JEWELS FROM THE ROVING STOVE

From VIP entrances in Versace to service entrances in my apron

  • Julie Anne Rhodes

Peaches, Venice, & Bellini's

It had been a good 30 years since the last time I visited Harry’s Bar in Venice, yet the very thought of their Bellini’s, Carpaccio, and Taglietelle made my mouth water. Having lunch there was my only request as my parents made plans to take the entire family on a magnificent whirlwind tour this month of eight European cities to celebrate their upcoming 80th birthdays.

Julie Anne Friedman in Saint Mark’s Square 1983 taken by Nick Rhodes

Venice is where it all began, and walking through those doors was like coming home to one of my favorite restaurants in the world. Everything was exactly as I had remembered it ….

… superb service, scintillating food, picturesque view of Saint Mark’s bay waterfront, and that nectar of the God’s – my beloved Bellini (even if mine does have to be virgin these days – fresh peach juice, along with sense memories, still brings a gigantic smile to my lips).

Picturesque view of Saint Mark’s Bay

Giuseppe Cipriani started Harry’s Bar when a young American student, Harry Pickering, returned a loan he’d made to him with interest in 1931. Harry’s Bar is still going strong eighty-two years and four generations later with subsequent restaurants in New York, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Miami, Ibiza, Moscow, Abu Dhabi, Bodrum, Porto Cervo, Istanbul, and Monte Carlo; but it is the original restaurant close to Saint Marks Square in Venice that I will always long to visit.

Bellini, niece Jordan, and sister Patty at Harry’s Bar

It was here that Peggy Guggenheim would mingle with the likes of Georges Braque, Noel Coward, Charlie Chaplin, Somerset Maughan, Truman Capote, and Orson Welles. I can almost see their ghostly images laughing, boasting, and toasting away as Ernest Hemingway sat at his table in the corner mentioning Harry’s Bar repeatedly in his famous novels.

The Bellini is perfection in a glass!

Named after fifteenth century Venetian painter Giovanni Bellini, the Bellini was invented here at Harry’s Bar in the 1930’s. It is regarded as the best Champagne cocktail in the world, although it is classically made from one part white peach juice to three parts Prosecco (Italian sparkling wine), instead of Champagne. Having been one of my all time favorite drinks for decades, I’ve sampled many all over the world, and none taste quite as divine as at Harry’s Bar.

Still enjoying (virgin) Bellini’s at Harry’s bar in 2013

A common mistake many bartenders make is to add peach schnapps, or the sin of all sins – using yellowpeach juice. The juice for the Bellini must be made from fragrant white peaches, with a little sugar or simple syrup added, only if the juice is too tart. And if you wish to be completely accurate, the best way to juice the peach is by using a cheese grater and strainer to catch all of the juice, since using a food processor or juicer aerates it.

The not so accidental tourist in Saint Mark’s Square

Stay tuned for more of my not so accidental tourist’s exploration of Venice. The trip afforded me plenty of fodder for you as well as over 3500 photos taken to entertain you!

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