When my lovely partner in crime, Lis of La Mia Cucina and I first dreamt up La Festa al Fresco, we wanted it to be a way to hold a bit of summer in our hands … a last hurrah for the season that gives us so much.
So we planned a big party and promptly forgot the food. Oh, dear! We sent out the call for help and so many of you responded with some of the most amazing dishes that feature summer’s best.
I know I can speak for Lis when I say that it is positively heart-warming to know that there are so many friends out there willing to share food and good times.
Thank you. Grazie.
And now, I’m pleased to present the second half of the La Festa al Fresco round up. I owe a special thanks to Lis who did much of the leg work in terms of preparing photos. I’m a bit of a technically-challenged Cream Puff so I really appreciate that. Lis is an absolute darling and a great friend! I feel fortunate to know her and hope that she’ll host this party with me every year.
For the first half of the round up, check out La Mia Cucina:
My dear friend Stephany arrived at the festa with a bowl of this colourful and vibrant Fruit Delight. This dish is the perfect mix of so many of the fruits that are best at this time of year. I’ve known Stephany for many years and I just couldn’t imagine the festa without her. I’m so thrilled that she could come.
How thrilled we were that Angelika flew in all the way from Vienna, Austria! I know that at heart, Angelika is Italian and the dish she brought proves it. The fresh figs with cheese and prosciutto is the perfect way to enjoy the beauty of summer. A fresh fig is an unbelievable thing and if you haven’t had the chance to try one yet, you should. Angelika is one of the first people that I met after starting this blog and she continues to be a source of joy and inspiration. Thank you so much for coming.
Whenever I want to be inspired, I always take a little trip over to Joanne’s blog. A wonderful cook, Joanna can be counted on for some beautiful and creative dishes. And the dish that she presented at the festa is no exception! Perfect corn cakes with a lime and avocado salsa that sounds so refreshing. I can’t decide what I like better: the mini-corn cakes or the lime and avocado salsa. This dish also reminds me that I just don’t use avocado enough. Joanna, you’re welcome at the festa any time!
You’ll never imagine how shocked I was to discover that I had a long-lost sister! But it’s true … Jennifer and I just know that we are related. We have the same interests and like pretty much all the same foods. The reason I really know that we’re sisters is that Jennifer writes her menu out every week on a board and posts it on her blog. And that’s just the sort of thing I love to do. As all good sisters do, Jennifer showed up at the festa with the most gorgeous dish: Creamy Stuffed Figs. I have been tempted many times with the idea of throwing all to the wind and moving to a Mediterranean hillside for the simple joy of eating fresh figs. This dish will save me the trouble of moving.
Even before I visited Sher’s blog to see the picture of this dish, the name alone had me drooling. This is eggplant season and I was so happy to see Sher make use of this beautiful vegetable with a lovely relish. Chicken and curry are the perfect combination and the vinaigrette is so intriguing. Thankfully Sher put a few skewers aside just for me so I was able to try some before they were all gone!
Ah, Meeta! I knew you’d come through for us! Not only did Meeta bring one of my favourite desserts of all time, she topped the panna cotta with the most beautiful fresh blackberries. And to help those of us that haven’t tried panna cotta before, Meeta posted a very useful cooking lesson on the subject. Oh yes and she flew in all the way from Germany!
As I mentioned to Barbara when she presented this dish, she must have been reading my mind. I have been seriously preoccupied with beetroot lately and with tabouli. I don’t use beetroot often so I was looking for ideas and, if you can believe it, I’ve never made tabouli. Barbara solved both of those problems with her gorgeous dish. And she didn’t even show any jet lag from the flight in from New Zealand. What a gal!
Based on all the gasps I heard when Bruno put his dishes on the table that he had created some truly impressive dishes. First of all he gets an award for bringing two dishes to the table and what dishes! The prawns dusted with wasabi is such a nice touch and the Asian slaw is so intriguing. Sorbet is the perfect summer dessert and using lychee is a wonderful idea. Bruno, we’re all so glad you came to the festa.
Lisa is the brilliant mind behind the recent tribute to Julia Child on the occasion of her birthday. Lisa has such a beautiful, thoughtful blog and I was so happy to see her come to the festa. She brought with her a dish that uses the quintessential summer ingredient: the tomato. The colour of the sauce alone is enough to make your mouth water. And the end result … the beautiful fusilli enrobed in the sauce … well … it’s just too good!
Mini-Meringue Baskets with Pomegranate and Peach Sorbets from (the great) Anita of Dessert First.
When I first happened upon Anita’s blog, I knew that I had found a kindred spirit. There a million brilliant bakers out there and none of them inspire me more than Anita. Not only is she an incredible baker, she’s following her dream by working in a bakery. Her passion for what she does is palpable and it’s a beautiful thing to see and read about. She certainly outdid herself for the festa with the most adorable meringue cups filled with pomegranate and peach sorbet.
When I saw the Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen walk through the door with this dish, I was so honoured! Kalyn is the originator of Weekend Herb Blogging and I am a huge fan of hers. She knew exactly what she was doing by bringing along a dish that made use of the perfect tomatoes now in season. And judging by how quickly the pesto/spread disappeared, it was loved by all.
