The Italian Wine and Food Festival Returns

Originally published on Broadsheet.

The best Italian chefs and proud Victorian producers gather to celebrate pasta, pecorino and pignolata.

Espresso or Chianti in one hand, a plate of pasta or a bomboloni in the other. That’s how you do the Italian Wine and Food Festival.

Lara Caraturo, ex-sommelier at Sydney’s Pilu, started the festival with a mission to educate people about Italian wine. It can be a difficult region to navigate; Italy produces more than 350 different varieties of grapes. Caraturo wants to make things easier.

“The wine tasting section of our festival is outlined by region,” Caraturo says. “All the bottles from Piedmont are at one stall, the Sicilian ones at another.”

Caraturo introduced Melbourne to the festival last year and is bringing it back with a collection of new and returning vendors. This year it’ll host events including a pasta-making demonstration by Tipo 00’s chefs, a tutorial on the art of pizza by 400 Gradi’s award-winning founder Johnny di Francesco, and a series of wine masterclasses.

The marketpace will include the likes of Salumistini, Truffle Traders, Arancini Art and 7 Apples Gelato. New pop-up restaurants this year include Vaparetto Venetian Bar and Eatery, Small Axe Kitchen and Pasta Adagio. Bar Idda, La Bonta and Trattoria Emilia will also return.

Chef and author Rosa Mitchell is also participating in the festival for the second year running, holding a cooking demonstration.

“This year I’ll be cooking with artichokes, a vegetable that so many people love but don’t know how to prepare properly,” Mitchell says.

Co-owner of the CBD’s Trattoria Emilia, Matteo Neviani, had no hesitations about participating in the 2017 festival. “Being one of the newer restaurants involved, we were excited to be a part of such a great group of other hospitality vendors,” Neviani says. “There was something for everyone and plenty to learn from wine experts and producers, some who had come all the way from Italy. Everyone comes up to you and wants to talk about your food and, for us, the region we are from, Emilia Romagna.”

One change to the festival is that it has “gone digital” according to Caraturo: “We have created an app for our festival booklet including information on exhibitors, information about Italy’s region and space to take wine tasting notes.”

The festival will, again, be held at the Royal Exhibition Building, which Caraturo describes as the “perfect” location for an event of this sort.

The Italian Wine and Food Festival will run on Sunday June 25, 11am to 9pm. More information here.

Image credit: supplied.

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