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Italy Dinner

Varmo, June 21, 2013

Bailliage of Udine / Friuli-Venezia-Giulia

Fine dining at the Trattoria da Toni with Aldo Morassutti, the celebrated gentleman restaurateur

Worldwide, interpretation of the summer solstice has varied among cultures, but most recognize the event in some way with holidays, festivals, and rituals around that time with themes of religion or fertility.

All over Europe Saint John's Day festivities are closely associated with the ancient nature lore of the great summer festival of pre-Christian times. ‘Saint John's bonfires’ are often lit on mountains and hilltops on the eve of the Saint’s feast.

For its part the Bailliage of Udine / Friuli-Venezia-Giulia organised a wonderful event at the Trattoria da Toni in Varmo. It was a big party, as well as being a sublime dinner.

The party commenced around the traditional bonfire, albeit one set alight in the grounds of the restaurant. Under the pear trees delicious appetisers were served at the reception. Over 80 members and guests raised their glasses to celebrate Aldo Morassutti, doyen of the Bailliage. Vice-Conseiller Culinaire Honoraire and gentleman restaurateur, he recently became an octogenarian.

The group then adjourned to the dining room where the tables were decorated with floral compositions based on ‘herbs and magic’ stemming from the ancient rituals celebrated on the night of the summer solstice.

Among the guests was Joe Bastianich, a well-known Italian-American gourmet, who had specially come from Milan to share the pleasures of the table in the relaxing company of good friends.

The menu was themed with the produce of the Lower Friuli, an area irrigated by the River Tagliamento and many natural springs. The humidity of the woods was recalled with a taster of Friuli snails with meat broth and mushrooms. The foie gras first course brought back memories of flocks of geese in the courtyards of the past.

Next was an extraordinary soup made from peas from the nearby gardens of Sant’Erasmo and garnished with crayfish. The risotto that followed was flavoured by frogs, the ubiquitous noisy inhabitants of the many ponds and streams in the area!

A sorbet cleansed the palate before the exceptional ‘star of the show’ – a main course created by Aldo Morassutti in tribute to the history of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs. It was succulent spit-roasted teal (a migratory member of the duck family). A fresh raspberry dessert concluded the splendid menu.

To accompany the courses, excellent wines were served. Of special note was a 2010 Tuscany red made from Syrah by the Tenuta di Canneto – an estate owned by a Friulian.

It was a wonderful evening, during which history, empathy, harmony and gastronomy successfully came together.

Bruno Peloi, Chancelier