For starters, any blog with a name that has Coconut in it is right up my alley as I am the world’s biggest coconut fan! Monisha proved once again that fried is good with her spectacular samosas and the photos on her blog are a huge bonus. The Mint Raita is also an intriguing addition which makes use of all that fresh mint threatening to take over the garden (or at least my garden). Monisha, don’t forget to take some mint home with you!
As soon as I saw Zarah Maria’s gorgeous tart, the first thing I thought was, "What a beautiful colour!" And right after I was amazed that I’d never thought of combining saffron and tomato. Saffron is one of those spices that I don’t think we use enough, or at least experiment enough with. I’m so glad that Zarah Maria tried this because it’s so inspiring. And of course it’s another opportunity to use up those fresh tomatoes. What better way to do it than in a tart with a perfect crust. If I’m not mistaken, I think I saw Zarah Maria picking a few tomatoes. You go, girl!
Grazie, Zarah Maria!
Mooncrazy gets the prize for best dish name with this one. And the blog name is a great one also! In this case, the "cue balls" in question are actually small, round zucchini that have been grilled to perfection. We’re used to longer zucchini that seem to take over the garden. And of course we’re always trying to find different ways to use them. But Mooncrazy has inspired us to try different varieties of zucchini and to grill them. Well done!
"Burn, baby burn, kitchen inferno!" Okay … I’ll stop singing now. Anyway, Mickey decided to sum up everyone’s feelings about the end of summer with a most aptly named tart. I’m new to Mickey’s blog but love it already. And the tart was just the perfect thing to bring to the festa.
I was thrilled that Katie and the rest of the Khoury family could make it to the festa. These people know how to eat as you can see from their blog! Katie went old-school Italian with an incredible pizza margherita. Nothing says summer like a slice of this beautiful creation. I’m glad I snagged a piece before it was all gone.
We’ve decided to also give Glenna an award for best dish name. And another one for making a dish based on one her grandmother used to make. Grandmothers are the best! Glenna makes good use of all those cucumbers and onions sprouting in the garden with a most refreshing salad. And the dressing is a Glenna original to boot. I had many helpings of this salad!
I just adore Sara’s blog! It makes me feel like I’m living in Italy as I read all about her adventures. Sara is a fantastic cook and she decided to come to the festa with stracchino, a glorious fresh Italian cheese. I tried to keep these crostini all to myself but Lis reminded me that as a co-hostess, I had to share. Hey Sara … could you send me over some more of that stracchino?
One of the very first people to open their arms to me in this world of blogs was Rowena. A brilliant cook, an incredible writer, an amazing photographer, Rowena’s blog is warm and inviting and humorous. She lives in Italy with her Italian husband and she’s promised to snap a photo of me eating a cream puff in Venice. To top it all off, she showed up with the most unbelievable dessert: beautifully fresh peaches roasted and topped with meringue. Too delicious!
A fellow Torontonian, Sam’s blog has been one of my favourites since he first arrived on the scene. Sam is a hugely talented baker with experience in the pastry industry. His blog is a must-read if only for all the ice cream he makes! But Sam showed up to the festa with a lovely torte featuring one of my favourite summer fruits: Italian plums. We have an Italian plum tree so I will be making use of Sam’s recipe to use up all those plums.
The charming Helene also brought a plum dessert to the table and I for one am thrilled. The more plums the merrier is what I say. Helene’s crumble is so juicy and inviting … I’m glad I had lots of vanilla ice cream in the freezer with which to enjoy it. Helene, we’re so glad you made it to the festa!
Le Melanzane d’Aldo from Diane.
I love hearing from people who read my blog! Diane is a regular reader who has passed along several fantastic recipes. I keep telling Diane that she should start her own blog and I’m hoping that one day soon she will. In the meantime, I decided to present her dish, Le Melanzane D’Aldo, as my entry for La Festa al Fresco. This dish combines eggplant and peppers to form a fantastic union. I enjoyed mine for dinner, and then had the leftovers the next day drizzled with a bit of red wine vinegar. Diane, what a wonderful dish!
Was I ever happy to see MizD and Chopper Dave at the festa! They have a gorgeous blog and are clearly talented cooks. Their roasted patty pan squash was a sight to behold and were quickly gobbled up. Once again this is an example of how versatile squash are. In addition, the patty pan squash are just so cute. But not too cute to eat of course!
Grazie MizD and Chopper Dave!
I have a confession to make. When Haalo arrived with these beauties I wanted to run inside, lock myself in and eat them all without sharing even one. I’m a bad Cream Puff! But how could I help it?! Have you seen how adorable these little tartlets are? Haalo, we thank you for bringing these to the party.
Trust Jenjen to bring a completely unique and brilliant dessert to the festa! Tangelos! While I love eating them, I’ve never thought of baking with them but Jenjen showed me how to do it. This pudding is gorgeous to look at and delicious to eat. Lis and I actually fought over it. Sorry Lis … but I won!
Last but certainly not least, Gilly showed all of us how to use those perfect blueberries that are now in season. This blueberry spread will grace many a slice of toast in my house. Gilly is such a talented baker (and house builder … did you know she’s building her own house?) and I’m thrilled that she could make it all the way from Nova Scotia!
And so we have come to the end of the party. There’s a mountain of dishes to be done, but that’s ok. The important thing is that we all sat together at the great blog table and enjoyed a meal like no other. We gave Summer the best send off possible. And now we’re ready for Autumn.
I’d like to thank all of you for coming to La Festa al Fresco. We’ll see you next year!
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