Celebrate authentic Italy at gala dinner

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      (This story is sponsored by GIA and National Importers Canada Ltd.)

      They say that the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach. And for that reason, our love affair with Italy is one of our most passionate. At the hands of an Italian, food becomes so much more than just sustenance. It’s emotional. In fact, eating has become so ingrained in the country’s delicious culture and history that it’s almost impossible to think of Italy without thinking about some of its gastronomic delights.

      And while eating well is something that people in Italy partake in year-round, the “Week of the Italian Cuisine in the World”, taking place November 19 to 25, gives the rest of us the perfect opportunity to celebrate and indulge in the country’s culinary excellence. Now in its third year, the week will see more than one thousand events being held around the world promoting Italy’s agrifood industry.

      The Italian Chamber of Commerce in Canada–West (ICCCW) has operated since 1992 as a private, nonprofit, membership organization with the goal of enhancing business, trade, and investment exchanges between Italy and Western Canada. So to mark the week-long occasion, the ICCCW has partnered with the Regione Emilia Romagna, Unioncamere Emilia Romagna, Enoteca Regionale Emilia Romagna, APT Emilia Romagna, Casa Artusi, and the Consulate General of Italy to put on a very special series of events in Vancouver. The city will play host to a delegation of more than 15 food companies from Emilia Romagna, a region in northern Italy celebrated all around the world as the homeland of many of the country’s most famous delicacies. Think Prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano Reggiano, Bolognese, tortellini, Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, and so much more.

      And if you’re already salivating at the thought, then you’re in luck. That’s because on Wednesday (November 21st), the ICCCW invites you to join the Extraordinary Emilia Romagna!, an exclusive gala dinner and pasta-making show taking place at Vancouver’s Westin Bayshore (1601 Bayshore Drive). The superior culinary experience will include a fabulous seven-course dinner served with premium Italian wines, all inspired by the region’s traditional recipes. Guests will be treated to three buffet appetizers, two entrées, a main, and, of course, gelato. There will then be a fresh pasta-making demonstration led by the “Mariette” teachers from Casa Artusi, a centre dedicated to regional Italian cuisine and its rich culture. So in an evening that’s sure to be full of surprises, there’s also the unique opportunity to learn a secret recipe for the perfect tortellini, meaning you can take a little taste of Italy home with you.

      And every effort has been made to ensure the menu’s authenticity, with some products being flown in especially for the occasion. After all, one of ICCCW’s key mandates is not only to promote extraordinary Italian taste and food excellence, but also to educate the public on the difference in certified DOP and IGP products, which are sourced and manufactured in Italy. In fact, the True Italian Taste project, coordinated by Assocameres­tero and promoted and financed by the Ministry of Economic Development, is dedicated to the cause of safeguarding genuine Italian agrifood products. And visitors to the website are encouraged to discover “genuine origins, true pleasure”.

      As the most romantic country in the world, the passion Italians pour into food and eating is no surprise. And it’s for that reason that authenticity is something they take very seriously. And while some products may look Italian, once you’ve experienced the real deal there is no mistaking it. This is especially true when it comes to cooking because to enjoy a proper Italian meal requires genuine ingredients. And of all the components used, surely garlic can be recognized as one of the most critical in Italian dishes.

      GIA is a family company located in Emilia Romagna and it was founded in 1980 after discovering the process of manufacturing garlic into a paste. And while tube foods might not have the most elegant of connotations in North America, the Italians have stayed to true their reputation and elevated the humble recipe essential into a high-quality and convenient tube format. In the years since, GIA has expanded its product offering to include sun-dried tomato paste, anchovy paste, tomato and garlic purée, chili purée, onion purée, shallot purée, and pesto.

      All GIA products are made from fine fresh Italian herbs and ingredients, which are carefully selected, controlled, and processed using modern equipment to ensure the perfect balance of the product in a tube. An Italian representative from GIA together with the Canadian importer, Nitish Nayak, brand manager of National Importers Canada Ltd, will be present at the event Extraordinary Emilia Romagna! to promote their products, which will be part of the seven-course menu for the Gala Dinner. GIA provides a simple way for chefs and home cooks alike to bring the authentic Mediterranean flavors to their tables and can now be purchased across Canada. Find them in some of British Columbia’s renowned retailers like Sobeys, Safeway, Save-On Foods, IGA, and Thrifty Foods. GIA pastes are also distributed in independent and chain stores like Choices, Buy Low, and IGA, meaning there is lots of opportunity for you to continue to celebrate the Week of Italian Cuisine celebration, year round.

      Buon appetito!

      To purchase tickets for Extraordinary Emilia Romagna! and experience the epitome of Italian cuisine excellence, please visit www.iccbc.com/events/ or call 604-682-1410. All prices include an open-bar reception featuring premium Italian wine, a seven-course dinner, and a fresh pasta-making demonstration. Special rates are available for groups, corporate tables, and ICCCW members. Tickets available at eventbrite.ca/e/extraordinary-emilia-romagna-tickets-51834615731/.