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Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy

As the overnight sleeper makes its final journey across the marshland north of Venice, I see early mist clearing to reveal the water, towers and architecture of Venice. A delicious anticipation unfurls and grows as I leave the train station and wander through the early morning, dew-dampened streets to St Mark's square.

Except for the occasional red-eyed Venetian baker, I could be alone. So it is with relief I see an old man in a white cotton shirt and braces, pull up his shutters to reveal a small café, painted light blue, open for business.

I ask him for coffee and a plate of breakfast pastries. As soon as the aroma of freshly ground cocoa and hazelnuts drifts towards me I feel my senses sharpen and come alive. I cannot resist pushing my finger into the centre of one of the small pastries he gives me and am thrilled to feel it is warm, just this minute from the oven.

As I relish the buttery, nutty pastries, the air in the café quickens and takes on more urgency. People are arriving now and a new, deeper smell is starting to radiate from the small kitchen. I test my nose. Garlic, that's easy, tomatoes, definitely, and something else - basil I decide.

I've heard of the Italian's love of Pomodoro sauce and it smells every bit as good as its reputation. There's richness I can't place for a second but then the penny drops: I can still smell the lingering hazelnut from my breakfast! The combination is irresistibly different. I think it could really work. In my notebook, I jot it down: Pomodoro and nuts? One to try at home!


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