Am I Back In Rome?

The Viva Italian Market was hosted 28 March 2017 at the George Brown College for Hospitality and Culinary Arts in Toronto, and sponsored by George Brown College and the Italian Trade Commission.Photo by Robert Stephen.

The Viva Italian Market was hosted 28 March 2017 at the George Brown College for Hospitality and Culinary Arts in Toronto, and sponsored by George Brown College and the Italian Trade Commission.
Photo by Robert Stephen.

(TORONTO, ON) – Dear reader, I have told you a few times that journalism as a profession is rapidly dying. Look at the Post Media cuts which are hacking the poor Windsor Star into bits.

Instead, we have hoards of internet journalists and bloggers making mostly a meagre living. One only must look at Canadian wine writers to see that simply writing a weekly column on wine is no way to make a living.

Really, the only good I can see from the death of traditional journalism is that we are left with starved but impassioned authors. However, there are perks to be had, such as free media trips, free hotel rooms, and free meals.

Perks have replaced salary.

Put a load of these internet journalists in a room at a free event and it’s a boasting game about perks.

One of the perks of my writing is an occasional trip, a couple of cases of wine, bags of perogies, table napkins, and Spanish cured meats. In many cases, the beneficiaries of my reviews are hard working people or governments trying to promote a product.

I was delighted to be invited to Viva Italian Market recently at the George Brown College for Hospitality and Culinary Arts in Toronto, and sponsored by George Brown College and the Italian Trade Commission.

The Viva Italian Market was hosted 28 March 2017 at the George Brown College for Hospitality and Culinary Arts in Toronto, and sponsored by George Brown College and the Italian Trade Commission.Photo by Robert Stephen.

The Viva Italian Market was hosted 28 March 2017 at the George Brown College for Hospitality and Culinary Arts in Toronto, and sponsored by George Brown College and the Italian Trade Commission.
Photo by Robert Stephen.

Local Italian chefs were busily preparing fantastic dishes while a duo played traditional Italian music with a guitar and accordion. There was also a bit of wine flowing. Not the usual river you see at Italian Trade Commission events, where wine is involved, but just enough to match the superb dishes.

And since I write about food and wine, I am therefore considered part of the trade and my admission was free, as opposed to the $80 per ticket the general public had to fork out.

In addition to the hot dishes, there were desserts, sliced meats, olives, cheeses, and many other Italy-inspired foods. I will not go into detail other than to say each dish was masterfully prepared and all I have to do is name them and you might start drooling over your keypad.

  1. Farro, fontina cheese with oyster mushrooms served with shaved black truffles and drizzled with truffle oil. So decadent and delicious it just highlighted the power of truffles contrasted with the simplicity of the farro, which is rather like Arborio rice and barley. Great with a Brunello. This enticed me with three small plates. Who can cook farro better than Luiz Valenzeula.
  2. Alida Solomon from Tutti Matti in Toronto had melt in your mouth porchetta in small buns.
  3. Paaganelli shone brightly with his pheasant and truffle risotto.
  4. The folks from Pusateris prepared a wickedly rich Ricotta & Gnudi with chunks of ricotta cheese mixed with lemon served atop a rich Putanesca sauce. What comfort food.
  5. Even the lowly Mortadella was never made better, served with sliced watermelon radish and sprinkled with Ragusino cheese from Sicily.
  6. The apparently simplistic Alfetra pasta sautéed in olive oil with rabbit and sprinkled with Parmigiano illustrates that delicious need not be overly complicated.

All said and done, after tipping of coat check girl and subway fare, I was out $10. The real treat of the evening was having great food, listening to down home Italian music, and having a few sips of wine.

It was like being in Rome for an hour and much cheaper than flying there.

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About the Author

Robert Stephen (CSW)
Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he loves The Square. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."Email Robert Stephen
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