|photo by magrolino|
It’s summer in Milwaukee. Finally. After a cold wet spring, the mercury has finally risen and the sun has appeared from behind the clouds. Best of all, festival season has officially begun!
If you missed out on the color of Pride Fest, or the delicious pierogi or pączki at Polish fest, I’m pleased to announce that there’s still plenty of time to enjoy all the delicious diversity that Milwaukee has to offer.
Although I don’t have a single Italian gene in my body, there’s just something about Festa Italiana, the largest Italian event of its kind in America today. Offering unrivaled fireworks displays during every evening of the festival, Festa Italiana also offers plenty of entertainment (this year, headliners include Buddy Vlastro, the Cake Boss; The Monkees; and Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons). But, everyone knows that the real attraction of Festa is all of that delectable Italian food.
Sure, you can stop over at one of the many food vendors at Festa and enjoy gnocchi with fire roasted tomato cream sauce, Sfingi (Sicilian doughnuts), Arancini (fried rice balls), or Sfinciuni (Sicilian pizza). Be sure to grab a delicious glass of wine from Lo Duca Brothers. And, if the weather continues on a sweltering vane, you’ll definitely want to cool down with a liberal dose of gelato or spumoni.
Of course, if you’re anything like me, you’ll also want to take the time to hang out with the foodies and suck in as much culinary inspiration as possible.
If you are looking to learn how to make your favorite Italian dishes, the Cucina Showcase is the place to be. Some of the best chefs in Southeastern Wisconsin will demonstrate how to cook their favorite Italian dishes with seasonal ingredients. Featured restaurants include the Iron Horse Hotel, Ryan Braun’s Graffito, Ristorante Bartolotta, Le Reve Patisserie & Café, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bravo Cucina Italiana, Mia Famiglia Italian Ristorante & Steak House, Maggiano’s Little Italy, The Pasta Tree, The Riversite and Zin Uncommon California Italian. Stop by to get your fill of tasty samples and grab up printed copies of the recipes so you can recreate the magic at home.
If you’d rather “follow the finger” over and catch perennial favorite, cooking sensation Nick Stellino, who will return for two shows at the Cucina Showcase on Saturday, July 23, and Sunday, July 24 at 5:30 p.m. Stellino grew up in Palermo, Italy, on the island of Sicily and came to the U.S. in 1975. He has apprenticed with the best Italian chefs in America. Today, Stellino has published several cookbooks and hosted many successful television shows, including: Nick Stellino Cooking with Friends, Cucina Amore I, II and III, and Nick Stellino’s Family Kitchen.
Or maybe you’d prefer celebrity chef and award-winning Italian cookbook author Maria Liberati, who will be showcasing her culinary skills for the very first time during all four days of Festa. Liberati is considered one of the foremost experts on Italian cuisine and culture in the United States and has been described as the “Italian Martha Stewart” by Celebrity Society Magazine. In February 2010, the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards selected Liberati’s “The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions” as “Best Italian Cuisine Book in the USA.” Food enthusiasts can see Liberati Thursday, July 21 and Friday, July 22 at 5:30 p.m., on Saturday, July 23 at 2:00 p.m. and on Sunday, July 24 at 4:00 p.m.
Regardless of what you choose, I’m pleased to be able to offer two lucky readers the opportunity to win a 2-pack of tickets to Festa Italiana. Claim your chance to win by telling us about YOUR favorite thing to do/eat at Festa. Alternatively, if you’ve never attended the festival, take a gander at the Festa Italiana web site and let us know something you think you’d particularly enjoy. Two winners will be randomly selected from ALL correct answers on Friday, July 15, 2011. Be sure to leave your email address along with your comment so that I can contact you if you’re one of the lucky winners.
In the meantime, I would also encourage you to create your own little taste of Italy right at home.
For a light summer recipe, try the Italian summer salad recipe below from Nick Stellino’s “Nick Stellino: Cooking with Friends”: Tomato, Burrata and Arugula Salad
Also try your hand at making an Italian recipe from Maria Liberati’s “The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions”: Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms & Truffles
Milwaukee’s Summerfest grounds
Thursday, July 21 from 2:00 p.m. to Midnight
Friday through Sunday, July 22 – 24 from 11:30 a.m. to Midnight
Tickets: $13 at the gate