The absolute fullest I have ever been was after an Easter dinner prepared by my friend’s Italian mother. Portobello mushrooms called my name through thick Italian accents. “Quel-ci, you want to eat-a us! Just-a one-a more bite-a!” After heeding the mushrooms’ call (and a lasagna’s call, and bread’s call, and cheese’s call, etc), I was so full I just wanted to die. It felt like the fullness would never ever dissipate. In my delirium, a quick, painless death seemed to be the only viable option. Thankfully, I took a nap instead, and I powered through the pain. Thus, in some pocket of my brain Italian = FULL FULL FULL, so I knew a dinner involving no less than five Italians at a grill would surely be an eating endeavor.
An eating endeavor it was! Now in its third year, the Italian BBQ on the Farm is a tradition in the making for both the chefs/restaurants and the eaters involved. Like the holiday family gathering that nearly filled me to death, the Italian BBQ is a chance to see some familiar faces while focusing on food all afternoon and into the evening. In its first year, it was a chance to see the chefs kick back, enjoy their craft and enjoy a Negroni (or several dozen). In the vein of an inappropriate, distant uncle, their stories were as colorful as their plating, which is to say, when you’re at the Italian BBQ, you’re one of the family!
… but you’re part of a family with a better soundtrack. Union Rye is quickly becoming one of my favorite Pittsburgh bands. I first heard their folk inspired tunes at the Brooklyn Brewery Mash Dinner on the Farm, and they were the perfect fit for this long Sunday of eating.
The setting was the beautiful White Oak Farm, a mere winding road away from the city of Pittsburgh. With so many courses of food, there were necessary stretching breaks, which were the perfect opportunity to take in the beautiful farm details. I’m a sucker for an old barn and wood grains in every direction.
This year was especially exciting, since I had the opportunity to decorate the event as part of my Harvest & Gather event design collaboration. Olive oil and tomato sauce cans were reborn as vases, herbs were bundled for each guest, and I illustrated the extensive menu with a farm scene.
In the past, the Italian BBQ was a chance to see the chefs kick back, goof around and return to a lighter side of their business (while still delivering a really high caliber meal). This year was a chance to see the various chefs really work and take themselves seriously. With such a monstrous grill setup and an ambitious menu, they had to run a tight ship.
The Chef Lineup Included:
The Italian chefs surely outdid themselves this year. If this post seems lengthy (and super delayed), it’s because the meal stretched from the sunny afternoon into the brisk sunset, and the food never seemed to stop.
Until next year!
Fino al prossimo anno!