On July 28th, U-Feast teamed up with Campari, Italy’s iconic aperitivo. We hosted our first-ever al fresco Happy Hour at Noce, a restaurant that has been a staple of traditional Italian food in Toronto for more than twenty years. Against the backdrop of Toronot’s Trinity-Bellwoods park, we almost felt we were “under the Tuscan sun.”
Featuring Campari as the main ingredient, bar chef Michele Maffei developed three cocktails for the evening. Campari is synonymous to aperitivo time in Italy. The classic recipe was developed in Novara in 1860 and has never been altered. It is made with bitter herbs, aromatic plants, and fruits immersed in alcohol and water and was named after its creator, an apothecary named Gaspare Campari. Its vibrant and seductive red colour is an expression of Italian passion. “Just looking at that red bottle reminds me of la dolce vita,” says Maffei. “You must have it at least five times, then you’re hooked for life,” he adds.
Maffei believes the way to start a party is always with some bubbles. He kicked off the evening with the aperitivo “Amor Amaro,” a classic spritz which can be found everywhere in Italy. The drink was a blend of Campari and Hungarian unicum, topped with prosecco. The food went hand-in-hand with the drinks. Guests were first served zucchini flowers stuffed with Tuscan ham and ricotta. The dish is an ode to chef Eron Novalski’s travels in Italy where most meals start with some form of fried snack.
Few things evoke the feeling of summer more than cooking on a barbecue. Noce houses an impressive traditional Tuscan grill, perfect for creating the next dish, squid – or as the Italians call it, calamari. Most of Italy’s twenty regions have some coastline along the Mediterranean, making seafood commonly present in dishes around the country. There is a particular abundance of squid. At Noce, the calamari was grilled and stuffed with Tuscan sausage, wood fired tomatoes, and rosemary. The plate featured white, red, and green, matching the colours of Italy. As an accompaniment, Maffei served a cocktail called the “Italio-Canadian”, a blend of Campari, Cocchi Torino vermouth, and Shiny Chider. He wanted to revisit the famous Italian drink “The Americano,” which was made famous and immortalized in the James Bond novels.
For the final course, chef Novalski featured a pizza of sweet and spicy Tuscan wild boar sausage with braised fennel, and orange sauce. He wanted to include a pizza that would feel fresh and summery. To end the dinner, Maffei created a dessert cocktail that would be both a delight for the eyes as well as satisfy your sweet tooth. The drink was named “Lilo,” a reference to the Disney character from the movie Lilo & Stitch. He mixed Campari with Blue Curacao, added Dillon’s Rose Gin for a floral element, some lemon juice, and a garnish of beautiful orange nasturtium flower. The intense blend of red and blue created a deep purple colour, a gorgeous ending for a taste of la dolce vita in Toronto.
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U-Feast provides social dining experiences at Toronto’s hottest spots. It has hosted 70+ pop-up dining experiences and thousands of Toronto foodies since it was founded in 2015. Their Communal Dining Experiences include an off-menu, multi-course feast and the price includes alcoholic beverages and tips. In 2017, U-Feast launched its Happy Hour Experiences which take place on Friday nights and for $30 includes 3 alcoholic beverages + 3 bar snacks. For more information visit www.ufeast.com. It’s free to join and new users get a $10 sign-up bonus to redeem towards an experience.