last need met.
            We chose their signature house wine, hand selected from their cellar, which was a meaty amarone blend, not too heavy, not too sweet but with just the right body and mouth feel to go with our meal.   We shared a light local fish Carpaccio (turbot), a simple, yet incredibly flavorful salad to start, then followed up with an entrée of venison in a balsamic reduction (which I choose to envelop in more oil) and a grilled sea bass atop local mushrooms and grilled peppers and eggplant.

Not that I ever a doubt to begin with, but dining in Venice Paleoista Style is proving to be nothing but easy…and decadent!

Just goes to show that with an open mind, a little creativity and just a hint of wanderlust, you can eat well, enjoy the local culture and not have to worry about feeling ill after eating!

Don’t worry about nixing the word Paleo from the vocab now and then… we know what it is, even though others don’t and often, it just confuses people.   Ask, however, for vegetables and fish or meat and olive oil, and please no breading, for example, and it’s short and simple.

Mangia y salute!