Darling, they hate what I’ve done,” the contessa confided to me at the new Venetian branch of her Enrica Rocca Cooking School, which is based in London. “My uncle calls it an aberrant species.” The school, housed inside the family palazzo, revealed bright red walls hung with African prints (Enrica once lived in Cape Town)—stunning, but you get her uncle’s point. On the morning I joined the two-day class, which takes no more than eight students, she told us up front: “I never have a recipe in mind before I go shopping.” That day, Enrica decided we would cook risotto con zucca e radicchio (pumpkin and radicchio risotto), followed by braised veal shanks and sautéed baby artichokes with oranges. Everyone paid strict attention as she started the rice. “It’s nothing to be afraid of,” she said. “You just need good stock and good Carnaroli.” On the following day, she introduced us to all the unfamiliar fish and shellfish from the lagoon as we made a seafood salad to go with a plate of cuttlefish in a sauce of its own ink, both of which showed off the Venetian gift for simplicity. (011-44-7762-167900; enricarocca.com; $300 for one day, $550 for two, including lunch)
What I Learned
To add stock to risotto only when no more liquid is visible.
That pinch of cinnamon in brasato all’Amarone leads all the way back to Byzantium.
Before You Go
Read John Ruskin’s The Stones of Venice.
Where to Stay
Pensione La Calcina (011-39-041-520- 64-66; lacalcina.com; from $150). Ruskin once stayed here; the nicest rooms overlook the Giudecca Canal.
Web-exclusive Linguine with Cockles