I will go to Harry’s Bar on Venice’s Calle Vallaresso, near the Piazza San Marco and order a glass of champagne and Croque Monsieur . . .
This is our version of the traditional French toasted cheese sandwich. At Harry’s Bar we fry the sandwiches in olive oil.
1/2 pound Swiss cheese at room temperature
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard or 1 teaspoon prepared Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
cream , if needed, to thin cheese mixture
12 thin slices of homemade-style unsweetened white bread, crusts removed
1/4 pound smoke boiled ham, sliced
olive oil for frying
Put the cheese, egg yolk, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and cayenne in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until smooth. Taste and season with salt. If the mixture is too thick to spread easily, thin it with a little cream.
Spread the cheese mixture over one side of all the bread slices. Arrange the ham over the cheese on half the pieces of bread and invert the remaining bread over the ham. Press the sandwiches together firmly.
Film the bottom of a heavy skillet with oil and heat it over medium-high heat until it is very hot. Add as many sandwiches as will fit in the pan and fry, turning once, until they are golden brown and crisp. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches, adding more oil to the pan as necessary. Cut the sandwiches in half and serve hot, wrapped in a paper napkin.
From The Harry’s Bar Cookbook by Arrigo Cipriani
Despite Arrigo’s (son of Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of the original Harry’s Bar in Venice) wine suggestion, I will opt for a glass of champagne, because it will be a bright sunny afternoon in Venice, and when will I ever have the chance to eat Croque Monsieur and drink champagne in Venice again? And I may follow it with a bowl of Zuppa di Pesce and another glass of champagne so that I may linger just a bit longer and perhaps catch sight of Hemingway’s ghost.
If you do not own Cipriani’s cookbook/memoir then I recommend you find a copy of it, put it in your kitchen and then cook with it by your side. Page 186 holds my favorite recipe—Pollo Alla Cacciatora. Be sure to make polenta to go with it.
And page 7 holds my favorite paragraph: My father often wore a yellow tie, his trademark and an expression of his optimism. For me, too, ties have become a trademark. They’re not decorative; they have nothing to do with your suit. Ties express your feelings. People in mourning wear black ties. For many years I wore only dark blue and dark red ties, but as I get older I like beautiful bright colors and patterns. A tie has to conquer you, and then you want to wear it all the time. I always wear my ties in a special knot, at an angle and off to one side, because I hate symmetry.