Italy Culinary Trips: Summer Gnocchi Festivals
This week we’ve celebrated food festivals and, quite frankly, food and drink we just plain like! In Italy food festivals, called “sagre,” “feste,” or “fiere” are common, and can feature something as specific as a particular type of snail or as general as wine. Communities across the peninsula and on the islands of Sardinia and Sicily organize the festivals, often in association with local holidays or harvest periods. And it should come as no surprise that certain ingredients and certain dishes receive more than their share of festivals throughout the year.
Case in point? Gnocchi!
Gnocchi, those soft, potato-pillow bites of heaven, are popular in many Italian regions. If you feel like checking out a gnocchi-themed festival this summer, here are some option!
Santa Maria di Monteleone d’Orvieto (Umbria)
Held in mid-June, the festival has been held since 2000, when the community decided to institute a summer festival for the community.
Santa Caterina di Lusiana (Veneto)
Held this year from August 12-17 (and every year around the Italian August 15 holiday of “Ferragosto”), this large festival features of course plate after plate of delicious gnocchi, but also activities, music, and dancing for adults and families.
Selva di Trissino (Veneto)
This late-August/early-September festival also features a “concorso sughi,” or sauce competition. Last year’s most requested sauces included sauces with radicchio, mixed wild mushrooms, and creamy cheese sauce with arugula, as well as the ever-popular truffles, walnuts and “speck” (a type of smoked ham), ragù meat sauce, mascarpone and peppers, and a ragù made from Paduan geese.
The “sagra della patata di Montescudo” (Montescudo’s potato festival) is the second weekend of August, and of course gnocchi is one of the main stars of the menu, along with such traditional items as baccalá (salt cod) with potatoes and piadina (flabread), and such unusual items as potato doughnuts and even potato ice cream!
San Lorenzo Nuovo (Veneto)
Also held in August, the festival takes place in the beautiful octagonal piazza in the center of town and boasts gnocchi with four traditional sauces: ragù (meat sauce), butter and sage, vodka-tomato sauce, and pesto. Last year some four TONS of gnocchi were served during the course of the festival.
Invite your friends over and have your own Gnocchi Festival!
By Peg KernBy Peg Kern