This past Sunday the boy and I had an opportunity to indulge in a Christmas feast in Toronto, Italian style. With promises of abundant food and a gregarious group of strangers (soon to be friends) squeezed in at a communal table, we were ready for a real European dining event!
Our host, Italian chef Massimo Bruno, had organized another of his popular, always sold-out Supper Club dinners. This one around the holiday theme, the fifth annual “Buon Natale” Christmas in Italy. The holiday dishes featured were many of his favourites, and the evening was dedicated to his Mama who would be celebrating Christmas back in Italy. The dinner was held at his cooking studio on King Street East where many of his Supper Clubs and cooking classes are held.
Like a great host, Massimo kept an eye out for his guests, welcoming each personally, and entertaining the rest of the room with great Italian humour, as we waited for everyone to arrive. Whether you were a Supper Club virgin or a frequent diner, you were made to feel right at home. And with a “bring your own wine” policy, the atmosphere was more than merry. Although, the boy and I didn’t bring any wine since we were driving back to London after dinner, more than a few of the guests offered to share their libations with us.
But of course, we were there for the amazing food. The warmth of the studio was only intensified by all the cooking in the open kitchen. Massimo, along with some help from his brother and friends Giovanna, and Enzo, prepared the feast in front of our eyes. And cooking for such a large group is no small task.
As soon as the food hit the table, I didn’t know what to try first. The burrata’s cheesey exterior revealed a flowing cream centre that paired perfectly with the fried tomatoes. Thin slices of bresaola were coated in a thin layer olive oil and shavings of parmigiano. Homemade barese sausages swam in tiny lentils and were the perfect start on a cold evening. Small plates of these antipasti were placed along the table and everyone passed them around for second and third helpings.
After these “small” bites, I couldn’t believe there was more food to come. The variety was amazing and the chatter around the table grew in the casual family atmosphere. I felt like I was having dinner with all my extended family and cousins back home. Massimo floated around the room chatting, taking photos, and generally ensuring that no one went hungry.
Finally the dishes were cleared and the desserts and coffee passed around. I’m positive I wasn’t the only one thinking of unbuttoning my pants or looking around for couch for an after dinner nap. The best evidence for the quality of food and dining atmosphere is a doodle filled wall full of thanks and comments from past guests.
The drive to Toronto was well rewarded with the best Italian food and atmosphere I’ve found outside of Italy. If you’d like to experience it yourself, head over to Massimo’s site and discover something unforgettable.
Buon Natale a Tutti!