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Festa della Polenta: New supper event recreates centuries-old communal feast

A festive supper with deep roots in Tuscan tradition is taking root right here in Vancouver at Di Beppe. The Gastown caffe-ristorante is launching a new dinner event celebrating the versatile dish of polenta, serving up a one-night-only feast later this month.

A festive supper with deep roots in Tuscan tradition is taking root right here in Vancouver at Di Beppe. The Gastown caffe-ristorante is launching a new dinner event celebrating the versatile dish of polenta, serving up a one-night-only feast later this month.

Festa Della Polenta will take place on Sunday, April 28, with two seatings (5 and 8 pm) at Di Beppe, and the three-course meal with drinks and wine will be served family-style.

 The main event at Festa Della Polenta at Di Beppe. Photo by Lindsay William-RossThe main event at Festa Della Polenta at Di Beppe. Photo by Lindsay William-Ross

In the 16th century, members of the nobility fed locals in the Tuscan region a hearty polenta meal to counter a famine ravaging the area at the time. Ultimately, gathering together over a table to eat polenta together became a tradition that carries on to this day in many Italian towns on the first Sunday of Lent.

For the Vancouver version, Di Beppe will offer ticketed guests a welcome Aperol Spritz (they make and bottle them in-house) and a selection of nibbles (called cicchetti) as well as a Vermouth Martini Riserva Speciale during a brief apero session.

 Cicchetti at Di Beppe for Festa Della Polenta. Photo by Lindsay William-RossCicchetti at Di Beppe for Festa Della Polenta. Photo by Lindsay William-Ross

Guests will then be seated at communal tables to sup on freshly-poured polenta on long wooden slabs, served alongside dishes like osso buco, fennel sausage and peppers, rapini, house white and red wine, and the bonus of the theatrics of the polenta pour. Mix and match from the hearty, savoury sides that offer big, bold flavours and textures in contrast with soulful slices of creamy polenta.

For dessert, a polenta almond cake with blood orange and mascarpone to cap off a feast of an often-unsung ingredient in the Italian culinary canon.

 Aperol Spritz at Di Beppe. Photo by Lindsay William-RossAperol Spritz at Di Beppe. Photo by Lindsay William-Ross

Tickets to Di Beppe’s communal Festa della Polenta dinner are available for $79 per person plus tax and gratuity and may be purchased online at bit.ly/2uTp4yv. Di Beppe is located at 8 West Cordova St. in Vancouver's Gastown neighbourhood.