By Mario Miceli
Another great event at Il Centro Italian Centre this evening, Il Mercato. The first thing you notice is that the parking lot was actually used for parking cars and the vendors have moved to the Piazza, creating a market like you would find in any Italian city. Going into the main hall, I bought my raffle ticket from one of the best salespersons ever, Lucas Kluge 7 with his lovely sister, Victoria 2, nearby. This dynamic sales force is Il Centro’s secret weapon and Executive Director, Joan Kluge’s children. Joan explained that over 30 vendors were participating in this year’s Piazza themed event which drew many attendees and created a more intimate event that allowed more mingling, socializing as people made their way through the open walkways throughout Il Centro. As people walked through the Piazza and main hall, they were able to taste various food products including fresh organic greens sold by the farmer who produced them. Mr. Arancino was onsite selling their fried rice balls, that my mother called “purpete e riso” in her Calabrese dialect. Dolce Amore provided everyone with a must in any Italian piazza, gelato. Custom bakery goods made by Emilia Doro, owner of Bella Doro Baking – now that’s one of the best incorporation of names I have seen in a long time. I had to bring home a jar of truffle from La Tarantella Truffle as the flavour was nothing short of amazing. Mediterra soaps and body care smelled remarkably realistic, being all natural and hand crafted, I was tempted to take a bite of the licorice but resisted. Tastings of various wines, spirits and beer was a wonderful way to compliment the taste of sauces, tomato and hot sauces. Luppola (which means Hops in Italian) an East End brewery had the traditional Italian beer tastes, but their IPA hit the spot. I tried Fabio Martini’s of Woods Spirit Co.’s Limoncello and he shared his use of a certain ingredient in the mix and it was one of the smoothest Limoncello I have tried. But as always, Catering Director, Fabio Rassotto of Il Centro and his team created a variety of dishes available in the Osteria and Trattoria that included authentic cannoli and a special donut that was incredible. If you were fortunate enough to get an advance ticket to the sold-out Taste of Italy dinner you would have had an incredible meal of Italian delicacies from various regions of Italy. This dinner is the final in The Taste of Italy series that begins in January and ends with the Il Mercato dinner. Chef Jackson Noah has taken diners on a culinary exploration of distinct regions of Italy, at each dinner, preparing traditional dishes of the featured region. Tonight’s dinner had Chef Jackson Noah select dishes from all regions, to provide a true Taste of Italy. Stay tuned for this series to come back next year. What’s an Italian Mercato without music? Patrizia Coletta entertained the crowd who sat enjoying their food on the outside piazza that now had tables and chairs, a popular spot to eat and listen to old favourites from a great entertainer. I heard a Nicole di Bari song that I haven’t heard since I was a kid and my mother had on the “Italian Program” on the radio. And of course, dancers in the crowd took full advantage of the music and converted piazza dance floor. It was wonderful to see the multi generational families that were there, Nonna and Nonno with their children and grandchildren. Thank you to the Il Centro staff that made sure it was a family friendly event with an area for children’s activities in the main foyer of the hall. As always, the staff at Il Centro hosted the event with grace and were great ambassadors for the Italian Cultural Centre and our event. Thank you to Il Centro staff and volunteers and our to our generous sponsors, Vancity, Bosa Foods, Bon Bon Bakery and Bell and Burnaby Funeral Chapel.
Fortunately, the weather changed to bring the sun out in time for Il Mercato. Another day when the Italian culture shined, and the sun decided to join our Italian shine.