We have two more online markets at the depot, and then we will bid a fond farewell to our hosts at St. Anne’s. Along with a big debt of gratitude to the whole St. Anne’s community for their willingness to give us shelter in a storm, we owe special thanks to the ever-patient Juli, Caretaker of the church campus, who has helped us through more sticky spots than we can count, and to Mary Lou Harrison, our staunch supporter and friend.
I was chatting with one of our packers, Julie Swanson, about the approaching end of an era, and how memorable it has been to work with such a fun and dedicated crew. Packing food into boxes just isn’t an adequate description of what goes on inside our depot. Maybe that is because this kind of food connects us so strongly to the producers who bring it to us as well as to the customers who care about those producers. It has really been a big love-in despite the stress and mixups and challenges.
One of the unexpected strengths of the online market is that it is easy to welcome very small scale entrepreneurs to test the waters. One of those is Letitia Mancini of Tish’s Dishes, who asked us to join with the tiny handmade pasta business she was developing. How tiny was this business? Well, when her Dad helped make Letitia a pasta drying tree, production tripled!
Letitia is wildly enthusiastic about Italian culinary traditions, and her enthusiasm is contagious.
That’s all well and good, you may say, but at this point in the year, when Ontario storerooms are almost empty and the first spring green things are barely beginning to appear, the Mediterranean seems very far away!
After she sent a list of all the courses included in a full, formal Italian dinner, I asked Letitia if that sort of meal would be possible based on foods we have available at the market right now. She was more than up to the challenge; I couldn’t take notes fast enough! You may not pull off the whole list of dishes, but I hope you will find ideas to try. Buon appetito!
Letitia says that formal Italian meals, which can last 2 ½ hours or more, follow this progression:
The first course is the APERITIVO – Letitia says her family always included walnuts in the shell, giving a nutcracker to each person in attendance and happily cracking around the table. We have lots of walnuts for sale; you will just need to imagine the cracking because all the ones in the shells are gone. Bubbly beverages are essential, so she recommends kombucha, and fermented beet and turnip pickles to nibble, as well as a simple cheese such as Toscano. Keep this course light.
ANTIPASTI – slightly heavier, and includes charcuterie and cheese; think Buschbeck’s Summer Sausage alongside Monforte’s Amos and Tomme, served with Fennel and Orange-Honey Focaccia or Country Sourdough by Robinson Bread.
PRIMI – the first course with hot food. This is the time to include Tish’s pasta with a simple meatless sauce (like this one we’ve shared before), a risotto made with mushrooms or wild leek greens and chicken broth (on special from Tapioca) or one of Magic Oven’s very special Eggplant Lasagnas. Mmm, so many choices.
SECONDI – the protein part of the meal. Grilled Lamb or Roasted Beef would be appropriate here. This course is accompanied by…
CONTORNI – the vegetable side dishes. Some options would be sauteed mushrooms, carrots roasted in the pan with the meat, and small roast potatoes (parboil these, cool them and give them a shake in a colander to roughen the skin before roasting them). Remember to keep portions small; dinner isn’t finished yet!
INSALATA comes next: fresh baby arugula and tender lettuce with a simple dressing of two parts olive oil to one part vinegar is so easy and refreshing!
FORMAGGI E FRUTTA – After the table is cleared, fresh fruit and cheeses appear: Mutsu apples go wonderfully with Monforte soft or sharp cheeses.
DOLCE – Dessert can be anything your heart desires, from a Pavlova made with farm fresh eggs and warmed Blueberry Thyme Jam to a soothing Chocosol Forest Garden Vanilla bar.
CAFFE & DIGESTIVO – Espresso or a digestive alcoholic drink, such as limoncello or grappa are usually served; you may want to have some tonics on hand after all this feasting!
Letitia does admit that everyday meals in her home were shorter, about 45 minutes to an hour, usually consisting of Secondi and Contorni, followed by Insalata then Dolce and Cafe. Occasionally, there would be a Primi course. She has promised to plan another menu in high summer, when the selection is huge.
The real point is to savour time spent at the table enjoying the company of others, and to appreciate the foods we eat. This is not a rehearsal! It’s la bella vita!
Happy days from Anne & the Crew
P.S. We are seeking musicians to play on the Park Market’s opening day (May 19th) and all season long! If you are happy playing unplugged and like to make people happy with your music, please send an email to Nicole@dufferingrovemarket.ca!