Italians don’t only stand up for coffee. They stand up for cocktails too. And in Venice, when you meet a few friends for a cocktail after work, you’ll usually get some cichettito go with it. But these are no usual bar snacks scooped from a bucket behind the bar. Cichetti are small plate specialties to eat with your drink, sort of like the tapas of Venice. And they are absolutely delicious! Various vegetables in a tempura-like batter, croquettes and little arancini, quickly fried till crisp and finished with a sprinkle of salt and squeeze of lemon. You could easily make a meal of just them (a great budget idea, since they are usually free with the drinks), but they are often just the first stop in an evening of food and friends. One of my favorite cichetti is Mozzarella in Carozza, or mozzarella in a carriage. The carriage is white sandwich bread, battered quickly in and an egg and milk wash, then fried quickly in a thin film of olive oil. The result is a combination of grilled cheese sandwich and French toast, and the perfectaccompaniment to a cold glass of prosecco. Cin cin!
Mozzarella in Carozza
Serves two as an antipasto, or one for a great lunch atop an arugula and tomato salad.
2 slices thin white sandwich bread (like Pepperidge Farms – I use a slice of Trader Joe’s Texas toast cut in half, cross-wise)
1 to 2 slices mozzarella, cut ¼” thick
1-2 TBSP milk
Pinch of salt
Olive oil for pan
Cut the crusts off the bread. Place the mozzarella on one slice, making sure you leave about ¼” border around the edges (prevents premature oozing and a very messy pan.) Top with the second slice, then squish the edges together a little to make a seal – this is why white sandwich bread is great for this – its squishable.
Film a sauté pan with a little olive oil. Beat together the milk, egg and pinch of salt. When the oil is hot, dip the sandwich into the egg mixture, but don’t let it sit and absorb too much. Fry in pan until it is golden brown on one side, flip and repeat. Cut into quarters, and serve with a cold glass of prosecco! Calories: about 300 per sandwich.
This recipe is very adaptable to additions – I like to put an anchovy (the marinated white ones in vinegar) inside for a little salty-tangy bite, but you could put in a little sun-dried tomato in olive oil, or basil, or whatever you like. Just don’t load it up – the cheese is the star.