The hotel (really Bed and Breakfast) I stayed at in Venice offered me a complimentary breakfast with my room rate. It came with an interesting array of fette biscotti, jams, cheese, butter, bread and, of course, a cornetto. There was a choice of coffee, orange juice, tea or a cappuccino to drink as well. I was so excited at the prospect of having a gorgeous meal in my deliciously ornate room. I imagined that all the food would be fresh, the bread and brioche bought from a nearby pasticceria that was making all their pastries in house.
Instead of the homemade pasty that I wanted, I was served a depressing, flat and dull cornetti that had been recently ripped out of a plastic case of Mulino Bianco snack-cakes. It was interesting the first day. I ate enough of the brioche to know that it was filled with apricot preserves and tasted mediocre dipped into coffee, but good dipped into schiuma.
The second day, however, I just couldn’t take a bite. I decided to drink my cappuccino in the hotel and go outside to find breakfast. I was willing to eat standing up, crowded with rowdy tourists at a bar in order to avoid the depressing taste of packaged pastry.
I took the vaporetto to Pasticceria Tonolo in Dorsoduro, one of the oldest pasticcerias in Venice and packed with people on a cold Sunday morning. After pushing my way to the counter, I got the last plain cornetto (they called it a croissant!) and ate it wrapped in a napkin. Instead of rushing, rushing, rushing, I tried to eat as slowly as possible, observing the atmosphere and letting myself pretend to be a true venetian. It was more fun than I expected. Perhaps a brioche standing up is okay as long as you can go slow, slow, slow.
The brioche was classic Italian, sprinkled with sugar and not very buttery. Unlike other ones, however, the pastry itself wasn’t too sweet and had good layers. There were no strange tastes or odd textures. It was good, not great, but one that I would happily eat again. I imagine that it is particularly fantastic filled with chocolate.
Venice, you may not have given me two perfect cornetti, but you certainly did give me two very interesting pastry experiences to take with me on my journey through the world of cornettos and brioche. I’m looking forward to going back and trying a few more.
Packaged, standing, walking: how is your nightmare breakfast eaten or served?