Those who arrive in Caorle for the first time will shortly discover that they are not in an ordinary sea resort pivoting exclusively around its beach, but rather in a small charming and welcoming town, with its maritime traditions and its strong attachment to the surrounding agricultural territory. This all finds its best expression in the local cuisine, of which Caorle’s chefs exalt the great qualities by attentively preparing and presenting each dish.
The core ingredient for most dishes is fish, freshly delivered daily to the local fish market by a large fleet of small fishing boats. The nutritive value of some local fish and shellfish, such ascapesante (scallops), moscardini (small octopuses), and canestrelli (small scallops) is universally renown by chefs and nutritionists. As a matter of fact, a group of local restaurateurs have decided to create a mark of quality for these products, and to start gastronomical events to protect and promote some of Caorle’s most distinctive dishes. Some of these dishes are: thebroéto, a rich fish soup fishermen traditionally ate out in the sea, and the speo e bisato, eel on the rod which requires a very long preparation, and it used to be prepared in the casoni, the traditional fishermen’s thatched houses by the sea valleys. Other delicious dishes are: fried young fish, fried masenete (small green crabs), and grilled fish.
Many typical Venetian dishes are also part of Caorle cuisine, though often reinvented with local flavours: sarde in saor (fried sardines in sautéed onion), bigoi in salsa (thick long noodles with anchovies paste), spaghetti with pevarasse (a variety of clams), spaghetti a la busara (with prawns), pasta with zotoi (squids), crabs “tagliolini”, seafood risotto, “risotto al nero di sepia” (with squid ink), not to mention the seafood antipastos with granseola (spider-crab), sea truffles and canocie (mantis shrimps).
If you stop in Caorle in autumn or winter weekends, you may find yourself immersed in a little festival of flavours, with a multitude of gastronomic booths where you can taste some of these extraordinary recipes.
In addition to the variety of fish specialties, Caorle’s cuisine has benefited from the produce cultivated in the nearby territory. The particular microclimate of the area and the alluvial land facilitates the cultivation of vegetables (such as the white asparagus -typically prepared with eggs, or in risottos -, peas, peppers, zucchinis, eggplants, tomatoes, lettuce, radicchio) and fruits (Venetian pears, white peaches, and more recently, watermelon and cantaloupe). In 2001, a centre for promoting Caorle’s produce was created in the Azienda Agricola Chiggiato. The centre organizes events, meetings, food and wine tasting, and hosts a permanent exhibition of produce from Caorle’s and Slovenia’s (neighbouring country) territories as part of an international exchange project.
A short bike ride on the new cycle tracks takes you to the largest farm of the area, the Azienda Agricola Ca’ Corniani, with its fields of corn, soy, wheat, its eel-breeding centre and vast vineyards. These wines can be tasted in the old cellars that have been recently restored. Only a few kilometres from Caorle numerous organic farms sell their vegetable and animal products, mainly hams and sausages. Family run farms still slaughter pigs at the beginning of the winter according to the ancient tradition, and prepare the delicious salamis of the region, such as thesoppressa, the ossocollo (pig’s shoulder), the musetti (boiled pork sausages), the figadei (liver sausages).
We certainly can not overlook the local production of delicious wines, which each restaurateur would knowledgeably pair with your meal.
Caorle is situated in a strategic area for wine production: a few kilometres west is the D.O.C. zone of Basso Piave, where several small wine-producers companies produce wines of great quality of the following grapes: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Raboso, Pinot noir and Pinot grigio, Merlot, Tocai, Verduzzo and Chardonnay. Close to the Basso Piave area, is located the D.O.C. area of Lison–Pramaggiore, also known as the “la strada dei vini dei Dogi” (the Doges’ wine route), as Venetian families used to make their wines in this area. Here, wine producers signs still bear the Saint Mark Lion, symbol of the Venice Republic. The typical grapes of the territory are, in addition to the ones already mentioned for the Basso Piave, the Malbech, the “Refosco dal peduncolo rosso”, the “Verduzzo dolce”.
The territory around Caorle is also well-known for its dairy products, still prepared according to traditional recipes, in three artisan dairy farms: the “Caseificio” in Porto Santa Margherita, the “Latteria” in Annone Veneto and the “Latteria sociale” in Summaga. In Summaga, the local soft cheese Summaghella is exclusively produced. Other local cheeses are: “Latteria”, soft or aged; “pincion”, sharp and aromatic, and the “formaggio ubriaco”, or the so called drunk cheese, because farmers used to preserve it immersed in must and marc of raboso, cabernet and merlot, thus giving the rind a dark purple colour.