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Trattoria Antiche Carampane in Venice

Trattoria Antiche Carampane - away from Venice's main artery

August 22nd, 2018 | Landgänge

Softshell Crabs were the recommendation of the very friendly waiter in the Trattoria Antiche Carampane, crabs who are changing their shells. I had read that these crabs, called Moeche in Venetian dialect, existed in Venice. It is rather rare that we have never tasted a special food. This was a first. And a successful one!

Trattoria Antiche Carampane - away from Venice's main artery

The Trattoria Antiche Carampane one does not find by chance, it says already on the homepage. It is away from the hustle and bustle and the huge tourist crowds. You have to know where you want to go. My dearest captain found it – again – due to a pilot’s recommendation. Together we spent the last shore leave there before my trip home in June.

Red light district and gourmet kitchen

Business card and bill adorn the logo of Antiche Carampane: A busty lady leaning out of a window. It is important to know that the Rampani family’s houses passed over to the Serenissima in the beginning of the 14th century due to a lack of heirs. Part of these buildings were located in San Cassiano, between the sestiere Santa Croce and San Polo. When almost 100 years later, public prostitution became a nuisance, they were handed over to the Rampani houses. Ca, Rampani means “closed houses”.

Thus, the term “carampane” became the synonym for prostitutes. Strict rules from whipping to flogging regulated the lives of prostitutes. And indeed, the ladies stood topless in the windows of the houses to attract customers. That explains why the bridge connecting Santa Croce to San Polo is called Ponte delle Tette – and it explains the Trattoria’s logo.

Soft shell crabs with neck and crop

The Trattoria Antiche Carampane is a nice restaurant. Even cutlery, table linen and high-quality glasses reveal that special emphasis is placed on tableware. Inside it is cozy, pictures on the walls testify to the 35-year history of the restaurant. Outside you sit just as pleasantly at equally nicely set tables. The alley is quiet enough not to be disturbed by passing passers-by. As a welcome, we get a small bag of brown paper filled with fried small prawns. A good start.

After a mixed appetizer plate and mussels we wait with anticipation for the crabs. As they stand with sweet potato chips, polenta cubes and herbs on the table, my dearest captain says: “Here we go. And how to eat them?” “With neck and crop, I would say, ” I reply and start directly, to eat the tasty little guys. The legs are pretty crispy, the body is juicy and very tasty. I taste sea. A delicious dining experience. I would order that again and again. Glorious.

The Antiche Carampane is certainly a bit more expensive, but they cook on a different level. The food has fine flavours and textures. The tomato broth of the mussels could act as a soup. The fish croquettes are refined spicy and everything tastes a bit more elegant and imaginative than we have seen in other Venetian restaurants. Chapeau!

Finally, a Sgroppino Artico (lemon-sorbet with vodka and prosecco), seasoned with nutmeg, pepper and lemon zest, is highly recommended. That’s the icing on the cake after these delights.

By the way, they seem to have a nice sense of humour in this Trattoria. At the entrance there are notes saying “No pizza, no lasagna, no single pasta…” and “Left to the train station, right to the Rialto bridge, all other information: Euro 2.50.” It must be exhausting to live in Venice, but also beautiful.

Small merchandise

Softshell crabs are crabs that are caught immediately after moulting. The crab’s shell does not grow, so the animals throw it off when it becomes “too small” for them. At this time, the crabs are quite soft. They are fried and consumed as a whole. The meat tastes finer in this condition than that of hard crabs. Softshell crabs are considered a delicacy worldwide.

Catching softshell crabs is very limited in time as the skin of the crabs immediately re-solidifies in the water. After just three hours it is already leathery and the crabs become so-called “Paper Crabs” or “Buckrams”. In Europe, Softshell Crabs can occasionally be found alive on markets during the summer. Otherwise, this delicacy will be frozen.

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